Mending Fences symposium on EPA lawsuit surrounding Riverton’s status is tomorrow

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Wyoming citizens have voiced concerns about recent federal recognition of Riverton as part of the Wind River Reservation. Sponsors of a May 6 symposium at Central Wyoming College in Riverton want to ease those concerns and generate conversations about settling two related federal lawsuits.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend a panel discussion on May 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at the CWC Intertribal Education and Community Center, Wind River Room.

“We hope the event will spark positive discussion and creative thinking,” said Anthony  “Al” Addison, Arapaho Business Council Member.

The symposium will explore the experience of a Michigan community that settled a similar federal lawsuit. In 2010, parties to a 100-year-old disagreement on the Isabella Reservation in south-central Michigan overcame incredible adversity to reach accord.

Ultimately, the State of Michigan, the City of Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe settled the litigation. In the process, they vastly improved
Native and non-Native relations there, officials said.

“Initially, I think we all thought we were going to resolve the lawsuit in court,” said Mt. Pleasant City Commissioner Kathleen Ling. “But in the process of sitting down and talking to each other (in mediation) we realized we weren’t as far apart as people had initially thought.”

The May 6 symposium will feature panelists, including Ling, who helped forge the Michigan settlement agreements. They will discuss:

• How they came together to solve complex jurisdictional, land, and tax issues.
• Why settlement was better than letting a federal judge impose a resolution.
• How settlement agreements improved day-to-day coordination between the Native and non-Native communities.
• How those agreements are working today.
• How we can create a similar settlement strategy here in Wyoming.

The symposium theme is, “Mending Fences: How one Michigan town settled its reservation boundary battle without the courts.”

–Provided by the Northern Arapaho Tribe