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CWC hosts two speaker series to build bridges between Teton County and Fremont County communities

A group of twenty or so dancers stand in traditional Native regalia in front of tall glass windows.
Central Wyoming College
Powwow dancers stand in traditional regalia at the opening night of the Teton Powwow in Jackson in 2022.

Central Wyoming College (CWC) is bringing two educational series to the Tetons this spring in an effort to build stronger ties between Jackson and the Lander, Riverton, and Wind River Reservation area. The two series are called Teton Talks and Tribal Talks.

Dr. Kathy Wells, Academic Vice President at CWC, said the two series help share the work and expertise of the school’s faculty and students with those in the Teton County area. The Tribal Talks programming shines a special spotlight on Native community members, which is especially important given that CWC serves the largest percentage of Native community college students in the state.

“Any way we can help support initiatives that are important to our tribal community members, the college loves engaging with those,” she said.

One upcoming talk at the Center for the Arts in Jackson in March will focus on protecting Native languages and preserving culture. The presentation will share a clip from the Disney film “Bambi” in Northern Arapaho and will also include a conversation between Marlin Spoonhunter (Northern Arapaho), Raphael Young Chief (Northern Arapaho) and Lynette St. Clair (Eastern Shoshone).

Two other Tribal Talks in early May include a presentation on tribal sovereignty and an art show featuring the work of an Eastern Shoshone CWC graduate Talissa Abeyta and Northern Arapaho artist Al Hubbard, a recipient of the Wyoming Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship. The fourth annual Teton Powwow will also take place in the middle of May.

Wells said CWC runs similar community-based presentations on their main campus on Riverton, with a particular emphasis on “hot-button topics” in the tribal communities.

While the Tribal Talks series has been going on in different iterations for the last few years, the Teton Talks series is new this year. Dr. Wells said the latest series came together at the request of Jackson community members who wanted to learn more about the area’s different cultures, arts, and histories.

“Individuals wanted to know more and they knew that through CWC, we had faculty expertise and tribal representative expertise to bring folks together to have these conversations,” she said.

Wells said she hopes both series will help attendees better understand and celebrate the differences of the many unique communities in the region.

“We not only want to assist in transforming the lives of our students, but we want to build stronger and more resilient communities,” she said. “Reaching those who aren't connected with CWC by being enrolled in a class is part of our mission and this is a way that we can help expand the knowledge and build stronger connections across community members.”

Presentations in the Teton Talk series will cover topics like how to incorporate field-based learning into the classroom and professional development for Latin-x youth. All talks take place every few weeks and are open to all.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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