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Updated mural showcases Northern Arapaho themes in Riverton

Robert Martinez.jpg
Robert Martinez
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Robert Martinez painting Northern Arapaho Chief Black Coal's portrait on a new mural in Riverton.

As cars and trucks speed by, a Northern Arapaho artist is using an airbrush to paint a new mural overlooking the town of Riverton.

Robert Martinez painted the original mural when he worked at Riverton High School as the Title IX Indian Education Coordinator 25 years ago. While the first piece was black and white, this one is vibrant with color and meaning.

“On the west side, there's a buffalo or in the Arapaho way we call it henéécee, symbolizing the earth. That's where we get our sustenance historically,” said Martinez.

He said the piece moves from the past to the present while moving from west to east.

“Moving towards the beginning of the day, to the future, is one of our historical chiefs of the Arapaho Black Coal. He was very instrumental during the beginning of the reservation period. And he was a very good advocate for education, and working together,” he said.

He said he chose a mountain man to depict the first settlers of the area as well as portraits of children overlooking the town.

The project is funded by the Wyoming Arts Council.

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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