Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Wind River Indian Reservation Boundaries

Attorney: Donald R. Wharton


NARF has been retained by the Eastern Shoshone Tribe (EST) of the Shoshone or Wind River Indian Reservation to analyze the Surplus Land Act of March 3, 1905, and other legislation and cases to determine their implications for the reservation’s boundaries.

The most active matter related to the reservation boundary issue is an ongoing appeal of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that the EST and Northern Arapaho Tribe (NAT) qualify for a delegation of certain Clean Air Act programs.

In December 2008, the EST and (NAT) cooperated in an application to the U.S. EPA for delegation of “treatment in the same manner as a state” in the administration of certain Clean Air Act programs. EPA issued its approval of their application and delegation in December 2013.  In its approval decision, EPA determined that the boundaries of the reservation were not altered by the March 3, 1905 Surplus Land Act that opened the reservation to settlement by non-Indians.

The State of Wyoming filed a Petition for Reconsideration and Stay with EPA in January 2014. That Petition for a Stay was granted in part by the EPA as to lands over which jurisdiction is in dispute.

In February 2014, Wyoming filed a Petition for Review in the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which was followed by separate petitions from Devon Energy and the Wyoming Farm Bureau.  The court consolidated the three petitions into one case.

Devon Energy, which engaged in mediation with the tribes, has since dismissed their petition.

The City of Riverton and Fremont County have filed Motions for Intervention on the side of the state. Those motions are pending.

The EST and NAT intervened on the side of the US EPA to defend the EPA’s determination to make the delegation and that the boundary of the reservation was not altered by the 1905 Surplus Land Act.

The tribes were unsuccessful in urging the parties to sit down for negotiations in mediation or other settings to address the broad range of issues facing all of the parties. Briefing has been completed and oral argument was held on November 17, 2015.  Supplemental briefs on “Mootness” were filed by all parties on December 1, 2015.

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