(Riverton, Wyo.) – “It was a madhouse around the post office this morning,” Riverton Police Captain Eric Murphy said at mid morning Wednesday. “People were double parked all over the place.” Murphy said a postal employee confirmed that settlement checks for enrolled members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe had arrived, and there was a crowd of folks waiting to get to their post office boxes to get them.
Likewise, it was the same story at Wells Fargo Bank on North Federal where all three of the banks parking lots were filled to capacity as well as the nearby side streets and a steady stream of people were entering and exiting the facility.
On South Federal, Mark’s Car Sales had vehicles lined up from his lot all the way to the entrance of the Wind River Heritage Center with “sold” marked on them. They were on layaway, an employee there told County10.com on Tuesday afternoon, waiting for today’s checks.
At Gunner’s Automotive on North Federal, Jon Gunderson said he had lots of what he termed “preliminary shoppers” in the last two weeks. “They know what our inventory is, and this morning it started out slow, but that turned out to be the quiet before the storm,” he said. Gunners delivered two vehicles this morning to non-tribal members who had been eyeing a purchase earlier. “They decided to act before the inventory was gone,” he laughed. Gunderson said he had attempted to bring additional inventory to his lot from a sale in Salt Lake this past week, but the vehicle he had there to sell didn’t, and he came home empty handed. He did indicate that one family came in and bought a truck this morning, with cash and that there were quite a few folks dropping in to check out his offers.
Walmart Store Manager Brandon Mitchell said it was “busy as usual,” this morning as the parking lot there was full, as usual. He also chuckled a bit when he said “busy.”
Riverton Police were taking a different tact than in nearby Lander where a command center was set up and the police presence was very visible. “We have people out, but we’re taking a more low key approach,” said Chief Mike Broadhead. Law Enforcement agencies were concerned for the safety of those who could be vulnerable to predators after they cash their checks. The Tribe and local law enforcement agencies all suggested tribal members deposit their funds or open up accounts so as not to carry the cash with them.
The settlement total coming to the Wind River Indian Reservation, from mineral royalties, is in the neighborhood of $157 million.