(Ethete, Wyo.) – The Northern Arapaho Business Council denounced the murder and attempted murder of two homeless tribal members by a Riverton City Parks and Recreation employee, calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute the shootings as hate crimes. The call was issued in a news release issued by the Tribe.
“Stallone Trosper and Sonny Goggles are part of our community, they are members of our Tribe, they are human beings, and they matter to us,” said Northern Arapaho Business Councilman Norman Willow. “We are sickened by what has happened here.”
“The trend of violence against Indian people in and around Riverton is alarming,” said Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Dean Goggles. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families. It’s our responsibility as tribal leaders to do everything we can to try and stop these crimes of hate.”
“We see the need for an investigation by the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division,” said Councilmember Richard Brannan. “The Council has received a steady stream of reports about abusive behavior towards native people. In 2013, a Northern Arapaho woman was shot in the face by a passing car in Riverton, and the Riverton Hospital released her without treatment. Now, another two of our tribal members have been gunned down while in a shelter. I’ve lived here my whole life, and the anti-Indian sentiment seems to be getting worse.”
“We appreciate the public statements from Mayor Baker and Chief Broadhead,” said Councilmember Ronald Oldman. “We are glad to have some good people to work with in the Riverton City Government. We agree that the incident in Charleston, South Carolina, can serve as an example as our community begins to process what has happened here. Like in Charleston, people need to acknowledge that racism played a role in this.” The Business Council plans to meet with City representatives this week.
“This violence against Native Americans has to stop,” said Co-Chairman Ron McElroy. “Community leaders need to be honest about what is happening here. The Tribe has tried to reach out and address some of these matters through intergovernmental agreements we presented to Riverton a few years ago. Last year we hosted the ‘Mending Fences’ symposium, but we need more cooperation from local and federal government to make it clear that these attitudes and this sort of hate is not acceptable.”
Tribal leaders will travel to Washington, D.C. to formally present their request to the Obama Administration.