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Native Education Conference provides information for new social studies standards

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Wyoming Department of Education
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Native child in traditional regalia at Wind River powwow.

The annual Native American Education Conference is being held at Central Wyoming College in Riverton August 2nd through the 4th. The conference aims to educate Wyoming teachers on the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. The hope is this will better Wyoming’s understanding of the Wind River Reservation.

In 2018, new social studies standards were approved in the state that require a more Native focused curriculum. Wyoming Department of Education’s Rob Black is a social studies consultant. And he said some non-Native teachers need to know where to get resources for these new standards.

“They went into effect this past school year that has more of a focus on Native American history and culture within our state social studies standards,” he said.

Black said this year the conference includes programming about the Sand Creek Massacre of the 1864 where 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people were killed by the United States military.

“A lot of people don't know about that. In the 1860s a number of Arapaho and Cheyenne, peaceful natives, were massacred by the U.S. Army. So, it's history that is missing from a typical classroom,” he said.

Indian Education Specialist Sandra Su’Sana Ashley will be addressing the conference about the lack of contemporary Indigenous issues being taught in the classroom.

The conference started in 2010 at Wyoming Indian High School.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.