NIMI & NINA MCCONIGLEY

 This two-part profile features Nimi McConigley - the first woman of color in the United States to run a television news station and the first Indian-born person in the United States to be elected to state government - as well as her daughter, Nina McConigley - the award-winning author of Cowboys and East Indians

Nina McConigley (left) and her mother, Nimi McConigley (right)

Nina McConigley (left) and her mother, Nimi McConigley (right)

Journalist & Politician, Nimi McConigley - the first woman of color to run a TV news station and the first Indian-born person in the country to be elected to state government in Casper, Wyoming.

Journalist & Politician, Nimi McConigley - the first woman of color to run a TV news station and the first Indian-born person in the country to be elected to state government in Casper, Wyoming.

 
 
You can do it! With the color of my skin, and the way I dress, and what I am from another country even. Any one of you can do what I did. You just have to have courage, and trust and believe in yourself, and you have to accept defeat. And not let that stop you. Keep trying!
— Groundbreaking Journalist & Politician, Nimi McConigley
 
 
 
 

Listen to Nimi's Story. 

 

Nimi’s storied life began in Madras, India where she became an established journalist- working for India’s first and to-date, only female Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi. She attended Columbia School of Journalism, worked at WGBH- the PBS station in Boston, then ran her own station in Delhi. There, she met her husband, Pat and relocated because of Pat’s work to Casper, Wyoming where they've lived for the last 40 years.

In Casper, Nimi became the first woman of color to run a television news station, and later, ran for office and became the first Indian-born person in the entire US to serve in state government. Known as a community-minded person for years before running for office, Nimi helped start the hospice program in Casper as well as a weekly foreign film club. Her story is a true tale of courage, being yourself and embracing difference as a strength.  

 
 
Nimi McConigley- a former Wyoming legislator born in Madras, India who has called Casper, Wyoming home for the last 40 years. 

Nimi McConigley- a former Wyoming legislator born in Madras, India who has called Casper, Wyoming home for the last 40 years. 

 
 
When I was sworn into the legislature, my mind flashed back...did I ever think I’d end up in the cowboy country? Here I am in the Wyoming state legislature, being sworn in as a legislator. Who would have ever thought this little girl in India would have ever ended up here.
 
 
Nimi wearing one of her many sari's, a traditional Indian dress. This design is known as a 'temple' sari, for the peaks which resemble a temple.

Nimi wearing one of her many sari's, a traditional Indian dress. This design is known as a 'temple' sari, for the peaks which resemble a temple.

 
 
 
You’ve got to believe in yourself ... When your validation comes from inside you, and you validate yourself, that can’t be taken away by anyone.
— Nimi McConigley
 
 
 
 
 

Listen to Nina's Story. 

Nina McConigley is an accomplished author whose work tells a less common story of Wyoming- one of identity, race and the immigrant experience in the rural West. Nina didn't always know that she wanted to become a writer, though. It took working an insurance job after college for Nina to realize she needed to pursue her true interests. She signed up for her first creative writing class and never looked back. Nina's first book, Cowboys and East Indians, won the prestigious Pen Open Book Award in 2014, as well as the High Plains Book award and made Oprah’s List. Nina's passionate about sharing a different perspective of Wyoming with her students as well- she's a professor at the University of Wyoming in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and teaches around the country. Nina tells me what it was like growing up in Wyoming as a woman of color, her creative process and her upcoming novel. 

Award-winning author and professor, Nina McConigley.

Award-winning author and professor, Nina McConigley.

 
 
I do wish more young people stayed in Wyoming, whether you’re of color or not. In some ways, I feel it’s my responsibility to my students who come in from all over Wyoming to show that there are people of color that grew up here, and we stayed here, and we love it here. I want to add to the diversity in Wyoming, and I feel like if everybody left, we’d be even worse off.
— Nina McConigley
 
 
Nina (left) with her mother, Nimi (right) at Nimi's home in Casper, Wyoming.

Nina (left) with her mother, Nimi (right) at Nimi's home in Casper, Wyoming.

 
 
The writing process is kind of magical ... Usually it’s just a snippet of something that happened. It’s often times when you weave a story together, and it’s done that you see, that’s what I was trying to say.

I think when I sit down to write it’s that I want to tell an interesting story ... It’s what’s in your subconscious. It just seeps onto the page.
— Nina McConigley
 
 
Nina and Nimi McConigley.

Nina and Nimi McConigley.