Students at Riverton High School will soon be able to take courses in the Arapaho language.
Principal John Griffith said that students in Fremont County School District 25 have been requesting the option for years, but finding an instructor willing to teach the courses part-time was a challenge. Lorraine Goggles, a Riverton High School paraprofessional who is a proficient Arapaho speaker, will take on the job starting this fall.
"We hope to bring in elders, we hope to do a lot of culture building and a lot of culture teaching," Griffith said. "We're really fortunate to live in a place with lots of diversity. Not many people in Wyoming can say that."
Riverton High School's student body is about 18 percent Native American, with most of those students being citizens of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
Celeste Spoonhunter, a cultural resource specialist for Fremont County School District 25, said the new offering will give students an opportunity to learn about each other.
"All students knowing their identity, knowing where they come from, and sharing it with their peers -- it gives them that much more motivation and self-esteem," Spoonhunter said. "It will help bridge that gap we have between Native and non-Native people."
Students in Arapaho Language I will learn the basic sounds of the language and its alphabet. Arapaho Language II will teach students enough words, phrases, and grammar to form sentences and tell short stories. Both courses will satisfy language requirements for graduation and for the Wyoming Department of Education's Hathaway Scholarship.