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Northern Arapaho receives $4.75 million to improve recreation opportunities on reservation
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Northern Arapaho receives $4.75 million to improve recreation opportunities on reservation

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Better recreation options will be coming to the Wind River Reservation thanks to a multi-million dollar donation announced earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the Northern Arapaho Tribe said it had received $4.75 million from a donor who asked the tribe to not name them. The tribe says the money will be used to help erase a lack of safe and modern recreational activities for those living on the reservation — especially young people.

“This is great news for members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes,” Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter said. “These dollars will make a big difference in the health and quality of life for tribal members by improving access to parks, trails and recreational opportunities of all kinds.”

There aren’t yet any plans for how the money will be used to improve recreational opportunities.

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The nonprofit Community Foundation of Jackson Hole will manage the fund, which was created as an endowment, with a three-member panel helping determine how to spend the money and overseeing the grant distribution to ensure the money is spent responsibly.

The panel will consist of at least three appointed members — at least one selection each from the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils and one from the foundation.

If managed properly, the endowment could last for years — decades even — to improve recreation opportunities on Wind River, said Karen Coleman, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the foundation. She said the nonprofit was selected to help support the tribes because of its expertise in grant-making and managing finances.

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“We are honored to have been selected as a partner in this endeavor,” she said.

“We felt that this partnership plays to our strengths, and will really help a neighbor address a need.”

The money also comes about a month after the Northern Arapaho held a dedication ceremony for a new child care center near its Wind River Hotel and Casino. The tribe says the new facility will offer safe and educational care for children and improve the lives of them and their families.

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Chris Aadland covers the Wind River Reservation and tribal affairs for the Star-Tribune as a Report for America corps member. A Minnesota native, he spent the last two years reporting for the Wisconsin State Journal before moving to Wyoming in June 2019.

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