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Shoshones pull nominees for state's liaison job; funds have been reduced

Jan 11, 2018 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Eastern Shoshone tribe has withdrawn its nominees for Wyoming Governor's Tribal Liaison.

Gov. Matt Mead had sought $160,000 in his supplemental budget proposal to the state's Joint Appropriations Committee to fund the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal liaisons for the state this fiscal year, but only half that amount was appropriated by the Wyoming Legislature.

The governor's office then prepared job descriptions last summer and offered the positions as part-time.

Both tribes submitted candidates for the positions, and the governor appointed Cy Lee to be the Arapaho liaison. His appointment became effective Nov. 1.

Withdrawal

After the funding cut, however, the Shoshones pulled their nominees.

"They were concerned with the low level of funding, the part-time nature of the position, and the high expectations combined with the current funding running out in June," Mead policy adviser Colin McKee said.

According to a letter addressed to the governor, the Shoshone tribe requested that the position remain vacant.

"The withdrawal is not an indictment on the individuals that were nominated but is centered on the concern with the timeline and the practicality of a hire to be successful," SBC chairman Clint Wagon wrote.

Wagon noted it wasn't a good time for a liaison to start the job because annual reports would be due soon to the JAC and the Select Committee on Tribal Relations.

Also, the new liaison would need to acquire a "vast amount of information and accompanying history on all the past and current issues that exist between the tribe and state" in a short amount of time. "That is in addition to the overall issue on the stability of the program for the future," Wagon added.

The position has since re-mained vacant.

More money?

Wyoming Rep. Jim Allen, R-Lander, a strong supporter of the positions, said there's a possibility of proposing a budget amendment to modify the funding allocation for the liaisons.

Since 2018's is a budget session, he noted, he can't bring bills to, for instance, fully fund the liaisons.

"The governor has requested full tribal liaison funding for the 2019-2020 biennium," Allen added. "I can try to advocate for his request, but state revenues remain tight and passage is uncertain."

Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who has also advocated for the positions, agreed and said they would try to restore full funding with an amendment.

"If we are successful, then hopefully the Shoshone Business Council will want to participate again," Case said.

Lee

Allen went on to say he believes Lee will be "an asset" to the governor and to the program.

Lee, who says his new job has been going "very well" so far, said he respects both tribal councils' stances on the liaison positions.

"We hope for a working relationship with the state moving forward," Lee said.

Lee is the executive director of the Wind River Development Fund in Fort Washakie, a nonprofit organization that provides local entrepreneurs and businesses with loans, technical assistance, training and other support. He's a member of the Fremont Air Service Team and Mead's Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming executive council and is treasurer for Leadership Fremont County.

Northern Arapaho Business Council chair Roy Brown told The Ranger last year that it was unfortunate that the position had been cut to part-time, but he also looked forward to developing the tribe's relationship with the governor's office and state agencies.

"The NABC thought there was real value in a full-time tribal liaison position," he said in June. "We think it goes a long way in developing and maintaining the tribal-state relationship in a positive manner."

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