Tribes raise money to represent Wyo. in inaugural

AP News
Posted: Jan 14, 2013 4:24 PM

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes are trying to raise money to send a group of drummers and dancers to Washington so Wyoming isn't without representation at next week's presidential inaugural parade.

Northern Arapaho tribal liaison Gary Collins said Monday that the Presidential Inaugural Committee contacted him just over a week ago to let him know that Wyoming would be the only state not represented at the parade to mark President Barack Obama's second swearing-in ceremony unless he was able organize a last-minute delegation.

Collins reached out to both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes and they've organized a group of at least 15 dancers and drummers from the Wind River Reservation, a Democratic stronghold in the strongly Republican state.

Collins said he has contacted business groups, the oil and gas industry and fundraisers in Jackson. No one has committed to donating some of the $35,000 needed, but nobody has turned him down either. An account has been set up at Atlantic City Federal Credit Union to accept donations.

"We're on pins and needles right now," he said.

Collins has been seeking Secret Service security clearances for the group's members in case they are able to make the trip. The group would need to drive to Denver on Thursday in order to fly to Washington on Friday. Collins said rooms in Washington during the inaugural festivities are averaging $450 a night.

Wind River drummers and dancers represented Wyoming at Obama's inaugural parade in 2009.

The Navajo Nation hopes to send a tribal band with members from Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to the Jan. 21 parade.

Tribe President Ben Shelly has asked more than 400 Navajo government offices to donate money. Band director Darwyn Jackson said Monday that the group is about $11,000 short of the nearly $104,000 it needs to send some 80 volunteer band members. He said he was confident sponsors would come through so that the band could make its first appearance in the inaugural parade since 1973.