Tribes And State Collaborate To Tell Wind River Reservation History

Jul 14, 2014

Historical marker on the Wind River Reservation.

In coming years, visitors to Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation will see new historical perspectives on roadside signs and markers. That’s the proposed outcome of the new Wind River Interpretive Plan. It's believed to be the first such collaboration between tribes and state government on a reservation-wide interpretive plan.

The 129-page document offers a tribal perspective on how to tell the history of the Wind River Reservation through historical markers and monuments. Gary Collins is the Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison to Governor Mead. Collins says most current road-side signs are written from a Euro-American perspective. 

“You know, words like massacre and savages and annihilation; just negativity toward Indian people during the time they were protecting their land.” 

Over the past four years, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes worked with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Wyoming Office of Tourism to identify what reservation stories should be told and where. Former Eastern Shoshone Tribal Liaison Sara Robinson says there were some challenges to creating the interpretive plan.

“There were still those individuals—mainly non-tribal—who wanted there to be friendly immigrants and friendly settlers and contributions from non-Indians [to the reservation] in Wyoming.”

SHPO says the Wind River Interpretive Plan is a starting point for actual projects planned for the coming years.