Videos Facilitate Teaching Wyoming's Native American History

Oct 31, 2016

The white board in Lynette St Clair's Shoshone language and culture classroom.
Credit Melodie Edwards

Wyoming educators will have access to a new curriculum focused on conveying an accurate history of the state’s two tribes. 

Wyoming PBS collaborated with Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal leaders to create videos showing native elders and educators discussing the history, culture and government of each tribe. Each of the six videos comes with follow-up lesson plans aligning with Wyoming state standards. 

Lynette St. Clair teaches Shoshone language and culture at Wyoming Indian Middle School and developed materials about the ancient Shoshone connection to the Wind River Mountain Range.

“We as human beings have to honor the earth and treat it well,” St. Clair said. “So there’s some ecological things and environmental things that go into the lesson plans. And so we’re tying in science, technology, so STEM standards.”

St. Clair says many non-native students in the state lack knowledge about Wyoming’s two tribes and that can lead to stereotyping when students interact at sporting events and elsewhere. She thinks an accurate curriculum could help that. 

“There’s something wrong here with a school system that doesn’t teach the true history of North America and about the inhabitants of Wyoming. I mean, we’ve been here forever but I don’t see anything in the history books about that.”

St. Clair says many non-native students in Wyoming lack knowledge about the state’s tribes because textbooks inaccurately portray American Indian history or skip it altogether.