The legislation that established the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) asserts that “democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” For more than 50 years, Wyoming Humanities has been a partner in NEH’s pursuit to serve and strengthen our democracy through the humanities. Serving all 23 counties and 99 communities in the Equality State, Wyoming Humanities was one of the first six state-based humanities programs to be established with NEH funding, bringing locally tailored humanities programming to the state. In the decades since, Wyoming Humanities has grown into an expansive organization, investing in the state’s cultural economy, and fostering an environment where thoughtful dialogue and the exchange of ideas can flourish.
Through its initiatives, grants program, and media productions, Wyoming Humanities promotes critical thinking and lifelong learning, providing the tools and opportunities for citizens to connect not only with the humanities but also with one another. The council’s ongoing initiatives help expand the Wyoming narrative by bringing together the unique perspectives and histories of the state’s residents. Wyoming is the historic home to many Indigenous communities, including the Shoshone, Arapaho, Crow, and Lakota Nations, among others, and current home to Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes. In 2017, in response to the “Indian Education for All” Act, Wyoming Humanities began work on initiatives to grow public awareness of Indigenous history and culture in the state. Through collaboration with cultural and educational institutions, scholars, and representatives from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, Wyoming Humanities produced “Two Nations, One Reservation,” a pop-up exhibit telling the story of the Wind River Indian Reservation and the treaties, laws, events, and people that shaped it. In addition to the exhibition, the council recorded conversations on education and the environment on the reservation and produced a robust collection of classroom resources for educators in Wyoming and beyond.
Wyoming Humanities’s impact goes beyond its initiatives—the council has two grant programs, Wyoming Crossroads grants and Spark grants, that fund a diverse array of humanities projects in the state. In 2022, Wyoming Humanities awarded 17 Wyoming Crossroads Grants, totaling more than $218,000, to programs in 14 counties with a reach across the state, each bringing a humanities perspective to a locally relevant subject. Wyoming Crossroads projects explore the Wyoming identity, connection to the land, and how the state’s people navigate our ever-changing society. In addition to its annual grant programs, Wyoming Humanities played a key role in revitalizing the state’s cultural economy as it adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic through the American Rescue Plan. Using funding from NEH’s SHARP program, Wyoming Humanities distributed more than $500,000 in grants to 74 organizations in 2021.
NEH thanks the dedicated staff and board members, past and present, of Wyoming Humanities for their enduring partnership in strengthening our democracy and telling the story of their state. To learn more about Wyoming Humanities visit thinkwy.org.