Wind River Reservation Interpretive Plan; First one ever for a United States Indian Reservation

(Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyo.) – An Interpretive Plan for the Wind River Indian Reservation, the first ever done for a reservation in the United States, is now 90 percent complete. Work on the plan began in January 2009.  The goal of planners is to have the document completed by this October.

“Why are we doing this?” asked Cheryl Hazlitt at a meeting of stakeholders Tuesday night in Riverton. “We are all defined by stories, we carry stories of our home, place, events and our ancestors. These stories surround us and impact our lives. They can move us forward, or hold us back depending on how we carry them. This story is about these tribes on this reservation.” Hazlitt is the project manager and lead interpretive planner for the USDA Forest Service- Center for Design and Interpretation in Colorado, one of the partners in the effort.

The draft interpretive plan document is made up of 11 sections and represents the Tribes’ important history and sites, from their point of view. The effort has been facilitated by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, the Wyoming Office of Tourism and the Tribes of Wind River.

USDA Forest Service's Cheryl Hazlitt explained the plan. (EO)

USDA Forest Service’s Cheryl Hazlitt explained the plan. (EO)

“This plan establishes a framework, a roadmap for future efforts and it represents a coordinated and unified approach to interpretation,” Hazlitt said. “What we do when telling stories is to tell the truth. Not everyone likes to hear it, but that’s how we get by it.”

The overall theme of the interpretation is a strong statement, Hazlitt said. “The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho are resilient people who have sustained their traditions, environment, communities and cultural values in the face of land theft and cultural suppression.”

Of the major 11 themes in the plan, each contains a number of sub sections, or stories to be told through interpretation.  The plan spells out what non-native people should know about the Reservation, the people who live there, and their cultural heritage. The plan also indicates what Reservation residents should know and remember.

The draft plan proposes historical kiosks and information signage around important points of interest on the Reservation. The locations were chosen by Tribal representatives and interested parties at 18 meetings held last year and this. A total of 24 points of interest were selected.

Entrance portals are also proposed “to increase visibility from the roadway and makes the Reservation entrances very clear,” according to the plan. At the present time, the signage consists of white on green metal signs produced by WYDOT and placed adjacent to highways. The major entrance portals could feature statuary at major locations with interpretive signage or informational kiosks around Reservation communities.

The draft plan can be reviewed by clicking here.