Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon mentioned several pieces of legislation related to “Native American matters” during his Tuesday press conference recapping the 2023 legislative session, which adjourned March 3.
First, he said he was “very excited” about House Bill 18 – the new law that incorporates adults into Wyoming’s missing persons alert system – which he signed Feb. 21.
“Sponsored by the Select Committee on Tribal Relations, the bill aids in the administrative establishment of a new Ashanti Alert,” the governor’s office said in a press release that day. “The alert will function similarly to an Amber alert, sending out rapid notifications to cell phones and other media regarding missing adults. Local law enforcement can request these alerts, which will be initiated statewide by the Wyoming Highway Patrol upon meeting specific alert criteria.
“The legislation came from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force the Governor established.”
During Tuesday’s press conference, Gordon said he is “also excited” about Senate File 94, which codifies the federal Indian Child Welfare Act into state law and is now “ready for me to review and sign.”
He has already signed House Bill 19, which creates an ICWA task force to study the federal law and develop recommendations to further “incorporate the protections and procedures of (ICWA) into state law,” according to the legislation.
Finally, Gordan said he was “disappointed” House Bill 83 failed to pass the Senate on third reading last month.
The proposal would have let him negotiate off-reservation hunting agreements with Tribes, and it “failed largely because of misinformation,” Gordon said.
“Never was anybody expecting to see Tribal nations, which are sovereign nations, kowtow to Wyoming,” he said. “It wasn’t about that. It was about (the) state and a nation working out an agreement commonly, as citizens of the State of Wyoming, to understand what the dimensions of hunting could be. … It was not compelling one party or the other to enter into an agreement.”
He added that the process that led to the creation of HB 83 was “not dissimilar from many other things that we do” in partnership with Tribal nations in Wyoming.
“We work together on family issues (and) on the development of energy, and I’ll point to the fact that the Arapaho Nation was very supportive of Wyoming as we looked at confirmation of the Secretary of Interior, for example,” Gordon said. “So we have a long history where we work together, and we respect each other, and we’ll continue to do that going forward.”