Native American

Senate Democrats are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to expedite progress on broadband connectivity in Native communities. 

Hila Shamon with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Swift foxes are reddish-brown, a bit smaller than a house cat, with big ears and a long tail. They do their best to sound intimidating when they're live-trapped, but they tend to be quite docile. They were historically found across the Great Plains region from Alberta, Canada down through the central part of the United States, but today, they're only in about 40 percent of that area.

Loring Schaible


It's a bright August morning in the northeast corner of Montana. Robbie Magnan, Game and Fish director for the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, rose before dawn to round up 40 buffalo into a corral.

If you're experiencing quarantine fatigue, these bulls can relate.

LORING SCHAIBLE

Millions of bison used to roam the west but by the early 1900's, only a couple dozen were left inside Yellowstone. That's because the animal was over-hunted by western settlers. Yellowstone Chris Geremia, the Yellowstone National Park bison coordinator, said decades were spent to recover the population.

Ron Howard (Northern Arapaho) leads the Anual Peace March, Lance Goede of the Solutions Committee was also in attendance.
Taylar Stagner

In 2015 two Northern Arapaho men were shot at the Center of Hope detox center in Riverton Wyoming. They were shot by a white city park employee with a 40-cal. handgun while they slept. The confessed shooter said he was targeting homeless people who he perceived as a nuisance to the city's public spaces. The thing is neither man was homeless. This was a racially motivated shooting, but change has been slow.

Lately I've been spending my Wednesday mornings in Riverton City Park. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it's safer to interview people outdoors, and I've been asking everyone I run into the same question: Is Riverton, Wyo., on the Wind River Reservation?

TARYN JIM

This week, a federal cold case task force office opened in Billings to investigate unresolved cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous people [MMIP]. It’s one of seven established across Indian Country this summer, part of the Trump administration’s multi-agency initiative, called “Operation Lady Justice,” to combat violence against Native people.

Savannah Maher

After four months under a strict stay-at-home order, residents of the Wind River Reservation will now be able to gather in small groups, enter tribal buildings, and return to work at non-essential jobs on the reservation. Tribal offices and businesses, including casinos, hotels and restaurants, will also be permitted to re-open.

Arapahoe School District

 

Hundreds of students on the Wind River Reservation will begin the school year online. This week the Fort Washakie, Wyoming Indian and Arapahoe districts, as well as St. Stephen's Indian School, became the first in the state to officially opt for virtual instruction.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it's ending the 2020 count a month early, a move that's likely to have a big impact on Indigenous communities in the West.

 


Savannah Maher


This summer, the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers sparked a wave of protests across the country. The first Wyoming community to join that national movement wasn't Laramie or Cheyenne, or even Jackson Hole. It was Riverton.

Jeffrey Denis

Many places around the world have towns with predominantly white populations living in close proximity or directly on tribal land. Dr. Jeffrey Denis is an Associate professor at McMaster University in Canada wanted to see how small border towns like this talk about race. Wyoming Public Radio’s Taylar Stagner talked with Denis about his new book and the connections he made in Northwest Ontario.

The Wind River Reservation has been under a strict stay-at-home order since April, requiring non-essential tribal offices and both tribes' casino operations to remain closed to the public. In a Monday morning online address, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter announced plans to begin re-opening.

The U.S. Census is underway, and many communities of color across the nation are vulnerable to being undercounted this year.

According to a new analysis from Headwaters Economics, more than 700,000 people of color are at risk of being undercounted in the Mountain West alone.

Imagine if your state health department put out a press release specifically naming your family, and listing the number of your family members with COVID-19. 

That, says Ken Lucero, is exactly how it felt in April when New Mexico announced a coronavirus hotspot in his community, the Pueblo of Zia. 

The voting process has long disenfranchised Native American communities. With the COVID-19 pandemic and mail-in voting exacerbating the problem, U.S. senators in the Mountain West and across the country are asking the federal government to make sure voters in Indian Country can cast ballots come November.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

As Native American tribes across the country struggle to contain the coronavirus, the White House has pressured the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to remove its COVID-19 checkpoints on highways in South Dakota, according to a recording of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau. 

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

This Friday is Juneteenth, a national holiday in most states celebrating the end of slavery. There are planned protests around the Mountain West to keep attention on racial injustice and police brutality, including one on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. 

Citizens of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe are eligible for direct COVID-19 relief funds from their tribal government. The money comes from the $10 million fund allocated to the Eastern Shoshone Tribe through the federal government's massive coronavirus stimulus bill known as the CARES Act.

 

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has laid out its plans for spending $19 million in federal coronavirus relief aid that it received through the CARES Act. On behalf of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, Chairman Lee Spoonhunter said more than $5.2 million of the aid will be disbursed directly to tribal citizens who have taken a financial hit due to the pandemic.

At the end of March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, set aside $8 billion for tribes. But the money came with restrictions. It can only be used to cover expenses that are "incurred due to the public health emergency."

Savannah Maher

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Business Councils have extended a strict stay-at-home order and nightly 9 p.m. curfew on the Wind River Reservation, measures intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Tribal members will continue to face tribal court fines and potential jail time for violations at least through the month of June.

After months of refining their business plans, the Wind River Startup Challenge's five finalists pitched a panel of judges on Saturday. Each Native-owned businesses was awarded a portion of the challenge's $25,000 seed fund, but the big winners were a hair salon and a fencing company, which received $10,000 each in debt-free capital.

The U.S. Census Bureau had just begun field operations when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, as the agency is preparing to restart, it’s focusing on rural and tribal communities.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a virtual town hall Tuesday that the reservation hit its peak number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and emergency room visits a few weeks early thanks to social distancing and mask-wearing.

 


The extended Wheeler family of the Wind River Reservation has been hit hard by COVID-19. Several family members were infected in early March after visiting a relative at Lander's Showboat Retirement Center, where it was later announced there was an outbreak. Before long, 14 family members had tested positive for COVID-19, and five were hospitalized.

On April 20, the family lost three loved ones to the disease. Larry and Gloria Wheeler, who had been married more than 50 years, passed away hours before their 55-year-old daughter Dawn Wheeler. A dozen of their relatives shared memories of Larry, Gloria and Dawn in this audio remembrance.

 


Savannah Maher

 

Late Saturday night, the state Department of Health announced that a Fremont County woman was the eighth Wyoming resident to die after testing positive for COVID-19. The Northern Arapaho Business Council has confirmed that the woman was a tribal member.

Fort Washakie School

Over the past two years, the Fort Washakie School has revived a tradition called the 5 Buffalo Days, a week-long celebration of the cultural and ecological significance of buffalo for Plains Native people. This year's celebration had to be moved online, but tribal educators say the lessons students learn during the 5 Buffalo Days are more important than ever. Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher spoke with one of those educators.

 


When you think about Doctors Without Borders you may picture the medical humanitarian NGO working in war-torn countries like Syria or Yemen. But as the COVID-19 crisis lays bare inequalities and vulnerabilities in the U.S., the organization's working here, too, assisting the Navajo Nation in fighting the disease.

Courtesy of the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel


The largest employer in Fremont County isn't a school district or a hospital—it's the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Between the tribal government and its enterprises, they put more than 1,000 people to work.

Pages