Chesie's Journal: We Ask the Wrong Questions

Last Monday the Wyoming Legislature’s Select Committee on Tribal Relations met in Riverton. At these meetings is an opportunity for people to raise concerns for resolution. But we sometimes seek answers to what are the wrong questions. We ask public officials who have little or a biased understanding and lack the willingness or capacity to respond meaningfully to counter root causes, not just respond to the symptoms of larger problems.

Three issues brought to the committee on Monday by tribal leaders and responses included:

  • The lack of prosecution of sexual assault cases and the victims’ fear of the perpetrators which the BIA Chief of Police blamed on lack of cooperation by victims. A response suggested by Sen. Cale Case was the need for more police training on best practices.

  • The unanswered questions about the police killing in Riverton of Andy Antelope in 2019, which the committee chair, Rep. Lloyd Larsen, said to put the questions in writing and he would answer. (I am looking forward to his answers since the Riverton Peace Mission has been unsuccessful!)

  • The low rate of school attendance on the reservation and how to get compliance by parents, a question previously taken to the Governor’s office. This was referred back to the Governor’s office for a response.

While it is good that these committee meetings allow an opportunity to raise unresolved issues, I suggest for us to achieve relevant results, we reframe the questions. Here are some ideas I have in order to get better answers:


1. Why does the violence happen? How do we create a community safe from violence?

2. How do we assure transparency and accountability for police conduct?

3. What do Indigenous families want for their children for education? How can schools meet the educational needs for the children to thrive?


These questions require a deep dive into history about how current harms evolved, which many would rather avoid. But we are spinning our wheels needlessly to only address symptoms.


Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.


Chesie Lee

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I was asked what the Riverton Peace Mission is doing for Native American Heritage Month. My initial reaction was that for RPM, every month is Native American Heritage Month. But with November associat

Last week I wrote about how Indian Removal continues today in different forms. Today, I write about a Native American, age 52, being found dead on Tuesday lying under cardboard in a parking lot off Ma

I am in a book club studying The 1619 Project. This last week we read about The Indian Removal Act (signed into law by Andrew Jackson in 1830). As we often do, we discussed how injustice that happene