UW Extension Billboards Promote Health and Fitness on Wind River Indian Reservation | News
March 13, 2020
A billboard featuring Wind River Indian Reservation resident John Pingree in full traditional dance attire helps send a culture-specific message about the importance of health and physical activity to residents of the reserve. (Photo UW)
Two billboards featuring a Native American in full 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 billboards, a project of the Hundred$ible Nutrition Program (CNP) at the University of Wyoming Extension, were installed in January and are expected to be removed this month, says extension educator Kelly Pingree on the Wind River Indian Reservation. CNP is a free income, 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 that’s pretty much any reservation,” she says. “Since we were colonized over 180 years ago, our lives have become more sedentary. There really isn’t much traveling or working, hunting and gathering like before.
Pingree started with CNP, a program at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in 2016. Billie Spoonhunter recently joined her at the CNP office on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
“The ability to engage with local partners for community change, in addition to direct education, has opened up ways to increase health impacts on the Wind River Indian Reservation,” says Mindy Meuli, Director of the CNP. “Because of their ties to the community, Kelly and Billie have been a great asset to CNP.”
Pingree says she saw the health of residents of the Wind River Indian Reservation in a new light when she joined CNP.
“It really opened my eyes to the extent of the problem we have on the reservation,” she says. “I think a lot of Indian communities have really woke up about this. We are talking seriously 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 for Native Americans in Fremont County is about 55 years, according to information from Wyoming Vital Statistics in the “Heart of Wyoming is Indian Country: Home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes Rich with Beauty, Spirituality, Families and Tradition” published in 2016. This compares to approximately 69 years in the general county population and 71 years in the general Wyoming population.
The idea for the billboard began two years ago when, as a CNP member, Pingree joined a booking group concerned with health and fitness. There were a few display boards on the reservation showing native culture and customs.
“I came up with the idea of using billboards to present CNP in this way, making something cultural available to people,” she says. “As our people are more physical and visual, I thought it was a really good way to show 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 began work on the design.
“Indigenous people identify with anything about Indigenous people,” says Pingree. “We had to have some sort of cultural or physical activity there that they could relate to.”
Pingree thought of the photo of her husband, taken by photographer Mike Jackson of Best of the Tetons in Jackson Hole. The photograph had been taken near their home and published in Cowboys and Indians magazine.
“When Kelly showed me the picture, I thought, ‘This is perfect,'” McCrackin Goodenough says. “I love that the photo was taken on the Wind River Indian Reservation and depicts someone a lot of people know.”
The message and billboard design were shown to CNP attendees before the billboards went up. McCrackin Goodenough says the feedback has been positive and CNP is moving forward.
“Any native person will understand this message – traditional dance and movement in our cultural way,” Pingree said. “The dance badges are one of the most powerful symbols of her Aboriginal identity. In this respect, it can be considered sacred.
Many outfits can be generations old and family-designed.
Pingree says she thinks the response from the community has been good and the CNP logo and message are gaining more recognition.
“I had people who came and recognized John, and then people who didn’t,” she says. “And they see the CNP symbol up there. Much of the community has noticed that we try to be healthy and physically. It is also a United States-wide initiative. We started working to be healthier.