Who is Peter Steiger?
Peter B. Steiger was born in Toronto, but moved to Texas as a child. He moved to Wyoming in 1997, prompted by safety concerns for his children after the first AMBER alert. After researching state crime rates, he and his wife chose Wyoming, where she was accepted to nursing school. He also felt like an outsider in Texas, where he was becoming cynical and contrarian; he attributes his softening of views over the decades to his active participation in the church. Peter identifies as a white heterosexual male with German and Welsh ancestry, with political views mostly Libertarian and strong evangelical Christian beliefs. He became involved in the Facing Whiteness project after seeing a request for participants on Facebook. Peter works as a software engineer and lives west of Cheyenne with his wife and two cats in a very rural area. In his spare time Peter enjoys singing a cappella with barbershop and gospel quartets.
Excerpt from interview with Peter Steiger by Whitney Dow, 2018
Steiger: [01:00:26] Oh, sorry. What brought me to Wyoming was the AMBER Alert in 19—I’m working on it—1990—I’m sorry—1997 is the year that the Amber [R. Hagerman] of AMBER Alert fame was taken off the street in what was considered a safe neighborhood, broad daylight, witnesses all around, truck just pulled up, yanked her off and drove off. And our kids were about the same age at the time, around eight years old. And my wife said, “We are not staying here. I don’t care if you have to quit your job. We’re moving someplace where our children will be safe.” And I did some research, started looking at crime rate per capita in different states. And most of the states up in this area, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, all had very low crime rates, and we arbitrarily picked Wyoming, so she could go to nursing school at the University of Wyoming. And we came up here.
Q: And how do you like it? Do you feel now like a Wyomingite or do you feel like a transplant? Do you feel like a Canadian?
Steiger: [01:01:45] That’s an interesting question. How do I feel as a Wyomingite? I have never really felt like I belonged to a community because I moved to so many different places. Going back to Houston, my mother tells me that when I was six years old and just moved there I wanted so hard to fit in, I would stand in front of the mirror practicing to be a Texan. And I don’t know if that ever really worked. Howdy, eh? And up here I am a little bit of—how can I put this? I have some liberal tendencies and some conservative tendencies. I end up positioning myself as a centrist among a largely conservative rural community. I live out in a ranching community. I’m the only computer nerd there. And so I still don’t really feel like I fit in. But I do like the Wyoming spirit and attitude of independence. Just leave us alone to do things our way. So in that sense I do feel like this is my home now.
Q: And do you feel you’ve been accepted by these Wyomingites?
Steiger: [01:03:18] Absolutely. Sometimes if I get into—oh. Yes, I do feel like I’ve been accepted by the Wyomingites. Sometimes if I get into political arguments on Facebook, which I’m trying to stop doing because it just causes more strife, my more extreme conservative friends will become angry if I do things like throw Snopes at them to disprove some allegation. But for the most part, the ranching community has been very welcoming. They like having a computer geek they can call on. I like having somebody who can show me how to fix the carburetor in my tractor. So we get along well.