Is RIVERTON, WYOMING, part of the Wind River Reservation?
- Saturday, 11 January 2014 11:12
At the risk of being assaulted on the streets of Riverton the next time we’re there, we would like to comment on an issue that is sure to stir tempers over the next few years: the correct boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation in the state of Wyoming.
The EPA recently ruled that a 1905 ACT passed by Congress which allowed settlers to claim lands within the boundaries of the Reservation did not nullify the Reservation boundaries, which means that the current town of Riverton, Wyoming, sits on the Wind River Reservation.
For those of us obsessed with history, this is not news. Honestly, we think the State of Wyoming is wrong in its attempt to have the EPA decision overturned. When you look at the 1905 Act, and then the legal history that follows, it is clear that the State of Wyoming considered Riverton to be part of the Reservation all the way up until at least the 1970s, when the State seems to have “forgotten.” For example, in 1907 the State of Wyoming published its annual “Book of Reliable Information Published by Authority of the Ninth Legislature” where it described Riverton as “within the Reservation.” In 1913, and again in 1932, DOI described the Reservation as encompassing 2,238,644 acres” which included the town of Riverton. Then, in 1972, Senator Teno Roncalio (WY) introduced a bill in the US Congress to authorize federal funds for the construction of an Indian Arts and Cultural Center in Riverton. The bill stated that Riverton is “located within the Wind River Indian Reservation.” Since the 1970s there have been a number of contested legal cases involving the reservation boundaries where decisions have gone back and forth.
However, in the end, we think our beloved Wyoming will spend a lot of money waging legal battles it cannot win.
For those who think the EPA decision relates only to issues of the Clean Air Act, think again. If Riverton is within the reservation boundaries, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have jurisdiction over police, fire, water, and may be entitled to all State, county, or city property, within the disputed area, which totals over one million acres.
We wish both sides would just sit down and talk this out. The ramifications are far-reaching and potentially explosive if logical minds do not prevail.
Hope everyone is having a great 2014 thus far.
Mike and Kathy