The annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, or Equality Day in Wyoming, was noted in a chilly Riverton this morning with a larger than usual turnout for the Diversity walk and talks
participants came from Wyoming Indian and Pathfinder/Lander high schools
with Central Wyoming College and the community at large also being
Student speakers at City Hall included Jimmy StandingElk, Jaden Whiteplume,
Phillip Mathews, Jovan Willow and former student Sam Ironcloud, who helped
organize the first walk when the community was faced with the potential
relocation of a white supremacist church. The community backlash at that
time stopped the relocation. The walk and rally has been held every year
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*WIHS Traditional Club President Javon Willow said his voice would not be
silenced. (Pitchengine Communities) *
Riverton Mayor Lars Baker, Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison Sergio Maldonado
and WIHS teacher Michael Ridge Bear also spoke.
The speakers mostly followed the same theme. "Wherever people fight to be
free, Martin Luther King, Jr.s name is referenced," StandingElk said.
"Yesterday people were not treated well, but that was yesterday," sai
Whiteplume. "Today is the day everyone is equal and not treated by the
color of their skin but by their acts."
Mathew quoted Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce who called for everyone to be
as one, brothers and sisters together under one sky. Willow, president of
the WIHS Traditional Club, quoted King's words promoting "goodwill for all
men and the love of God working for all men." He said there are ignorant
people who still practice racial discrimination, but he said he "would not
stay silent and that he would raise his voice."
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*A Round Dance concluded the event. (Pitchengine Communities) *
Ridge Bear gave the assembled group advice. "How you carry yourself, that's
the label you will live with. There are some bad Indians out there," he
said, "but as you grow, think of that label, take care of each other, do
good and turn that label around."
Riverton Mayor Lars Baker welcomed the assemblage to town and encouraged
everyone "to love each other, to be kind and welcome others."
Ironcloud noted that Native Americans have shown their loyalty to the
United States through military service and he said he feels a "good future,
but it is up to you."
Maldonado repeated King's insistence on peaceful resistance. "The way we
carry ourselves in the future will be generational. I am appreciative of
the cities of Riverton and Lander for hosting the first two community
dialogues and I thank the mayor for being here.
Community member Larry Wallace of Riverton was carrying a "Justice for All"
sign. "Dr. King's holiday is worth remembering because of his message of
equal rights for all," he said. "We need to stay and work together and work
for justice for all, because that's in the Pledge of Allegiance."
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*Riverton resident Larry Wallace. (Pitchengine Communities) *
The walk from Riverton City Park to City Hall started promptly at 10 a.m.
and was headed by the Sand Creek Massacre Runner's Eagle Staff and the
Eagle Staff from Wyoming Indian High School. The colors were presented by
the American Legion Posts #81 and #86 from Fort Washakie and Ethete,
respectively, and the Military Science Class from Lander, with students
from Pathfinder High School also represented.
*Feature Photo: The MLK/Diversity Walk headed up North Federal Boulevard
with some 200 participants. The walk ended at City Hall where a rally was
held in chilly 20 degree weather. (Pitchengine Communities) *
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*The Military Science Class from Lander brought its color guard to the
event. (Pitchengine Communities) *