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Bighorn sheep ram skulls in trees are culturally significant

a log with a bighorn sheep skull engrained in it
Dubois Museum

Have you ever come across a ram skull up in a tree? Well, it turns out a band of the Shoshone known as the sheep eaters used to place bighorn sheep ram skulls in trees as a ceremonial activity.

This religious practice was also practiced by neighboring tribes as they passed through. The Meeteetse Museumswould like to document where those are located.

Amy Phillips, the museum's education and program director, said as trees get older they are more fragile.

"They're more susceptible to natural decay, but then increasing forest fire intensity, is affecting these culturally important places," said Philips.

So the museums plus the Shoshone National Forest and the National Bighorn Sheep Center want to map the trees to create a record.

map of area where organizations are asking public to look for bighorn sheep ram skulls
Meeteetse Museums

"We're asking the public to put the locations of any known trees, anything sheep eater related," said Phillips. "If they can mark those on the maps that we have, then we will get those put together, and they'll be in the Forest Service database."

The data collection will last until the third week of October.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. She has won a regional Murrow award for her reporting on mental health and firearm owners. During her time leading the Wyoming Public Media newsroom, reporters have won multiple PMJA, Murrow and Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.

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