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Know the West

20 years with the Arapaho

  Often photographs of Native Americans stereotype them as victims of poverty or "beads and feathers' powwow performers, says Lander, Wyo., photographer Sara Wiles. For that reason, she photographs Arapaho people in their everyday lives, both in moments of celebration and moments unadorned.

"If I wanted to pick out pictures that made Arapaho tribal members ... look like victims, I could do that," Wiles says. "But I chose not to do that because, number one, I don't think that it is a terrible life. There are a lot of really wonderful people and really strong families."

The Northern Arapahos were buffalo hunters who left a nomadic way of life in 1878, to settle with the Eastern Shoshone tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation, in what became the state of Wyoming.

Wiles has selected 100 black-and-white photographs for the traveling exhibit, "Ni½iihi½: In a Good Way, Photographs of the Wind River Arapaho 1976-1996." It can be seen through May 3 at the Campbell County Rockpile Museum in Gillette, Wyo.; May 30-July 26, at the Robert Peck Art Center, Central Wyoming College, Riverton, Wyo.; Aug. 22-Oct. 18, at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, Sheridan, Wyo.; May 1-June 27, 1999, at the Museum of the Mountain Man, Pinedale, Wyo.; July 24-Sept. 19, 1999, at the Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Oct. 1-Nov. 12, 1999, at the Community Visual Arts Association, Jackson, Wyo. For more information, contact the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 720 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414 .

*Debra Calling Thunder