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Northern Arapaho tribe renovates halls that double as emergency and community centers

Great Plains Hall in Arapahoe, Wyoming under construction spring 2022.
Taylar Dawn Stagner
Wyoming Public Media

The halls have been used as FEMA Command centers during emergency situations but they have only been 10 percent functional for the last several years. That's according to Ryan Otis, the chief financial officer of the Northern Arapaho tribe.

The Northern Arapaho are using Cares Act money as well as American Rescue Plan Act funds for renovations but Ortis said that they are funding the recreational equipment separately.

"Just over $200,000 of the tribe's unrestricted money [will go] to upgrade some of the recreational components of the house, like new scoreboards, new re-sanding of the basketball court and new retractable basketball hoops," he said. 

Ortis also said that the renovations are long overdue and both halls will finally have working kitchens and bathrooms for not only emergency situations but also community gathering events.

"Just as an example, at Great Plains the showers in the locker rooms didn't work. So, even though it's a community emergency shelter the showers didn't work, the kitchen didn't work, there was only one set of bathrooms that worked," he said. 

In addition, the halls have been eradicated of asbestos. Ortis said the tribe is planning a grand opening ceremony this year.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.

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