Ron Feemster, Wyofile

NIGA Takes Stand With Wind River Against Opposing State Legislation

Gale Courey Toensing
5/21/14

The National Indian Gaming Association has promised to fight a proposed bill that would terminate 170,000 acres of the Wind River Reservation and set a dangerous precedent for state expropriation of land throughout Indian country.

The resolution “To Oppose Legislation Terminating Portions of the Wind River Reservation” was adopted unanimously by NIGA’s member tribes attending the association’s annual Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Conference, which took place this year in San Diego during the week of May 11.

The 2.3 million acre Wind River Reservation in west central Wyoming is shared by the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming is one of four groups of Arapaho who originally occupied the headwaters of the Arkansas and Platte Rivers, according to the tribe’s website. Culturally, they are Plains Indians, but socially and historically distinct. After signing the Treaty of 1851, the Arapaho and Cheyenne then shared land encompassing one-sixth of Wyoming, one-quarter of Colorado and parts of western Kansas and Nebraska. Later, when the Treaty of 1868 left the Northern Arapaho without a land base, they were placed with the Shoshone in west central Wyoming, on the Wind River Reservation.

In 2008, the Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for “Treatment as States” status, a provision under the 1970 Clean Air Act that would allow them to monitor air quality on the reservation. Last December, the EPA granted the tribes the status, which includes jurisdiction over the City of Riverton and its residents. The EPA decision did not sit well with the state government or its agencies.

RELATED: EPA Says Wind River Reservation Can Monitor Air Quality

“The State of Wyoming and its Gov. Matt Mead have promised to put forth all resources to fight this EPA decision,” Ronald K. Oldman, Northern Arapaho Business Council co-chair, told the NIGA members.

RELATED: Wyoming Senators Look to Deny EPA’s Wind River Ruling

The state and state Farm Bureau subsequently filed a complaint with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver asking for a review of the EPA decision. Mead also asked the state’s congressional delegates to draft a bill terminating the reservation status of the 170,000 acres, which they did, including Republican Sen. Jon Barrasso, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Oldman said.

RELATED: Wyoming Senator Drafts Bill ‘To Clarify’ Reservation Borders

“So once again the Northern Arapaho people have come before the NIGA to ask from the bottom of our hearts for your sincere help,” Oldman said. “We also ask that you go home to your home states and ask your congressional delegations to oppose any legislation diminishing our reservation. If they can do it to our reservation they can do it to others.”

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
This is an outrage! I encourage ALL native peoples to support our brethren of this reservation to fight this with all resources at our disposal. This case could set a precedence none of we First Nations people want to see happen: Ending OUR tribal nations status! this was tried decades ago & now here it is lifting its ugly head again in the state of Wyoming! ......................................................................................................................... It's high time we use our combined clout both financially, business-wise, professionally, legally & call all markers we have owed to us all across the USA & start a campaign boycotting all things Wyoming: Their businesses, parks, recreation, their entire vacation promotions, etc. ......................................................................................................................... If this state wants to start something then they had damn well better be ready to suffer the consequences of their arrogance, egotistical, bigotry & racism! Now start canceling those vacations & conventions right now! Move those tribally-owned businesses out of Wyoming & to somewhere our many peoples are respected & treated as equals. ......................................................................................................................... We native people don't have to set around like some whipping boy to amuse these ignorant ones. Time for another Idle No More get together all my friends across Indian Country! Hoa! ......................................................................................................................... March against racism, bigotry & ignorant red necks! Boycott Wyoming until their state government comes to their senses! We no longer have to tolerate anything or anyone that is trying to end our tribal nations. Hit these folks where it counts most: Their wallet! ......................................................................................................................... Now lets get busy!
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