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Heritage Week on reservation highlights Arapaho linguist who passed from Covid-19

Students during heritage week in school district #38 making traditional cradle boards and baby dolls to match.
Paige Bowstring

The Northern Arapaho Language and Cultural Center has declared a new holiday to honor one of the reservation linguists who passed away last year because of Covid-19.

May 10 is the anniversary of the death of linguist Zdenek Salzmann. Salzmann came to the reservation in 1949 and helped develop a bi-lingual education program for school children. His work on the Arapaho language is still being taught in classrooms today.

“The result was the development of our Arapaho dictionary. That item is utilized in our schools, assisting our language instructors, and also is part of what is made available to the community,” said Northern Arapaho and Arapaho school board member Pat Moss.

This week is Heritage Week at Arapaho schools where students learn more about their culture and language. This year there will be a reception to honor Salzmann and his work preserving the Arapaho language. Heritage Week usually comes at the end of the school year on the reservation.

Moss said that Heritage Week holds multiple events throughout the week where students can learn more about language, art work, and history.

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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