RIVERTON, Wyo. — Wyoming will be represented at the presidential inaugural parade thanks to a last-minute effort by Wind River Indian Reservation residents.
A group of 13 dancers and others plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on Saturday even though organizers are still about $6,000 short of their scaled-down fundraising goal. Northern Arapaho tribal liaison Gary Collins said he's buying one-way tickets to stretch the money at the outset and hoping more comes in.
Originally, he wanted to raise $35,000 to send a bigger group. He said he only had two weeks to raise money after the Presidential Inaugural Committee asked for help making sure one of the most conservative states was represented in the parade.
Committee spokeswoman Aoife McCarthy confirmed that the group would be the only one representing Wyoming. She said having marchers that represent the nation's spirit, values and diversity is a priority for the group.
Collins said all the money was raised privately, including some money from a benefactor working with the committee. The state, which has required its agencies to cut their budgets because of reduced tax revenue, wasn't able to provide any money in such a short amount of time.
Collins said he decided to move ahead with the trip anyway because most members of the group have never been to Washington before and some have never been far from the reservation or Wyoming. He said they'll be able to share their experience with other members of the tribes when they return home.
"I want to seize the window of opportunity," he said.