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CWC Indigenous students are heading to Mount Everest to conduct climate research

Rupert Taylor-Price

Central Wyoming College (CWC) and the Alpine Science Institute in Lander are sending Indigneous students to Mount Everest to do climate research.

Indigneous students Jada Antelope, Aidan Darissa Hereford, Red Thunder Spoonhunter, Antoine Day, and one non-Indigenous student Ryan Towne are going at the end of April. In 2019, new weather outposts were installed on the mountain that the students will utilize.

Jacki Klancher, a professor at CWC,assembled the group with funding from the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium and the University of Wyoming. She said this group of students brings a mature understanding of the implications of climate change.

“The students from Wind River are really, at least a few of them, are really attuned to the implications of the loss of the Dinwoody glacier, for instance, on water availability on the reservation, and what that means for the next generation of youth and the existing communities on Wind River Reservation,” she said.

She said that Khumbu Climbing Center in the Katmandu region is a local group supported by sponsors of the expedition and that local partnerships can be mutually beneficial.

“Putting something back in and not just making it your experience and worthwhile for you and your data, your experience, your grants, your reporting,” she said emphasizing the importance to not purely be extractive when doing research in other countries.

The expedition is also working with the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition and Full Circle Everest, the first team of Black climbers to attempt a summit of Mount Everest.

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.

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