Indian Education Bill Amended To Be More Inclusive

Mar 3, 2017

Shoshone Language and Culture teacher Lynette St. Clair and her students study Chief Washakie on laptops.
Credit Melodie Edwards

The State Legislature, Thursday, was still in the process of passing a bill intended to better help social studies teachers in Wyoming include the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone in their curriculum.

The bill passed the Senate, but with amended language that caused concern for Lander Representative Jim Allen who sponsored the bill.

Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns, whose district neighbors the Crow and Cheyenne reservations, pushed the Senate to strike Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone, and replace it with “tribes of the region.” 

Jason Baldes of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center said it was important to start with the tribes in Wyoming, and then move to be inclusive of all tribes. 

“I think there should be Native American education nationwide not just in the few states we have it now,” said Baldes. “To be inclusive of all native people would be the right thing to do. But let’s do that down the road. First, we have to start with Shoshone and Arapaho people.”

By not approving the bill, the House of Representatives triggered a conference committee. Baldes said that would give Representative Allen and Senator Burns, an opportunity to reach a compromise on the language. 

“Which is what we wanted because we are working closely with Allen and Burns to make sure that we had language in there that said the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes, but that was also inclusive of the tribes of the region.” Baldes said this way “people in Sheridan, where they have a large population of Crow and Cheyenne, are also able to learn about their histories. And their histories are just as important as the Shoshone and Arapaho.”

 

Baldes said he anticipated that once these changes are made the bill will be approved and sent to the governor for his consideration.