“I happen to be one who cheers and supports the Sagebrush Rebellion. Count me in as a rebel.” ~ Ronald Reagan
Imagine one day waking up to find your home in your quaint American town is no longer yours and the town is no longer in the United States because the EPA has declared it so, despite a more than 100-year old law.
In an act of utter lawlessness, the EPA seized the entire town of Riverton, Wyoming (pop. 10,990) and two other towns, Kinnear (pop.219) and Pavillion (pop. 236) from their combined 11,000 inhabitants and turned them over to the Wind River reservation. It started over air quality control.
The EPA is doing this at the same time, they are stealing land and water rights from cowboys and ranchers who have held their deeds since the Louisiana Purchase.
This shifts jurisdiction for inspections, policing, taxing and other services as well as land rights to Indian tribes.
Riverton, Wyoming is now part of the Wind River Indian Reservation according to a government agency in what is an extraordinary breach of authority. It was not decided by courts, by the state or by Congress but rather by Barack Obama and his unelected, bureaucrats in the EPA in 2013.
The residents of Riverton are no longer living in the United States and will likely have their land taken from them by the Indians since the Indians now control the deeds. The residents of Riverton will lose many of their rights as citizens if they stay on the newly-formed extension of the reservation. They can leave their land behind or fight.
Legislation passed in 1905 already decided these borders in agreement with the Native-Americans and, in what is an outrageous land grab, the EPA has decided it is above the law.
“Once again the Obama administration thinks it can ignore the law of the land when it suits their agenda,” said Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso in a statement to Newsmax in January, 2014.
“Changes to the reservation boundaries were legally made in the early 1900s. These boundaries should be followed by all parties including the EPA and other agencies within the administration.”
In 1905, Congress acted to reduce the size of the Wind River Reservation by opening it up to homesteading by non-Indians, a decision affirmed in subsequent court rulings, and determined that the towns where the homesteaders settled were not part of the reservation.
The real controversy began in December 2008 when the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes submitted a request for federal funds to monitor air quality on its land, using a Clean Air Act provision that permits Native American tribes to file applications as states and to delineate tribal boundaries in order to receive higher levels of funding.
The EPA approved the application and granted “state status” to the two tribes for the purpose of monitoring air quality overturning congressional actions in 2013 but the EPA is not a lawmaker and has no authority over Congress and the courts, at least not before Obama.
The EPA’s decision, however, did not just give the tribes authority to enforce the Clean Air Act on the Wind River Indian Reservation. It also declared 1.48 million acres in west-central Wyoming, including the town of Riverton, as part of that reservation, that is, “Indian country.”
Wyoming’s congressional delegation also weighed in with a letter to the EPA, criticizing the decision for overturning “a law that has been governing land and relationships for more than 100 years.”
Wyoming Republican Gov. Matt Mead wrote a letter to EPA at the time reasserting the state’s opposition to the application, arguing that if it was approved it would have “implications for criminal law, civil law, water law, and taxation, and would also take away the voices of the citizens in Kinnear, Riverton, and Pavillion,” the towns impacted by the EPA’s action.
He said, “My deep concern is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state’s boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law. This should be a concern to all citizens because, if the EPA can unilaterally take land away from a state, where will it stop?”
He also notified the Attorney General to file suit. Wyoming’s delegation to Congress sent a letter to the EPA demanding the decision be reversed.
Sen. Leland Christensen responded in a public statement:
“This is an alarming action when you have a federal agency step in and start to undo congressional acts that has [sic] really been our history for 108 years … with the stroke of a pen without talking to the biggest groups impacted, and that would be the city of Riverton and the state of Wyoming.”
The EPA refused to comment on their decision.
A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit court heard oral arguments last November.
The Citizens Equal Rights Alliance has been enjoined to focus on over-reaching by the federal government. Mountain States Legal is representing the Farm Bureau fighting the case.
Wyoming State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton questions the EPA’s motives.
“You could almost say there’s some kind of agenda that’s anti-West, anti-Wyoming, anti-fossil fuels, obviously,” he said.
So far a standard medical malpractice case has been forced before an Indian tribunal because of this.
The tribal court has few rules and statutes and no published case law, rendering everything from basic procedural matters to substantive law to legal exposure unascertainable. Worse, because the tribal court impermissibly interprets its jurisdiction very broadly and imposes strict and onerous tribal exhaustion requirements, the hospital will have to litigate the medical malpractice case on the merits, and appeal to the tribal appellate court.
A Native-American murderer might be freed because of it. If the decision withstands the legal challenge from the state and local governments, Indians on the disputed lands would not be subject to state taxation or state criminal prosecution.
Riverton continues its expensive, exhausting and divisive battle to extricate itself from the American Indian tribal court.
If we lose the Supreme Court to the left [Obama will recommend four of his donors for the position], how do you think this case will go?