Monday, October 10, 2016

The Shoshone - Arapaho Disagreement comes to a head in Tribal Court

There's a truly odd spectacle playing out in Fremont County, Wyoming, but it's getting little attention.

As has been noted here before, the Arapahos have pulled out of the Joint Business Council, the body that has administered the Reservation for quite some time.  Outnumbering the Shoshones, they have become discontent with the council and have been moving towards separate administration for quite awhile.

Now this has expressed itself, of all places, in the jointly administered Tribal Court.  It has the appearance of a real disaster in the making.

Apparently the Bureau of Indian Affairs has quit funding the court (and perhaps other things as well).  Indeed, the BIA has apparently announced that it will recreate a Bureau of Indian Affairs Court, which the Wind River Reservation  has not had since taking over the administration of its legal system in the 1970s.  BIA courts administer according to "traditional" concepts, so its unclear if the Law & Order Code of the Wind River Reservation will apply in the BIA Court, should it be restored.  The Law & Order Code, for its part, is a joint code, and in recent years the Arapahos have crated their own legal code that applies to some things, but not all.

Following this, the Joint Business Council, which now seats only Shoshone members, the Arapahos, in the style of Irish Nationalist of the teens, aren't taking seats, determined to lay off all the Court's employees, which would effectively shout it down and require the BIA to step in. The Tribal Court judge, however, who right now has the unqualified worst legal job in the State of Wyoming, issued a ruling vacating that order, although its not clear how the employees of the court will be paid.  The Court ruled that the Eastern Shoshone Tribe could not act in vacuum without the Arapahos, which makes some sense, but which is ironic in light of the threat of the Arapahos just a couple of years ago to form their own court.

What a mess.

All of this, of course, is illustrative of preserving a dicey decision.  The Shoshones had not really wanted the Arapahos on their reservation in the first place, they were enemies.  The allowance for them to be there was temporary, in the 1870s, but its obviously permanent now.  In human terms, that's not very long ago.  And now a problem that's been brewing has really come to ahead.

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