POCATELLO —Elected officials from cities and counties surrounding the Fort Hall Indian Reservation met with officials from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes for the first time in five months Friday to discuss moving forward.
The group includes the mayors of Pocatello and Chubbuck, county commissioners from Bingham, Bannock and Power counties and representatives from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
At the meeting, attorney Mark EchoHawk presented information on tribal sovereignty and outlined what sovereignty means legally. Bingham County Commissioner Ladd Carter said the presentation helped him understand certain concepts to gain a better understanding of sovereignty, which has been a major point of disagreement among the parties involved.
Laverne Beech, the Tribes' public affairs manager, said she felt there was a turning point during the meeting when the parties stopped focusing on their differences and began discussing specific ideas they can implement to improve the entire region.
She said the group, at the suggestion of facilitator Bryan Parker, will work on building trust and teamwork by focusing on a specific project all parties can work on to promote economic development within the region.
"We turned a corner in terms of identifying common interests," Carter said. "We are better off working together to create new jobs."
One area for potential future development discussed during the meeting was near the Pocatello Airport, but each party was asked to bring their own ideas to the next meeting.
The group agreed to meet more often, and the next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18.