Poor photograph of the Wind River Indian Reservation Tribal Court.
I'm a member of the Wind River Reservation's bar so it pains me to see some strife over the future of the Court.
For a very long time, indeed since I think it became an independent tribal court after no longer being a BIA court, the Tribal court has been just that. The court for both of the Tribes, the Shoshone and the Arapaho, on the Wind River Reservation. Both tribes managed their affairs jointly through a Joint Business Council.
But the Arapahos withdrew from the council within the last couple of years and now a suit has been filed in which it argues that the BIA must deal separately with it. It also seeks to establish its own courts. Basically, it wants complete administrative separation and for the Federal government to treat the Arapaho tribe separately.
Making the situation worse, the Arapahos constitute 70% of the Wind River's population, but the Joint Business Council, which is now all Shoshone, has kept on keeping on as the recognized tribal government nonetheless. And they haven't been shy about it. They simply are treating the Arapaho absence as temporary.
This dredges up old problems on the Reservation. I noted a little of the history on the page I have on this blog on Tribal Court jurisdiction when I noted that the Reservation was created in 1863 for the Shoshones, at their request, and didn't become the home for the Arapahos until 1878, something that was supposed to be temporary. At that time the Northern Arapahos were a very small tribe, and actually an enemy of the Shoshones, but now they outnumber them.
I have to admit that they have a point. The official policy of the US is to encourage Tribal sovereignty and therefore they are a sovereign nation. If they don't want to participate in a joint administration, I guess they don't have to. But how there can be two separate bodies administering the same lands, let alone two separate courts, is difficult to grasp.