Friday, October 14, 2016

Arapaho Ranch Safari

By: Jennifer Wellman

Mentor program offers exploratory study for summer youth

During late July, several organizations on the Wind River Reservation collaborated to provide an interdisciplinary field camp, the Arapaho Ranch Safari, for students aged 14-23. The setting was Arapaho Ranch, a rural, historic ranch on the Wind River Reservation, northwest of Thermopolis at the confluence of the Owl Creek Mountains, the Absaroka Range, and Hamilton Dome. 

During the program, youth improved the Arapaho
 Ranch by working on service projects.
Run by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, the ranch includes a cattle operation, historic homesteads, and vast tribal lands and water for creative and scientific study. 

The Northern Arapaho Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Summer Program employs reservation youth in various tribal departments and businesses. This summer, with a grant from the US Department of Labor, WIA formed a partnership to create the Ranch Safari with Wind River EPSCoR, Maker Space 307, Poetics of Peace, Wind River Native Advocacy Center, Arapaho Tribal Health and numerous other artists and local experts. 

The Ranch Safari was the first, multi-faceted 5 day field camp for WIA workers that offered an adventure in filmmaking, cultural awareness, scientific study, and creative environmental exploration. 

The group set base camp at the historic old mansion, built in the late 1800's, and the Ranch's yurt, established in 2012 by the Wyoming Conservation Corps. Water conservation was critical during the week as the house's plumbing was not functional; students were able to use other local showers and bathrooms and had to haul water for drinking and cooking. 

Each day consisted of chores and activities, including assisting with cooking and clean up. Meals included fresh salads, lean meats, and delicious snacks to guide students toward healthy options that were easy to make, with assistance from UW's Centsible Nutrition Program

Youth went on a horse culture ride with Alison
Sage from Arapaho Tribal Health.
Ranch Safari highlights included: 
  • Documentary film-making with Alan O'Hashi, a regional film producer, using iPad minis;
  • Poetry reading and writing with henry Real Bird (Crow Tribe), the 2009-2011 Montana poet laureate;
  • Field trips to cultural and environmental sites: a buffalo jump, tipi rings, historic petroglyphs at Legend Rock, Thermopolis hot springs, and Anchor Reservoir;
  • Service learning projects at the mansion and the ranch headquarters, clearing vegetation and debris from the grounds and updating paint on a roadside fence;
  • Horse culture ride with Alison Sage from Arapaho Tribal Health;
  • Buffalo wallow ecology discussion with Jason Baldes, an Eastern Shoshone scientist and buffalo expert.

Ranch Safari mentors were:

Clarinda Calling Thunder, WIA program director
Jason Baldes, Wind River Native Advocacy Center
Hetty Brown-Tabaha, WIA Program
Alfred Burson, Arapaho tribal guide
Susan Grinels, Maker Space 307
Lorre Hoffman, Wind River Development Fund
Clina Longtimesleeping, WIA Program
Barbara May, photographer
Alan O'Hashi, Wyoming Community Media
Kelli Pingree, UW Centsible Nutrition
Henry Real Bird, Crow Tribe
Alison Sage, Arapaho Tribal Health
Marvene Thunder, Sky People Higher Education
Manuela Twitchell, local artist and poet
Jennifer Wellman, Wind River EPSCoR

In addition to US Department of Labor funding for the ranch Safari, Wyoming EPSCoR supported the purchase of supplies, food, and teaching materials. Additional funds were provided by a Wyoming Arts Council grant to Wind River Development Fund, a local non-profit. 

For more information on this project or other collaborative science opportunities on the Wind River Reservation, contact Jennifer Wellman at 

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