THE IMPORTANCE OF CHEYENNE VALLEY
Perhaps one of the reasons that the story of the multi-racial Cheyenne Valley community is largely unknown is because the residents didn't think of themselves as "different". One former resident said of life in the valley, "Everybody was concerned about their neighbor. We didn't even know we were integrated - we just didn't care about color". Much of the history of this community shows that many people truly were "colorblind" when it came to work, schooling, worship, play and marriage. It is somewhat ironic that the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.of a racially tolerant and fully integrated country actually was a reality nearly a century earlier in an isolated, rural valley in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Although the special story of Cheyenne Valley involved only several hundred people, the questions raised by their story have implications for all of us in America. What does this history reveal about racial attitudes in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries? Why was Cheyenne Valley successful in achieving racial harmony? What can we apply from the story of these people in our own lives and communities?