In history, there is always more than one side to a story. In fact, it is the multiple stories of different groups and people in society that make history so important and engaging. Although there are minority populations in nearly all of Wyoming’s communities, their histories were not always well-recorded or promoted, leaving much of Wyoming’s history to be told from a one-sided perspective. In recent years, Wyoming historians like Paul Stewart, Brie Blasi, and Tom Rea have worked to expand Wyoming’s knowledge of African-American history and the history of other under-documented communities. Their research is a great start, but there is still much work needed to document minority communities within Wyoming.
The Alliance for Historic Wyoming believes that diverse stories widen our historic perspectives and shared heritage. We will push to identify these narratives by expanding on the historic context of buildings, trails, landmarks, ranches, and mining communities. AHW works to include diversity within projects, but the Diversity Initiative formalizes the push for an inclusive narrative in the field of historic preservation. The Diversity Initiative will be a thematic project wherein we strive to investigate the stories of Wyoming residents in African American, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, German, Slavic, American Indian, women, LGBTQ, and other communities. The Diversity Initiative will highlight allow for the stories and history of diverse communities and expand the knowledge and perceptions of cultural landscapes in Wyoming.
The Alliance for Historic Wyoming views diversity in terms of people and places. Diversity is inclusive of race, creed, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical characteristics and abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. AHW’s Diversity Initiative encompasses Wyoming’s historic places, communities, and geographic areas representing the full range of the American cultural experience.
Work on what has become the Alliance for Historic Wyoming’s Diversity Initiative began in the spring of 2016 when Rine Kasckow was a student of Dr. Kerry Pimblott’s Black American West course at the University of Wyoming. The Alliance for Historic Wyoming partnered with Dr. Pimblott’s class to promote diversity in historic preservation in Wyoming, and Rine followed through with her and her classmates’ work to publish several stories on our website. Work from this project spurred an investigation by Trish Tobbe, an Applied Anthropology Master’s student at the University of Memphis. Her research investigated how AHW builds community around historic places, how Wyoming’s historic record is represented, and how AHW handles the representation of historic structures or locations affecting different groups and cultures, and how public perception shapes that work. Over the summer and fall of 2016, Rine built on her project and organized a tour of F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, formerly Fort D.A. Russell, documenting the experience of Buffalo Soldiers in Wyoming. Through Rine’s hard work, dedication, and passion, the Alliance for Historic Wyoming officially launched its Diversity Initiative in May of 2017.