After years of turmoil, WR tribes approve agreement on joint programs

Jul 23, 2017 From staff reports

The chairmen of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho business councils signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday, agreeing to a system -- the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council -- to re-establish and govern joint programs on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

A draft of the MOU had been circulated as early as April, but the newly signed agreement has been updated to emphasize that it "does not re-establish the former business council but represents a new cooperative system adopted by the tribes to better meet the future needs of the Wind River Reservation."

Five topics

Most of the new work is set to be done by five subcommittees, each served by two council-members from each tribe to address five key issues: Natural Resources, transportation, judiciary, education and solid waste.

Joint programs had been in disarray since the Northern Arapaho withdrew from the Joint Business Council in 2014.

NABC council-members had also argued at the time that they should have more say in joint programming on the reservation given that Arapaho tribal members constitute roughly 70 percent of all enrolled American Indians on the reservation.

Under the new systems, the subcommittees -- known as advisory commissions -- will provide recommendations and information to both tribes "regarding shared resources, assets and programs unless otherwise specified in the Shoshone and Arapaho Law and Order Code."

The natural resources commission is charged with governing environmental quality, fish and game, conservation, land resources, minerals, range management and leases.

The judiciary commission is set to govern issues concerning tribal court, family court, court administration, the prosecutor's office, public defender's office, probation, child support and the ad hoc advisory board.

The education commission will govern the Johnson O'Malley program, Headstart, early intervention and funding for St. Stephen's.

The solid waste commission will make recommendations on transfer stations and water systems while the transportation commission will handle road maintenance and construction.

Each program is assigned to an advisory commission, which are charged with working directly with program directs and maintaining records of their meetings.

The MOU orders regular inter-tribal meetings to be scheduled once a month with a quorum of at least four members from each tribal council.

Any action requires a majority vote from votes tribes, and minutes are required to be taken by audio recording.

The MOU also calls for the re-establishment of a financial office, and the chief financial officer is required to hold a CPA or "equivalent licensure." A human resources office and administrator are also set for establishment.

The MOU is set to expire two years from Thursday unless extended by a written agreement.

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