Wind River Reservation

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.

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.

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.

Savannah Maher


More than 100 people gathered at Riverton City Park on Monday night to honor George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died last week after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Demonstrators chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for Floyd" along Federal Boulevard before holding a candlelight vigil for Floyd. The event, which was organized by young people from the Wind River Reservation, remained peaceful.

Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher compiled this audio postcard from the vigil, featuring the voices of Black and Indigenous demonstrators.

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.

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.

 


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.

Savannah Maher

For more than a month, there has been a strict stay-at-home order on the Wind River Reservation. Tribal members face court fines and potential jail time for violating it. Starting Friday, May 8, they will also be subject to a nightly 9 p.m. curfew.

"The Northern Arapaho Business Council and the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, as advised by authorized Medical Officers, specifically deem this order necessary to protect the public health," the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council wrote in a resolution signed on May 6.

Savannah Maher

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

For the past 140 years, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have both called the Wind River Valley home.

They didn't choose to share this reservation - and it's no secret that the two tribal governments don't always agree. But since the start of the pandemic, they've been on the same page about one thing.

Four members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who had tested positive for COVID-19 died from complications of the illness on Monday. Chairman Lee Spoonhunter of the Northern Arapaho Business Council shared the news with the tribal community during a live web address on Tuesday morning.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare


While the state of Wyoming hasn't issued a stay-at-home order, tribal members on the Wind River Reservation face fines and even jail time for violating one there. The reservation is also one of the only places in the state where mass COVID-19 testing is being conducted. Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, which is operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is offering testing to any tribal member who wants it and quarantine housing to those who test positive.

Dr. Paul Ebbert, Chief Medical Officer of Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher about the clinic and the tribe's strategy for flattening the curve.

Savannah Maher

Members of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes now face fines of up to $150 and even jail time for violating a stay-at-home order on the Wind River Reservation.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare/Lisa Yawakia

COVID-19 testing resources remain limited around Wyoming and the country. But one clinic that's operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe has emerged as a leader in the state when it comes to testing.

Wind River Hotel and Casino

 

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes' casinos have been shut down for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And they're not alone. Across the country, more than 500 tribal gaming enterprises have closed their doors. That means an abrupt loss of revenue for tribal governments, which, unlike cities and states, don't have a tax base to fall back on.

Arapahoe School District

This story is part of a two-part series on how schools across the state are handling the switch to adapted learning.

This week, all 48 Wyoming school districts launched their adapted learning plans. For some, that means leaning more heavily on online tools that had already been incorporated into the curriculum. But other districts, including many on the Wind River Reservation, are starting from scratch.

U.S. Census Bureau

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have both mounted outreach efforts to ensure their members have the tools to complete the 2020 census. But the COVID-19 pandemic could get in the way of a complete count on the Wind River Reservation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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