Remembering John ``Depends on Him'' Smith
Senator John Barrasso
Congresional Record: 115th Congress
4 January 2017
Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, today I wish to honor and remember my good friend John Smith. On Saturday, December 31, 2016, we lost one of Wyoming's best leaders and diplomats on the Wind River Reservation. John Smith was a member of the Northern Arapaho tribe. For 27 years, he served as the director of the department of transportation for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation. Mr. Smith played a major role passing transportation legislation that will save and improve lives on the Wind River Reservation and across tribal communities. John was a wonderful friend and a wonderful man. I admired him greatly for his big heart, his warmth, and his larger than life personality. John cared deeply about the lives of people who lived and traveled through the Wind River Reservation. John's commitment to improving his community's roads can be seen today all over the Wind River Reservation. He was a hard worker, innovative and creative. He was always doing more with less. His jokes and sense of humor always made that hard work a little easier. Indian country did not have a better advocate or finer person to represent them in Washington, DC. Since John's work ethic and personality were so big, he naturally lived up to his nickname ``Big John'' in every respect. As a former football and basketball player, you could see Big John coming from blocks away. In 2014, John was in Washington, DC, to receive the White House Champions of Change award from the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx. Big John was being recognized for bringing tribal, State, and local leaders together to complete construction of the notorious 17 Mile Road. When he received the award, Big John took off his cowboy hat and placed it on the head of Secretary Foxx. The unforgettable smile on Big John lit up the room with laughter. This special man left a lasting impression on all those who had the privilege of working with him. Last April, John testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He talked about dangerous roads that were costing lives in tribal communities. His testimony led to important legislation being passed to improve those roads. His efforts not only changed lives, it saved them, and we are all grateful. It has been an honor and privilege to work with Big John on highway bills. It has been a higher honor to be his friend. John leaves big boots to fill, and I am confident the Wind River community will fill those boots and continue his hard work. As we lift up our hearts and celebrate Big John's life, we also thank him for his selfless service on behalf of the people of Wyoming. Big John, thank you, and we will miss you.
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