Peace march attracts hundreds SaturdayAug 9, 2015 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
Saturday morning's community peace march in Riverton almost had the feel of events from a half-century ago. The cause was different, but the climate was similar as approximately 350 people from across Fremont County joined in the march from the Center of Hope alcohol detoxification center to the band shell in Riverton's City Park.
Lander, Hudson, Pavillion, Crowheart, Ethete, Fort Washakie, Arapahoe and Riverton were represented at the march.
The event originated at the suggestion of organizer Ron Howard of Riverton.
"I put the idea out on Facebook, and you people piled wood on the little spark to make this event what it was today," Howard said at the culmination of the event.
The recent shootings at Center of Hope that killed one man and critically injured another had the communities on and near the Wind River Indian Reservation on edge for the past several weeks.
Ron McElroy, vice-chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council thanked the crowd following the march.
"There are only a few that are really trying to cause everyone to distrust each other and not like each other," McElroy said, "I hope this group here works together to come to a better understanding."
Riverton Mayor Lars Baker before he delivered an emotional address.
"I've been distraught over the events of the last few weeks," Baker said. "I hope we can all think about this and be careful in the things that we say and the things that we do, that we can be kind and gentle with everyone in everything we do.
"That's certainly what the city government of Riverton is dedicated to and I think most of the people of Riverton are dedicated to also. This is a good thing. This shows me that there is a lot of hope in our community for the future."
Former Fremont County legislator and enrolled Northern Arapaho tribal member Patrick Goggles elicited a couple of historical references to the audience. "Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism said all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, but here you are, you're doing something," Goggles said. "Sitting Bull said let us put our minds together to see what we can do for our children."
Sergio Maldonado, diversity coordinator at Central Wyoming College and an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, called for everyone to come together as one.
"This is not about partisan politics, it is about being human beings first and foremost, " Maldonado said. "When I was traveling through Iowa I saw one of those homemade farmer signs. It simply stated 'peace is not the absence of war but the presence of love.' We have come together today to support our human-ness.
"When we think of peace let's not look at it as a noun but as a verb. You have to have peace in your heart.
"There are those, as myopic as they may be that espouse a racial philosophy but we can work to avoid that."
The formal ceremonies ended with a brief speech by executive director of the Wyoming Association of Churches Chesie Lee, who delivered a closing prayer and used the text from 1 John 4:18 as a summation of the day's activities.
"Fear not, be bold, build relationships, do justice," Lee said.
Plans are to make this an annual event.