By Katie Roenigk
Via Wyoming News Exchange
RIVERTON — The Eastern Shoshone Business Council has nominated a liaison to Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon's office: Lee D. Tendore.
The nomination is required under Wyoming statute. Last year, however, the tribe withdrew its nominations after the Wyoming Legislature cut funding for the job in half, allocating only $160,000 to the line item for the biennium: $40,000 per year for a liaison from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and $40,000 per year for a liaison from the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
In a January 2018 letter to then-Gov. Matt Mead, SBC chairman Clint Wagon said the withdrawal was "centered on the concern with the timeline and the practicality of a hire to be successful."
Wagon said it wasn't a good time for a new liaison to start work because annual reports would be due soon to the Joint Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Tribal Relations and the new liaison would need to acquire a "vast amount of information and accompanying history on all the past and current issues that exist between the tribe and state" in a short amount of time.
"That is in addition to the overall issue on the stability of the program for the future," Wagon wrote.
Mead's policy adviser Colin McKee said the tribe was "concerned with the low level of funding, the part-time nature of the position, and the high expectations combined with the current funding running out in June."
This year the Wyoming Legislature allocated $280,000 to pay for two full-time tribal liaisons to the governor's office for two years.
The final budget bill indicates that $120,000 of the appropriation "shall not be included" in the governor's standard budget request for 2021-2022, and any unexpended, unobligated funds remaining from the appropriation will revert back to the general fund on June 30, 2020.
In a statement Wednesday, the SBC said it had reviewed six letters of from interested individuals before selecting Tendore for the liaison position, which is intended to "aid, assist and advise the governor on state-tribal relations including the coordination of programs and other activities between the state and tribal governments."
"SBC members firmly believed Mr. Tendore fit the description of someone who was willing to create a stronger relationship between the tribe and state," the press release states.
Tendore is described as an enrolled EST member who earned an associate's degree in American Indian studies from Central Wyoming College and undertook Native American and indigenous studies while earning his bachelor's degree at the University of Wyoming, where he was president for the Native American student group Keepers of the Fire and a mentee and peer mentor for the Multicultural Student Leadership Initiative for two years.
He has worked for the EST and also served in the United States Marine Corps, according to the press release.
"Pending final approval from Gov. Gordon, we look forward to working cooperatively with Mr. Tendore and the state of Wyoming," the statement reads.
Cy Lee was appointed to be the Northern Arapaho tribal liaison Nov. 1, 2017.