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Published October 20, 2023
University of Wyoming Native American students will be recognized for their excellence and accomplishments in education during an awards ceremony and cultural event titled “Good Medicine” Friday, Nov. 3.
The free public programs will begin with the scholarship and awards ceremony from noon-1 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts, with a cultural presentation following from 1:15-2:30 p.m. Events will feature well-known guest speakers Jason Baldes, Gary Davis and Tatanka Means.
“We are welcoming you to be part of this eventful afternoon in recognizing and celebrating our Native American students for their excellence in education and leadership,” says James Trosper, special adviser to UW President Ed Seidel on Native American affairs. “In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, we invite you to learn more about our Native American culture rich in history and tradition.”
Trosper adds he hopes that the experience will help build bridges between cultures, create a better understanding and encourage positive relationships between communities.
UW’s Office of the President, Art Museum and College of Law; the Chief Washakie Foundation; Wyoming Humanities Council; Eastern Shoshone Education; and the Zedora Teton Enos Excellence Fund sponsor the Native American Scholarship and Awards Ceremony.
“UW is excited to welcome a distinguished lineup of participants for the Native American Scholarship and Awards Ceremony as well as the cultural event to follow,” Seidel says. “Knowledge of and exposure to different culture create understanding and build positive relationships. I hope many will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Native American cultures and their rich history and traditions.”
Several individuals also will be recognized through Distinguished Leadership Awards for demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities in four categories as administrators, faculty, students and community members. They will be recognized for their contributions to education, entrepreneurship, cultural and language preservation, and community development needs.
Davis will provide an opening motivational talk and will be the master of ceremonies for the awards and cultural presentation. Also known as Litefoot, he is a Native American business professional, actor and musician. He is executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association; CEO of Davis Strategy Group; and a member of the Forbes Finance Council.
As an actor, he is best known for his roles as Little Bear in the movie “The Indian in the Cupboard” and as Nightwolf in “Mortal Kombat.”
Means, son of prominent American Indian Movement member Russell Means, is an award-winning actor and stand-up comedian. Among his recent acting credits are parts in the highly anticipated Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon” that opened today (Oct. 20); “Wind River: The Next Chapter”; “The Son”; “Once Upon a River”; “The Liberator”; and the acclaimed television series “Reservation Dogs.”
A dedicated entrepreneur, Means was recognized with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Native American Business Leaders. Means' ambition has taken him from his home on the reservation to traveling across North America, acting in numerous television shows, documentaries and movies. He has become a much-needed role model for all Native American youth.
Baldes, of Fort Washakie, received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in land resources and environmental sciences from Montana State University, where he focused on tribal bison restoration. He is the Tribal Buffalo Program manager for the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Partnerships Program.
He is on the board of directors for the InterTribal Buffalo Council; a board of trustees member for the Conservation Lands Foundation; and on the environmental commission of the Congress of Nations and States. Baldes also is executive director of the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative, and he is an instructor at Central Wyoming College and Wind River Tribal College.
During his presentation at UW, Baldes will share clips of two Ken Burns documentaries -- “The American Buffalo” and “Homecoming” -- in which he recently appeared.
During the program, the Eagle Spirit Dancers and Singers will weave colorful dance demonstrations in between the guest speakers’ presentations. The Wind River Indian Reservation group will perform and explain the dances seen at most powwows.