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"Two Nations, One Reservation": Exhibits To Educate Wyoming Kids About Wind River Reservation

Wyoming Humanities Council

Last year, lawmakers passed legislation to bring more education about Native American history and culture to Wyoming students. It’s called Indian Education For All and it fulfills social studies requirements. To help with the effort, the Wyoming Humanities Council has created a fold-out kiosk that will be exhibited in schools and libraries around the state starting next month.

Humanities Council Director Shannon Smith said the exhibits are a tangible way to teach kids about the two tribes on the Wind River Reservation. The five-foot-tall kiosks include photos and booklets, one for adults and one for kids. To create the exhibits, Smith said the Council reached out to tribal elders and community members, along with regional ethnohistorians. The process involved a lot of debate, but she said that means the exhibits will do something that’s rarely been seen in other scholarship about the Wind River tribes.

Credit Wyoming Humanities Council

“There’s great historical documentation about the Eastern Shoshone and there’s great historical documentation about the Northern Arapaho but less that focuses on that intersection and what brought both tribes to that region,” said Smith. “And we’re really proud to be part of at least opening up a new way to look at this history.”

Smith said with help from a design company in Cheyenne and wyohistory.org, they’ll be able to start putting up the exhibits in just a few weeks.

“So we anticipate they’ll be printed in this coming month and distributed to every school district and every library system. And quite a few school districts have asked for multiple copies and each copy we figure is worth about $1500 and we’re able to give this free of charge because we were able to raise funds.”

Smith said she was also honored to get requests from reservation teachers who say the kiosks are accurate enough to use to teach Native American children about their own culture and past.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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