Lander—In an important Wyoming civil rights case, a federal judge rejected two voting schemes proposed by Fremont County as perpetuating “separation, isolation, and racial polarization in the county.”Instead, U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson, of Cheyenne, ordered the county to provide for district election of county commissioners along lines proposed by members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. The tribal plan includes one district that is largely Native American.Judge Johnson’s Tuesday, August 10, order marked a clear victory for tribal plaintiffs in the 2005 voting rights case. The case is one in a series of lawsuits claiming discrimination against minorities, including Native Americans living on reservations Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming, under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
FORT WASHAKIE—Mike Shockley is used to working alone. An officer in the Bureau of Indian Affairs police, he was until recently one of just two assigned to night patrols on the Wind River Indian Reservation, an area so vast that he sometimes drove 400 miles in a single shift. Backup? Forget about it. Chances are the other guy was 40 minutes away. As a reservation policeman, you learn to handle stuff on your own.Not anymore. One night last month, the 37-year-old from Cheyenne was one of four officers who pulled up at a house in separate vehicles, emergency lights flashing, to investigate a report of underage drinking. Two set off in hot pursuit of a 16-year-old girl who had bolted out the back of the house. The pair tackled her in the dirt and the three of them went sprawling, with Shockley bringing up the rear. The teenager was led away in handcuffs.
THERMOPOLIS—Indians and whites have been doing business together since the time of Columbus—almost invariably to the Indians’ detriment. But the announcement last year that the Northern Arapaho tribe had been tapped to supply organic grass-fed beef to Whole Foods Markets seemed like a win for all concerned: The tribe would make money off its land, the grocery chain would score points for environmental and social responsibility, and consumers would enjoy the health and culinary benefits of eating free-range beef with a Native American pedigree.Alas, it hasn’t worked out that way.
ARAPAHOE—The girls were familiar with loss. Like too many of their classmates on the Wind River Indian Reservation, they come from broken families and have witnessed first-hand the havoc that alcohol and drugs visit on their community. But there was something about the death of Marisa Spoonhunter that hit them particularly hard.
Lander—A federal court decision ordering Fremont County to scrap its system of electing commissioners on a county-wide basis is a major victory for Native Americans who have long complained they are under-represented on the county