A First For Wyoming Women Complicated By Racism

Feb 28, 2018

Estelle Reel was the first woman elected to a statewide office in Wyoming.
Credit Wyoming State Historical Society

The Wyoming House passed a bill to create a day commemorating Estelle Reel. She was the first woman elected to a statewide office in 1894, as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

 

While the majority of lawmakers wanted to recognize Reel’s accomplishment, House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly said Reel’s discriminatory attitude toward Native Americans and women should make them think twice.

 

Connolly said she researched Reel and read multiple articles.

 

“And this one, from the Wyoming Historical Society, which would be a well written article with lots of citations to it,” Connolly said is what shifted her thinking about celebrating Estelle Reel.  “It included this history regarding her thoughts, feelings and actions regarding both the abilities of women and regarding American Indians.”

 

Connolly provided that article to her fellow representatives. Despite knowing of Reel’s racism, the House passed the bill 46 to 11 with 3 excused. It will now be discussed by the Senate.