Arapaho Tribe Ousts Two-Thirds Of Its Governance; Leaders Sworn In Thursday

The Northern Arapaho Tribe in its Nov. 17 general election replaced four of its six governing Business Council members with non-incumbents. All six leaders were sworn in Thursday.

Clair McFarland

December 02, 20222 min read

Northern Arapahoe swearing in 12 2 22

The Northern Arapaho Tribe has ousted two-thirds of its governing council.  

In the tribe’s Nov. 17 election, two of its incumbent Northern Arapaho Business Council members won reelection, while newcomers replaced the other four incumbents.  

Former Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter and member Kim Harjo were the only two incumbents who survived the election, with Spoonhunter tied as the second-highest vote-getter and Harjo with the fifth-most votes.   

Though Harjo placed last among winning vote tallies, she defeated Council Chairman Jordan Dresser, who was the top vote-getter in the 2020 election when he first won the seat.  

Lloyd Goggles, who was not an incumbent, was the top vote-getter this year, winning 592 votes – nearly 30 more than Spoonhunter’s 566.  

Chairman Chosen By Results

Council tradition holds that the top vote-getter will become chairman, though the Council has the option to vote for a different chairman.  

Tied for second with Spoonhunter was Karen A. Returns To War. In third and fourth places respectively were Keenan Groesbeck and Teresa His Chase. 

Incumbents Stephen Fast Horse and Jared White Bull, like Dresser, did not win their bids for reelection in the Nov. 17 general election. Another incumbent, Boniface Ridgely, narrowly missed out on a general election bid by falling short of votes in the tribe’s Oct. 20 primary election.  


A Wind River Tribal Court Judge swore the six victors into their duties Thursday in a gathering room of the Wind River Hotel and Casino, which the tribe owns. New and old council members swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the tribe’s laws.

The six-person Northern Arapaho Business Council oversees day-to-day operations for the tribe and its considerable federal grants and revenue streams, as well as state grants. 

Along with its executive-branch governance, the Council of the Northern Arapaho Tribe also has legislative powers, unlike the governing council for the neighboring Eastern Shoshone tribe.  

However, the Northern Arapaho General Council – any gathering of at least 150 voting-age tribal members – also has legislative authority as a direct democracy.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter