Opinion

Editorial: Tribes take over border town with help from EPA





Washington, D.C., newspaper slams the Environmental Protection Agency for recognizing the sovereignty of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe:
Residents of Riverton, a quiet town of 11,000 in Wyoming, were shocked to wake up one recent morning to learn they were now Indians. Sort of. Their town had been taken over by an Indian tribe without a bullet or arrow being fired. This hasn’t happened since Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, having put the torch to the South, arrived to take on the Nez Perce. Yet no battles took place last month. The Environmental Protection Agency simply approved an application by the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to declare the newly expanded tribal region henceforth be treated “as a state.”

Thousands of Wyoming palefaces were swept into Indian jurisdiction, without treaty or authorization of Congress. Riverton residents didn’t even get any beads.

Matt Mead, the Republican governor, is furious. “This decision goes against 100 years of history,” he said, “involving over a million acres of land. It is not a decision that should come from a regulatory agency. I believe the EPA is in the wrong and I will not honor its decision.”

In 1905, Congress set the boundaries for the Wind River Reservation based on treaties worked out over the course of two decades. The EPA unilaterally declared that the treaty, which set out that the tribes would “surrender, forever and absolutely” the land in question, didn’t really mean what the words plainly say. The government bureaucrats, not necessarily distinguished in constitutional law, came up with a convoluted interpretation that under the Clean Air Act, the tribes and not the state can now dictate environmental policy in the disputed region.

Get the Story:
EDITORIAL: Wyoming town taken over by an Indian tribe (The Washington Times 1/21)

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