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Northern Arapaho Leaders Call On All Tribes to Oppose Bill

A new push by U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to terminate a portion of the Wind River Reservation should appall and worry Native American people everywhere, Northern Arapaho leaders said Tuesday.

Draft legislation by Enzi, and supported by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would eliminate the reservation status of a significant portion of Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone homeland in central Wyoming.

“It's chilling to see this kind of attack on Indian Country in 2014,” said Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Darrell O'Neal.

The bill is a response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to treat the Wind River tribes as a state under the Clean Air Act. A detailed legal analysis in the EPA decision concluded that the town of Riverton is part of the Wind River Reservation, a position the tribes have always held.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has asked the federal courts to determine whether the EPA analysis is correct. Enzi has decided instead to change the law.

In doing so, Enzi has turned his back on his approximately 15,000 tribal constituents in Wyoming, Northern Arapaho leaders said.

Northern Arapaho leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to confront members of the Wyoming’s delegation about the bill and their opposition to the tribes’ treatment as a state application.

“We asked them to reconsider, to open their minds and work with us in good faith,” said Councilman Al Addison, “but they were not interested.”

As a result, tribal leaders made a call Tuesday for support and prayers from Native American people and governments everywhere. Tribal people must work together to prevent the loss of any more of our precious homelands, Chairman O'Neal said.

“If the Wyoming Delegation can do this to us, they can do it to any tribe in the nation,” O'Neal added.

Enzi was part of a similar anti-sovereignty campaign during the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s successful effort to secure gaming more than a decade ago. Once again, Enzi has demonstrated he is no friend of the tribes, tribal leaders said.

“We've seen these kinds of tactics from Senator Enzi before,” said Northern Arapaho Business Council Co-Chairman Ronald Oldman. “They didn't work in our gaming case, and they won't work here.”

 

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