November is officially Native American Heritage month in the city of Riverton. Mayor Richard Gard signed a proclamation to that effect on Thursday, November 7.
The federal government has observed National Native American Heritage Month every year since 1990. So, many Native people took it as a slight when President Donald Trump declared November 2019 "National American History and Founders Month" in addition to the traditional designation.
"You know, we noticed that," said Stephen Fasthorse, co-chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. "When you can't give the proper recognition and respect to the first nations of this country, it's disheartening."
Fasthorse acknowledged that the relationship between Native and non-Native citizens of Riverton has been tense at times, and that the September police shooting of a Northern Arapaho man in the city has brought those tensions to the surface. He said Mayor Gard's proclamation is a good first step toward repairing that relationship.
"That's where you start it, is to engage in, what do we share as our values? You know, see how we as communities can value our relationship," Fasthorse said.
Leaders from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes drafted the proclamation. Gard said he signed it after they presented it to him during a Thursday afternoon meeting at Riverton City Hall.
"I think it's exactly right. They're our neighbors, and we need to make sure that they know that we respect what they want to do and how they want to do it," Gard said.
In signing the proclamation, Gard recognized the "rich history, generosity, and the extensive contributions" of Native people to the city of Riverton and pledged to create an "active government-to-government collaboration" with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes.
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