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Remembering John ``Depends on Him'' Smith

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

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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