Tribe wants building in 'trust' statusNov 26, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer
The Northern Arapaho Tribe has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take a Riverton property it owns into trust status.
If granted, the designation would be unprecedented within the Riverton City limits.
The building at 230 W. Main, formerly owned by the Riverton Valley Electric Association and then High Plains Power, has been tribal property since 2014.
The tribe uses the building to house Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance, Indian Child Welfare and other social services.
In a statement provided to The Ranger, the tribe said that removing the land from county property tax rolls would help "stretch its limited social services funding."
Any tax loss to the county would be offset by the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, the tribe argued.
The tribe also said that its casino gaming and related economic benefits for the community far outweigh any economic loss from the creation of trust land.
The tribe stressed that it would not propose a change in use of the property and is committed to following the City of Riverton's land use and zoning plan that was adopted in 2010.
The property currently has $6,518 levied on it each year, according to the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, and is subject to zoning by the city.
A change to trust status would mean the federal government would hold the legal title to the land while the beneficial interest would reside with the tribe.
In a letter to the local BIA superintendent, Wyoming senior assistant attorney general Erik Petersen asked the BIA to deny the request, noting that the parcels are "located outside the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation."
"Even assuming that the tribe has an interest in these properties, granting the application would present significant practical concerns, including the unnecessary creation of a jurisdictional "checker-board" outside the Wind River Indian Reservation," Petersen said.
Fremont County Commission chairman Travis Becker also protested the tribe's request in a letter to the BIA, saying the tribe "has failed to demonstrate adequate need for additional land."
The Arapaho also have requested that several other parcels of land, including some near Pavillion and U.S. Highway 26 be taken into trust status.