Collaborating between two worlds

Wyola, Sheridan schools engage in cultural exchange
Thursday, November 8, 2018
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Photo by Christy Wright

Kristi Old Coyote talks about Crow culture during an exchange program in Sheridan, Wyoming on Monday, October 29. Sheridan Junior High plans to complete the exchange with a visit to Wyola later this month.

Collaborations between schools in the area are rare when it comes to anything besides sports. That being said, they are not unheard of, case in point being a “cultural exchange” between Wyola Public School and Sheridan Junior High School on Oct. 29. This recent event awarded an opportunity to both schools by having Wyola students travel to Sheridan first.

While there, five students participated in an in-school news report and showed off Native regalia. After the demonstration, they played Native games such as double ball and set up a teepee. “They know you’re there, but they don’t know who you are,” Wyola schoolteacher Larry Blacksmith said about the two cultures. “They want to be able to identify us with something not only from the past, what they’ve been taught, but in the things we do today.”

The program was made possible through Levi Yellowmule, a Wyola school staff member who began to coordinate the event with the Sheridan school. The purpose of the trip was primarily to expose the students to another culture, however, staff member Larry Blacksmith stated that the area is also important to the Crow Tribe for another reason – as it is the location were the sacred tobacco plant was found. The plant is of great significance to the tribe, and while the area was long ago tribal territory, it is now predominantly non-Native.

The Sheridan school is scheduled to be traveling to Wyola on Nov. 20 to do a similar event there. However, details on what the exchange will look like have been left up to the Sheridan school and what they would like to share. The staff and students of the Wyola school await the visitors not knowing what will come next.