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Language is clear; Riverton townsite was removed from the reservation, with no lease

Mar 13, 2014 - Tess Piercy, Riverton


The recent letter to the editor about a lease of the Riverton tons requires a factual response.

Apparently, there are area residents who continue to want to believe that there was a 99-year lease by which the tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation allowed the establishment of the municipality of Riverton, and that the lease has now expired.

But, in fact, there never was such a lease.

In 1904, representatives of the U.S. government met with representatives of the two tribes and negotiated an agreement by which the tribes disposed of lands north of Wind River that had been a part of the reservation. The agreement was approved by a majority of the voting male tribal members on the reservation. The agreement was forwarded to Washington, D.C., where it was rati@257;ed by the U.S. Congress in 1905.

Both the agreement and the act as approved by Congress state:

"The Indians belonging on the Shoshone or Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, for the consideration hereinafter named, do hereby cede, grant, and relinquish to the United States, all right, title and interest which they may have to all lands embraced within the said reservation [which lie north of the Wind River] ... . In consideration of the lands ceded, granted, relinquished, and conveyed ... the United States stipulates and agrees to dispose of the same ... under the provisions of the homestead, townsite, coal and mineral land laws ... "

In 1906 a group of men then living in Shoshoni established a company which applied to the U.S. government for the right to establish a town on the site where Riverton is now located. That site was part of the lands ceded by the tribes to the U.S. government in the I904 agreement.

The government approved the townsite application, and the company proceeded to survey the townsite and to allocate town lots under the government-approved system of squatters rights.

Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- in the agreement, the congressional act, or the Riverton townsite documents makes any reference to a lease.

For the members of the Riverton Museum Association,

Tess Piercy


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