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Veterans park plans move forward

Jun 9, 2013 - By Andrea Novotny, Staff Writer

Leonard Moss Sr. began the dedication ceremony for the Northern Arapaho Veterans Park with a prayer and blessing May 29 at the park's future location south of the Wind River Hotel and Casino in Riverton.

The Eagle Drum Group continued the dedication with traditional drumming before attendees moved indoors to discuss the future of the project and meet the artist who will create a bronze sculpture for the site.

During the planning meeting, the Northern Arapaho veterans group presented preliminary ideas for the veterans park and services the group would provide for veterans.

William C'Hair spoke about the numerous veterans in his family -- many of whom were killed in battle -- and called the project "long overdue and very needed." He said the project has been a dream for at least 20 years, but previous attempts have always failed.

Lander artist Margery Torrey, who was present at the event for questions and suggestions, will create a bronze monument for the park that will represent the Northern Arapaho warrior.

Current plans for the veterans park include a large, open outdoor area and an indoor facility that is intended to serve as a place where traditional Arapaho ceremonies and Memorial Day and Veteran's Day functions can be held. The group hopes to include arbor and water features on the north side of the facility to signify serenity and create a healing and cleansing environment.

The group also plans to construct a wall, modeled after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., with the names of veterans of the Northern Arapaho tribe.

Sandy Whitehair, senior planner for the Northern Arapaho Engineering Department, said planning is still in progress, and the group will continue to meet to further plans for the park and decide what resources the group will provide to veterans.

To determine what resources are necessary, the veterans group will conduct a needs assessment, based partly on a needs assessment conducted by the state veterans administration, and also take into account the specific needs of Northern Arapaho veterans.

"What we're hearing from the older enlisted members of the tribe is that they want to continue traditional spiritual healing practices," Whitehair said.

Currently a veteran's sweat is held every Wednesday as a part of Planting Seeds of Hope, a five-year program aimed at suicide prevention on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Whitehair said the veterans group hopes to provide similar services.

Those at the meeting cast votes to determine the name and logo of the veterans group. The winning logo was a drawing by Dennis Bearing. A permanent group name was not chosen.

Veterans honored at the meeting and presented with a plaque included Alberta Goggles, Robert Waren and Sgt. Crawford White Sr. of the U.S. Army; Mark SoldierWolf and Charlie Manderson of the U.S. Marines; and Wayne T. C'Hair of the Air Calvary.

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