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State archaeological site celebrates 50 years with photography and new cultural center

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Wyo Parks
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"More than 10,000 years of rich, cultural history thrives at Medicine Lodge amongst the endless outdoor recreation opportunities. Wildlife viewing and opportunities for adventure are amongst the best in the state,." According to the Wyo Parks website.

In the late 1960s an archeological site near Hyattville revealed around 10,000 years of tribal history. That site became an official state archaeological site in 1973. The Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023.

The park is planning to celebrate its 50th anniversary in June with the construction of an interactive cultural center and a photography contest.

Heather Jolley, the superintendent of Medicine Lodge State Archeological Site, said there will be smells and touchable displays in the new center.

“It's going to be a little bit different than normal cultural centers, rather than like a museum experience, we're going to have it be more immersive. Feel like you're part of the scenes that you have on display there,” she said.

Jolley said currently there are replicas of some of the artifacts that were originally unearthed in the area. Plus there’s a 800 ft. long sandstone cliff with petroglyphs etched into the rock.

Jolley said they are collecting submissions for photos taken at the park for each month to create a calendar.

“Park staff will pick the top three images and put it out on social media for all of them to pick their favorite one. And that will be that month's photo. And we'll do that for the whole year,” she said.

A few of the tribes with historical ties to the area are the Arapaho, Crow, and Shoshone. Jolley said that only a tenth of the artifacts found at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site have been cataloged and many are at the University of Wyoming uncatalogued.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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