Week’s Highlights Give Me Hope

The Riverton Peace Mission was super engaged this past week. On Monday we met with Riverton city officials again challenging leaders to address racism. On Thursday we had an Early Voting Day through our Native American Voter Project. On Saturday we dug deep into learning our rights about voting, police encounters, rental housing in the bordertowns and for victims of sexual assault.

When we met with the Riverton Mayor, City Administrator and Chief of Police, we informed them how Riverton could obtain a treatment center with the tribes as proposed in the 2019 Masterplan. The mayor proposed that the city provide a van to pick up Native Americans daily to take them home to the reservation, as if Riverton is not their home. They are not yet willing to form a committee to address racism, as requested in our petition, but we will persist in asking them to address the deep-rooted institutional racism here. We plan to meet again soon.

On Thursday, I was part of a caravan of drivers going to Lander to the County Clerk’s Office for early voting. The Native early voters included a young couple with their baby and toddler, 10 high school students from Arapahoe Charter School and a freshman from Central Wyoming College. Afterwards we celebrated at the Lander library with a pizza party. The 11 students were voting for the first time and proud of it.

On Saturday, Antonio Serrano with the ACLU of Wyoming, Angie Dorsch with Equal Justice Wyoming and Sara Robinson with the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault educated us about our rights. A favorite part was the role plays to teach us how to be effective observers in police encounters. During lunch, I learned from an Eastern Shoshone elder history about Riverton that I had not known. She wisely said, “You can’t learn your rights unless you learn your history.” The last question of the day brought tears to my eyes. It was, “How can I get my voting rights restored.”

As in the lyrics of a song, “For every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.”

Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice.

Chesie Lee

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