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WIHS planning vigil to mark shooting at sister high school in Colorado

Dec 17, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Last week's fatal school shooting in Centennial, Colo., held special significance for students and staff at Wyoming Indian High School in Ethete.

For about two decades, Arapahoe High School -- where the shooting took place -- has been a "sister school" to Wyoming Indian.

"We go there and they come here," WIHS teacher Aleta Moss said. "It's been a long-standing thing. ... Every spring we take our junior class to Denver to visit and share."

The partnership recognizes the history of the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Colorado -- Moss said much of the tribe's ancestral land is located near AHS.

"Estes Park was our homeland," Moss said. "There are Arapaho names for all of the peaks, mountains and locations there."

When Fremont County kids visit Centennial, Colo., Moss said they bring tribal elders along to talk about the history of the Arapahos in the area. The Colorado school has embraced the cultural relationship, she added, pointing out that the AHS warrior mascot logo was designed by Northern Arapaho tribal member Wilbur Antelope.

"AHS has adopted the motto, 'Warriors take care of one another,' as a daily way of life within their community and school," Moss continued, writing in a message to local students and staff. "This saying was adopted from words shared by Anthony Sitting Eagle, a Northern Arapaho elder, when the school first reached out to (the) tribe and their sister schools on the Wind River Indian Reservation."

Vigil

Moss said she remembers seeing last week's alleged shooter during one trip to AHS in recent years.

"We did recognize the boy," she said. "We don't know if he was one of the guides. Three or four kids take small groups (to) tour the school."

Karl Pierson, 18, killed himself Friday after shooting 17-year-old student Claire Davis at AHS. Officials said Pierson was targeting school librarian Tracy Murphy, who exited the building after Pierson showed up with a pump-action shotgun, ammunition strapped to his chest, a machete and Molotov cocktails, according to published reports.

Davis happened to be sitting nearby with a friend when Pierson shot her. She was in critical condition, stable but in a coma, as of Sunday.

Moss and others at WIHS are planning a candlelight vigil Tuesday to honor the Arapahoe High School students involved in the shooting -- Davis in particular.

"We want to offer our thoughts, concern and support to our sister school, their students and staff," WIHS cultural mentor Sandi Iron Cloud wrote in an e-mail. "Everyone is invited to come join us."

The vigil will take place at about 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 636 Blue Sky Highway. Organizers said the group will gather outside by the WIHS flag pole.

The WIHS community also will purchase and send Pendleton blankets to the AHS counseling department to help comfort students there in the aftermath of the shooting.

"Native Americans share gifts during difficult times such as blankets or food to bring comfort to those that are suffering," Moss said. "As their sister school, WIHS is reaching out to help take care of (AHS) during this difficult time.

"We want to offer our thoughts, concern and support to our sister school in this way, and we are welcoming anyone in the community and reservation to come and participate."

For more information about the event, visit the Chiefs Nation Facebook page.

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Wyoming Indian, Chiefs