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State of Wyoming in scuffle with EPA over Indian land

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The Governor of Wyoming, Matt Mead, promised to challenge a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling that one million acres of land in the western part of the state still belong to Native American tribes, namely the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes, according to Reuters, Dec. 21, 2013. In a letter to the United States Environmental Agency last week, Mead denoted that he had directed Wyoming's Attorney General to "take aggressive action" to overturn the agency's ruling, which he believes would be harmful to the state.

Additionally, a U.S.study determined that tribes should have access to the land, which includes the city of Riverton which had been opened up to non-tribal members in 1905 by an act of Congress. Mead stated that the Wyoming Supreme Court already had dealt with the issue and ruled that the land in question did was not "within the boundaries of the reservation."

Wyoming state officials described the EPA's decision as a land grab. However, Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribe representatives described the decision as "long overdue," especially since the tribes have had little say in decisions pertaining to Riverton, such as air quality, for a very long time.

In glancing at history, one will find that the Shoshone Indians led the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and gave them safe passage across the country. Now they need safe passage through the court system to keep the land of their ancestors, their legends, their legacy and their dreams to pass onto their children. With all due respect, Governor Mead, you are on the wrong side of history on this issue.

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