Community Challenge: How to change Stereotypes on both sides of the river

The third of four community dialogue sessions dealing with racism issues was held Thursday night at Fort Washakie with a goal of determining where the community wants to be. The first two sessions dealt with the questions of "who are we" and "where are we." The dialogues were initiated after the shooting death of one Native American man and the wounding of a second by a Riverton Parks Department employee at the Center of Hope last summer and complaints of rampant racism in the county. [image: Inline image 1] (Pitchengine Communities) At the conclusion of the Thursday evening event, personal responsibilities, getting to know members of another community and promotion of interaction in the workforce were some general themes that emerged as potential ways to change stereotypes. Speakers noted that the Native American community in the county has a big economic impact with a monthly contribution to area businesses, estimated a some $5-million a month, but that contribution is not generally recognized. [image: Inline image 2] (Pitchengine Communities) The difficulty of getting to know people was cited as a barrier, with a solution of attending events both on and off of the reservation and participating with churches and other organizations on both sides of the Big Wind River. It was suggested that change would come with the younger generation. Participants included Martin Castro, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Sleeter C. Dover, the chairman of the Wyoming Advisory Commission to the national group. One member of the Northern Arapaho Business Council was in attendance, Ben Ridgley, along with Riverton Mayor Lars Baker, City Council member Lee Martinez, City Administrator Steven Weaver and Riverton Police Department Community Ombudsman Jane Juve. [image: Inline image 3] (Pitchengine Communities) Around 50 participants were divided into four separate groups at the Frank B. Wise Business Center. Discussion included how to keep people safe, how to make the county a better place and bring people together, the need to listen, uncovering resources for people, and that any progress won't come from politics, but from the grassroots. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 17th at Arapahoe. That session will deal with looking for solutions. *Feature Photo: One of the sessions at Thursday's Community Dialogue