March 13, 2020
A billboard featuring Wind River Indian Reservation resident John Pingree in traditional dance attire helps send a culture-specific message of the importance of health and physical activity to people. residents of the reserve. (Photo UW)
Two billboards featuring a Native American in traditional dance attire help send a culture-specific message of the importance of health and physical activity to residents of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The billboards, one just south of Riverton and the other near Lander, feature area resident John Pingree in a traditional dance with the message “Move Your Way Every Day”.
The notice boards, a project of the University of Wyoming Extension’s Cent $ ible Nutrition Program (CNP), were put up in January and are expected to be removed this month, said Kelly Pingree, an extension educator on the reserve. Wind River Indian. CNP is a free, income-earning cooking and nutrition education program in Wyoming that can help people cook and eat better for less money.
Pingree says the billboards are an effort to improve the overall health of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
“We have such a pandemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and it’s pretty much any stash,” she says. âSince we were colonized over 180 years ago, our lives have become more sedentary. There really isn’t a lot of traveling or working, hunting and gathering like we used to do. “
Pingree started with CNP, a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources program, in 2016. Billie Spoonhunter recently joined her in the CNP office on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
âThe ability to engage with local partners for community change, in addition to direct education, has opened ways to increase the health impacts of the Wind River Indian Reservation,â said Mindy Meuli, director of the CNP. âBecause of their connection to the community, Kelly and Billie have been a valuable asset to CNP. “
Pingree says she saw the health of residents of the Wind River Indian Reservation in a whole new light when she joined the CNP.
âIt really opened my eyes to the extent of the problem we have with the reservation,â she says. âI think a lot of Indian communities have really woken up about this. We are seriously talking about how we are going to change that. What are some of the ideas to change that, to start improving the health of our people? “
The average life expectancy of Native Americans in Fremont County is around 55 years, according to information from Wyoming Vital Statistics in the “Heart of Wyoming is Indian Country: Home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Rich with Beauty Tribes , Spirituality, Families and Tradition, âpublished in 2016. This compares to approximately 69 years in the general county population and 71 years in the general population of Wyoming.
The idea for the billboard began two years ago when, as a member of the CNP, Pingree joined a reservation group concerned with health and fitness. There were a few notice boards on the reserve showing native culture and ways.
âI brought up the idea of ââusing the billboards to present the CNP in this way, putting something cultural in people’s sight,â she says. âSince our employees are more physical and visual, I thought this was a great way to reveal who we are and what we do here. “
Meuli and marketing coordinator Kali McCrackin Goodenough agreed. McCrackin Goodenough, Meuli, and Pingree developed the message and started working on the design.
âThe natives relate to everything that concerns the natives,â Pingree says. “We had to have some kind of cultural or physical activity there that they can relate to.”
Pingree thought of the photo of her husband, taken by photographer Mike Jackson from Best of the Tetons in Jackson Hole. The photograph was taken near their home and featured in Cowboys and Indians magazine.
âWhen Kelly showed me the picture, I thought, ‘This is perfect,’â said McCrackin Goodenough. “I love that the photo was taken on the Wind River Indian Reservation and that it represents someone that many people know.”
The message and billboard design were presented to the CNP attendees before the billboards went up. McCrackin Goodenough said the comments were positive and CNP has moved ahead.
âAny native will understand this message – traditional dance and movement in our cultural way,â Pingree says. âDancewear is one of the most powerful symbols of her Aboriginal identity. In this regard, it can be considered sacred.
Many outfits can be generations old and family-friendly.
Pingree says she thinks the response from the community has been good and that the CNP’s logo and message are gaining more recognition.
âI’ve had people come over and recognize John, and then others who don’t,â she says. âAnd they see the CNP symbol up there. Much of the community has noticed that we are trying to be healthy and physical. It is also a United States-wide initiative. We started working to be healthier.