Savannah Maher

Wind River Reservation Reporter

Email: smaher4@uwyo.edu

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them. 

Savannah got her start in journalism reporting for her hometown’s local newspaper (The Mashpee Enterprise) and public radio station (WCAI), and has since contributed to New Hampshire Public Radio, High Country News, and NPR’s Code Switch blog. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2018.  

Savannah is supported in part by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Savannah is a Report For America corps member. 
 

Ways to Connect

Old Main, University of Wyoming. Photo: Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

If you've spent time on a college campus lately, you may have encountered a land acknowledgment - recognition of the tribes whose ancestral land the institution is built on. But land-grant universities, originally created to educate America's working class, also owe their founding to the seizure and sale of Indigenous land. The 1862 Morrill Act granted over 17 million acres for states to sell and raise endowment principal for the institutions.

U.S. Census Bureau

You probably got a letter in the mail recently from the U.S. Census Bureau asking you to fill out its survey. And maybe you're thinking, I don't have time for this! I just lost my job and I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage in the next couple of months! My kids are home and they're driving me crazy!

courtesy of Christie Wildcat

Every year at Gathering of Nations Powwow in New Mexico, Dozens of young Indigenous women compete for the title of Miss Indian World. This year, Northern Arapaho citizen and University of Wyoming senior Christie Wildcat was among the contestants. But the powwow and the pageant were cancelled to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As Wildcat told Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher, her preparation won't go to waste, as she plans to compete again next year.

Savannah Maher

With six cases of COVID-19 now confirmed on the Wind River Reservation, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have enacted some of the strictest measures in Wyoming to slow the spread. The tribes have jointly directed their citizens to remain in their homes except for emergencies, stay far away from elders and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10.

But for many tribal households, those directives contradict one another.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare/Lisa Yawakia

With the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the Wind River Reservation, tribal members are being asked not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. There are currently 14 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Fremont County.

Eastern Shoshone Tribe

The Eastern Shoshone Tribal Housing Authority (ESTHA) will build 24 new homes on the Wind River Reservation this year. That's thanks to a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Indian Housing Block Grant Program.

Charles Willgren via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Fremont County currently has the highest number of known COVID-19 cases in Wyoming - nine out of 20 that have been confirmed in our state by Friday. Eight of Fremont County's cases are residents or staff members at Lander's Showboat Retirement Center, and state health officials say the ninth case is directly related to that cluster.

Loring Schaible

It's been a busy week for newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming. Still, many in our state are wondering why so few tests have been administered. State Department of Health Spokeswoman Kim Deti told Wyoming Public Media that amid a shortage of tests, medical providers are prioritizing those at highest risk.

Loring Schaible

One of Fremont County's nine confirmed COVID-19 patients went to SageWest Health Care in Lander last week, but was sent home without being tested for the disease. That's according to the patient's daughter, who said her mother began showing symptoms, including a severe cough, that same week. 

Charles Willgren via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming has risen to 19. Those cases are spread between Sheridan, Fremont, Park, Laramie and Teton Counties.

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Grocery store shelves across our state are empty due to stockpiling and panic-buying. Many grocers are responding by making special accommodations for the elderly, immunocompromised, and others at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WIND RIVER FAMILY AND COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE/LISA YAWAKIA

With eight cases of COVID-19 now confirmed in Fremont County, the Wind River Reservation's federally funded healthcare facilities are bracing for impact. Meanwhile, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has announced that $40 million in federal funds will be distributed to help tribes across the country combat the coronavirus.

Savannah Maher

With eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fremont County, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes are preparing for the coronavirus to reach the Wind River Reservation.

Loring Schaible

Following national and state-level declarations, the city of Lander has declared a state of emergency locally. The announcement came on Tuesday, after the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fremont County rose to eight.

Fort Washakie School District

Nearly all of Wyoming's school districts will remain closed in the coming weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Many are scrambling to provide meals to the 37 percent of K-12 students in our state who typically rely on free or reduced-price school breakfast and lunch. Two districts on the Wind River Reservation have devised a plan to feed kids in need while complying with social distancing recommendations.

CCO Public Domain

School districts across Wyoming have announced they are closing until April in compliance with Gov. Mark Gordon's recommendation.

Gordon and State Superintendent Jillian Below announced Sunday evening that schools should stay closed until at least April 3, and students should practice social distancing to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming's second known COVID-19 patient is an older male resident of the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander. Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) say his case has not been linked to foreign or domestic travel. That signals that he was likely exposed by another member of the community.

Savannah Maher

During the legislative session, Representative Andi Clifford's days start before dawn. So, when her friend Representative Sara Burlingame picks her up from her hotel early on a February morning, the first thing on their agenda is getting caffeinated.

WyoFile/Flickr Creative Commons

County Clerks in Wyoming could soon be required by state law to accept tribal ID cards for voter registration, provided the ID lists the applicant's driver's license number or last four digits of their social security number.

Industrial Hemp
Mountain Xpress

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe could soon take steps to launch its own cannabis business on the Wind River Reservation. The tribe's General Council, a governing body composed of all tribal members over the age of 18, will take up the issue during a meeting on Saturday​, March 14.

Savannah Maher

Wyoming Indian High School's girls and boys basketball teams received a warm welcome back to the Wind River Reservation after​ once again sweeping the 2A state championship.

University of Illinois Urbana

The University of Wyoming's Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Edward Seidel as the university's next president.

Robert Martinez

Governor Mark Gordon honored five Wyoming artists with the 2019 Governor's Arts Award, including visual artist and graphic designer Robert Martinez. Martinez is Northern Arapaho and Chicano, and grew up in a family of talented painters and beadworkers on the Wind River Reservation. He draws and paints portraits using bright, contrasting tones in a style intended to challenge the viewer's assumptions of what Native people and Native art should look like.

"You see many depictions of Natives as black and white or sepia toned, and that connotes to a dead culture," Martinez said. "So, one of the things I was doing with this bright paint was I wanted to show that we're not dead, we're alive and strong."

Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher visited Martinez at his studio outside of Riverton and talked with him about his work and what it means to be one of only a few people of color ever awarded the state's top artistic honor.

Northern Arapaho Business Council

The Northern Arapaho Business Council has declared a state of emergency amid a crisis of methamphetamine addiction on the Wind River Reservation.

Crystal C'Bearing/Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office

On a Saturday afternoon in January, Great Plains Hall in Arapahoe was packed with hundreds of people standing in line to bless themselves with cedar smoke, and visit with the very imposing 6-foot-long headdress. Hand-sewn and beaded, each of the dozens of eagle feathers adorning it commemorates one of Chief Black Coal's greatest accomplishments.


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