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Libraries Build Communities: Fort Washakie Home To A Little Free Library

Amanda LeClair-Diaz

The Wind River Reservation spans 2.2 million acres. That means there are long distances between libraries and tribal members face significant hurdles getting access to reading materials.

That's why seven Fort Washakie School educators: Renee Crooked Arm, Lynette St.Clair, Michelle Oberly-Blackburn, Jennifer Platt, Fredde Reed, Iva LeClair, and Kailyn Washakie put their heads together with Wind River Reservation resident and Ph.D. student Amanda LeClair-Diaz to address this issue.

While attending graduate school, LeClair-Diaz was first introduced to the Little Free Library by a colleague. She learned about an educator from the Navajo Nation who had established a Little Free Library organization. On their website, the Little Free Library has a map where a person can search for similar libraries nearest them.

When she searched the area of the Wind River Reservation, she saw the nearest Little Free Libraries were located in Lander and Riverton. LeClair-Diaz asked her former co-workers at Fort Washakie School if they would be interested in establishing the first such library on the Reservation and with positive responses, the project moved forward.

An Impact Library application was submitted and approved for a Little Free Library to be built in front of the Shoshone Tribal Service Station in Fort Washakie.

No membership fees are required and readers are encouraged to take whatever materials they like and donate them afterwards.

"We have a range from babies to adult books. It’s for everybody” said Diaz.

The library will be accepting donations though it will be installed fully stocked.

The Little Free Library will be hosting a grand opening on July 23 at 11 a.m. at the library’s home location at #3 North Fork Road. COVID protocols will be followed.

For more information, follow the Wind River Little Free Library on Facebook and Instagram.

Signa McAdams is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and from the Wind River Indian Reservation.
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