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Mead opens WR Native American Conference

Aug 8, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

It's been nearly a decade since the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming started hosting its annual Wind River Native American Conference, and those who were part of the initiative feel the gatherings have resulted in progress.

"We see some tragic cases come from the reservation," Gov. Matt Mead said Tuesday during this year's conference's opening ceremony at the Best Western Inn at Lander.

Mead was Wyoming's U.S. Attorney when the first conference was held in 2003.

The governor told the 200-plus attendees that the meetings, which have been held nearly every year since, have resulted in people coming together to share resources with one another in making progress on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

He thanked current U.S. Attorney Christopher "Kip" Crofts for his efforts on the reservation.

"I can't think of another U.S. Attorney who knows more about Indian Country. ... He's a true asset to the reservation and its people," Mead said of Crofts.

Mead also recognized Shirley Martinez, the victim witness coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office, for her vision in initiating the conferences.

"Thank you for doing it," Mead said.

Tuesday's remarks kicked off the three-day conference, which this year is called, "Healing Generations ... Courage to Change."

The meetings are provided for local, state, federal, tribal service providers and law enforcement and are meant to enhance the effectiveness of attendees in their roles working with victims of crime. Topics include trauma and the effects of crime and victimization on the reservation, drunken driving deaths, prescription pill deaths, bullying, cyber-bullying, sexual safety in foster care, perpetrator profiles, violation against American Indian women, jurisdictional issues, native lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/two spirit community, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.

Eastern Shoshone Business Council chairman Mike Lajeunesse said this is the first conference he has attended. During his speech, Lajeunesse said the law enforcement initiative on the reservation has helped the communities. He said another issue he felt needed attention was bullying and domestic violence.

"I hope we can work together to get a handle on it," he told the audience.

Northern Arapahoe Business Council member Julian Hubbard attended the first conference in 2003 and, like Mead, believes "we've come a long ways."

"We've made progress over the years," he said.