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Native American Summer Institute Grows In Second Year

The second Native American Summer Institute wrapped up last month and grew from 28 students last year to 38 this year. Participants were high school Native American students with an interest in coming to the University of Wyoming. Most students were from the Wind River Reservation, but also from as far as Billings, Montana. The students participated in workshops over the week that included student-driven talks about being Native American.

The Literacy Center through the College of Education hosted a workshop about storytelling, since storytelling is an important part of Native culture.

Dr. Angela Jaime, Director of American Indian Studies, did a two-hour workshop about film.

“I showed them the movie Real Injuns,” Jaime said, “which is about the stereotypes and generalizations of Native people in Hollywood over the course of time, then we had a discussion about it.”

The Native American Summer Institute hosted another workshop that featured an app for the iPhone that helps teach the Arapahoe language. Since the University of Wyoming is built where an Arapahoe village once stood, students can walk around campus and see the Arapahoe words for different plants and landmarks. Think Pokemon Go, but with language.

Jaime helped get funding for the app’s development.

“You get to a spot and then you read about that particular landmark or that plant that is there, and what it means to the Arapahoe people, and move on to the next land marker. You end with the grandmother telling you a story, and she’s one of the guides on the app,” said Jaime.

The app was developed by Phineas Kelly who has worked with the Native language in Hawaii. He said he wanted to demo the app with the students at UW’s summer institute.

One goal of the summer institute is to create a home base for Native American students. Less than one percent of UW’s total student enrollment identify solely as American Indian. Jaime said the Institute helps Native American enrollment to grow.

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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