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Fort Washakie School hosted its first-ever virtual Five Buffalo Days last week. A daily event or activity was planned to provide students the opportunity to still participate in a typically more hands-on event.

“Planning and scheduling the events starts early in the school year with all staff,” shared Indian Education Coordinator Lynette St. Clair. “However, like many other schools, we were unable to follow through with our original plans and had to adapt due to the Covid-19 restrictions. This year, participation by our students and staff was limited, but we were still able to compile a week of virtual events.”

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The weeks’ events included a variety of activities like participating in an art contest for the next school t-shirt design after taking a virtual field trip to the Shoshone Tribal Buffalo Herd with Jason and Patti Baldes. Students shared photos for “Rock your Moccs Day” and “Heritage Day.” They also sent in videos for a virtual powwow and the Five Buffalo Days Parade.

Below is a compilation of submissions for the week from students and their families.

Lynette St. Clair shared additional background about Five Buffalo Days:

The idea of having our own buffalo herd was always a vision of the people here on the Wind River Reservation. So when tribal educators at Fort Washakie School began developing lesson plans to incorporate traditional knowledge, Bison Ecology was one of the main objectives. The event started back in the early 2000s with cultural consultants and bison experts doing presentations. Lessons were developed to give students hands-on experience about each part of the buffalo and their uses.

Over the years, the event evolved into five days of students learning about the buffalo and the traditional practices of not only the Shoshone people, but other tribes in Indian country. The Five Buffalo Days events have included local and national presenters, tribal practices, buffalo box lessons, and harvesting a buffalo. We also partnered with our JOM program in activities, which included a carnival and powwow. Many students who attended early days of the celebration recall this week as being one of their best memories.

Today, we continue to provide engaging lessons for our students and community. We look forward to planning some excellent lessons and activities for May 2021!

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