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Savannah Maher

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them. 

Savannah got her start in journalism reporting for her hometown’s local newspaper (The Mashpee Enterprise) and public radio station (WCAI), and has since contributed to New Hampshire Public Radio, High Country News, and NPR’s Code Switch blog. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2018.

  

The Biden administration will restore the White House Council on Native American Affairs, an interagency initiative that coordinates federal services and policies that impact tribal nations. The council was first launched under former President Obama, but went dark for most of the Trump years.

 

Last month, Deb Haaland made history as the first Indigenous person ever confirmed by the Senate to serve in a president's cabinet. In her first official trip as secretary of the Interior, she visited the Mountain West with a focus on tribal issues.

This is the second in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part one looks at the success of the rollout on rural reservations.

 

This week, federal officials issued dire warnings of a potential fourth wave of coronavirus cases and deaths if Americans let their guards down. President Joe Biden urged governors to maintain or reinstate mask mandates to ward off a surge.

 

This is the first in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part two looks at the challenges of vaccinating our region's urban Native population. 

 

 

Some Indigenous histories are preserved in stories, songs, ceremonies and elder testimony that are passed down orally - rather than with written records. These histories can constitute important evidence of past events. But they're sometimes ruled inadmissible as evidence in the American justice system.

 

Most students enrolled half-time or more in college typically aren't eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), sometimes known as food stamps. But temporary changes to the federal program are allowing some low-income students to take advantage during the pandemic.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law on Friday. It includes the largest ever one-time federal investment in Indian Country, with $20 billion in direct aid to tribal governments, and another $11 billion set aside for federal Indian programs.
 

The aid comes as many tribal nations in the Mountain West are struggling to stay afloat.

 

Jazmine Wildcat is a star student in Riverton, Wyoming. Not the type to skip class. But on Tuesday morning, a piece of history was unfolding that the 17-year-old just couldn't miss: A congressional hearing to consider the confirmation of Deb Haaland as the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior.

"It is just super monumental and so inspiring, not only to just me, but probably other Native women," Jazmine said.

It's a Wednesday evening in December. Five o'clock means the end of my work day, and the start of Wampanoag language class.

"Wunee wunôq," my language teacher, Tracy Kelly, greets me as I join the Zoom call from my kitchen table in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

 

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland is poised to become our nation's first Indigenous cabinet secretary. As some prominent Mountain West lawmakers oppose her confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior, many of their Indigenous constituents are pushing back.

 

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden ordered a temporary suspension of new leasing and permitting for oil and gas development on public lands. But the order will not apply to tribal lands.

This is the second story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Cole Stump was a Montanan, through and through. The 29-year-old citizen of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe was raised on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in the north-central part of the state and had family ties to the Fort Peck Reservation in the northeast corner. He was a loving father of five and a skilled ranch hand.


Soon after she was elected as one of America's first Indigenous congresswomen in 2018, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland paid a visit to her constituents at the Pueblo of Sandia, just outside of Albuquerque. 

"She came to the Pueblo for one of our feast days," said Stephine Poston, a tribal citizen and advocate for Native women leadership. "And the young girls, a couple of them were following her around and she stopped to talk to them. It was an amazing thing to see and witness." 

Poston said Haaland may as well have been a celebrity to those girls, but she didn't act like one. 

"She's just that person who will stop and see you," Poston said. 

And she said that's how Pueblo people, and Indigenous people across the country, have been feeling since Haaland was nominated to lead the Department of the Interior: Seen.

Karen Snyder has never been afraid to use her voice. She learned that from the women who raised her on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

"I come from a very long line of strong women. Grandmothers, mothers, a very strong line of women that are very outspoken," Snyder said.

That came in handy in 2016, when she was elected as one of two women on the six-person Eastern Shoshone Business Council.

In April, Google and Apple launched software that state health authorities can use to build COVID-19 contact tracing apps. But fewer than half of U.S. states have taken advantage, and most people living in those states aren't putting the apps to use.

In the Mountain West, Colorado's Exposure Notifications app has had the most success, with about 20% of the state's population having downloaded it. But fewer than 3% of Wyoming and Nevada residents have downloaded their states' smartphone apps.

About a week before Election Day, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming State Rep. Andi Clifford squeezed in some roadside campaigning outside of a community hall in Arapahoe.

"Normally we would've been inside," she said. "But we can't, so we're out here."

The reservation's public health orders prohibit large, indoor gatherings. So as Clifford seeks a second term representing Wind River, she and her team have been spending a lot of time outside in the cold.

Lately I've been spending my Wednesday mornings in Riverton City Park. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it's safer to interview people outdoors, and I've been asking everyone I run into the same question: Is Riverton, Wyo., on the Wind River Reservation?

This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

For the past 140 years, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have both called the Wind River Valley home.

They didn't choose to share this reservation - and it's no secret that the two tribal governments don't always agree. But since the start of the pandemic, they've been on the same page about one thing.