Wyoming Minute

One-minute audio snapshots of Wyoming.

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The Plains Indian Museum recently acquired two pieces of artwork from Lakota artist Dyani White Hawk. The two paintings are small 13 inch cubes. Rebecca West, the curator of the museum, said the paintings really evoke White Hawk’s formal artistic training and generational skill of beadwork. West said the pieces are bands of color done in acrylic and beadwork.

Credit Nathan Horton / Draper Natural History Museum

  

At one point in time, the swallow-tail kite bird was a common species in the Great Plains, including eastern Wyoming.

But Dr. Charles Preston, the former curator of the Draper Natural History Museum, said they no longer are found in this region.

Buffalo Bill Center of The West. P.6.266

Cody is named after William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, but what not many know is that this was a strategic choice. George Beck, a Wyoming politician and entrepreneur, was the first one to pitch the idea of building a canal in the Bighorn Basin, specifically around present-day Cody region.

“He [Beck] learned that Cody was coming to town and they decided to recruit Buffalo Bill because Buffalo Bill would be the greatest promoter for any project or investment here in the Bighorn Basin,” said Jeremy Johnston, the curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum. 

The McCracken Research Library receives hundreds of collections of journals, notebooks and photographs annually. Often, library staff are not able to go through it all. But when library fellows come in to research their own interests, many unknown gems are exposed.


Frank Perely Fairbanks (1875-1939). An Apotheosis of A. Phimister Proctor, 1927. Oil on linen, 126.5 x 78.75 inches. Gift of Jonathan Fairbanks Richards in memory of Barbara Fairbanks Fite

Frank Perely Fairbanks was a classmate of Phimister Proctor’s, the famous American sculptor, at the American Academy in Rome.

Fairbanks, who was himself was a portraitist, admired Proctor greatly. So much so that he painted a monumental portrait of Proctor. Karen McWhorter, the curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, said the painting doesn’t only portray Proctor but his family as well. 

Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection


The Cody Firearms Museum is home to over 7,000 firearms but there’s one that is particularly popular with the public. That gun is a percussion trap gun. Ashley Hlebinsky, the curator of the museum, said it's nickname is the watermelon patch gun.

Courtesy of the Plains Indian Museum.

Museums are collections of objects that tell a story about something. At the Plains Indian Museum, the objects tell the story of the Plains Indian people. But sometimes the materials the objects are made out of are hard to conserve.

Courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Draper Natural History Museumwas founded in 1998. The founding curator, Dr. Charles Preston, had a surprise collection waiting for him when he arrived.

 


Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

It’s well known that President Theodore Roosevelt helped shape the American West as we know it today. But the curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum, Jeremy Johnston, said Roosevelt, along with Buffalo Bill, also promoted the romance and myth of the American West.


Courtesy of the Plains Indian Museum.

During the Reservation Era, roughly from the 1870s to the 1920s, Native Americans were required to move onto allotments of land. Rebecca West, the curator of the Plains Indian Museum, said it was a time when the United States government followed a policy of extermination and assimilation. 


Wikipedia Commons

It's normal for librarians at the McCracken Research Library to find postcards, photos and other pieces of paper tucked away in a book. But it isn't every day that you find a postcard written to the famous painter Charles Russell.

 

  

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, USA; Gift in Memory of Hal Tate from Naoma Tate and the Family of Hal Tate, 9.05

Back in 2015, when Karen McWhorter just started her position as curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, she was interviewed for a magazine.

One of the questions: what was her favorite painting in the Whitney’s collection? 

Courtesy of Cody Firearms Museum

Throughout history, it was common for royalty to present another noblemen or royalty with a firearm. The gift usually symbolized peace between countries or two parties.

Corey Anco

Before the expansion of the West, there was an estimate of almost 600 million beavers throughout North America. But in the early 1800s, when unregulated harvesting of beaver pelts began, the beaver almost went extinct within a 40-year period.

Fort Worth Five Photograph

The McCracken Research Library is a local history library not only a library specializing in all things Buffalo Bill. And the Cody area is not lacking interesting stories of the west.

Simplot Collection, Gift of J.R. Simplot; NA.203.838

Often the uniqueness of a piece stands out more than something that follows the trend. For Hunter Old Elk, the curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum, this rings true for a particular beaded bag in the museum’s collection.

Don Stinson is a contemporary artist who uses traditional methods and materials. His painting “I-80 Energy Romance” portrays a western landscape, but also depicts a gas station sign, truck tracks, and windmills.

Image from the Cody Firearms Museum, Museum Purchase

  


In firearms history, there are many parallels between firearm production and automobile production. So Ashley Hlebinsky, the curator of the Cody Firearms Museum, was excited to find one lever action shotgun that held significance to two tycoons in the automobile industry.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was so famous by the end of the 19th century it traveled to Europe. These shows were celebrated back in America by billboard-sized posters. These posters are rare to find. This was the time when posters were plastered on walls, then the next show would come in and a new poster would be plastered over it. So eventually the poster would be scraped off the wall.

Kamila Kudelska

Between 1995 and 1997, 41 wolves from Canada and Northwest Montana were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. Twenty years has passed and the population has grown close to 400 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Recently Rebecca West, the curator of the Plains Indian Museum, discovered an unique feather bonnet in the Paul Dyck Buffalo Culture Collection. The bonnet didn’t look like any of the typical bonnets seen previously.

Proctor Self-Portrait, 1882. Oil on paperboard, 26 x 22 inches. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming. Gift of A. Phimister Proctor Museum with special thanks to Sandy and Sally Church. 2.16.9

Alexander Phimister Proctor was a known as the sculptor in buckskin. Born in Canada, he fell in love with the American West and most of his work featured the West. However, he didn’t only sculpt, he occasionally painted.

Image Courtesy the Cody Firearms Museum, Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection

The wheellock rifle was invented in the 1500s. These were incredibly popular guns in England during the 1600s so there are many that have survived until modern times.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Stabler. 1.69.2641 Buffalo Bill Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY

Theodore Roosevelt worked hard during his presidency to conserve the natural resources of the United States. As such, he was often traveling around the West. During these trips, he often went out on hunting expeditions.

Kamila Kudelska


The black-footed ferret is one of the fiercest, tiny predators. In the 1950’s scientists suspected the predators had gone extinct in the wild. But Corey Anco, the assistant curator of the Draper Natural History Museum, says in 1981 there was a new discovery.

The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection, acquired through the generosity of the Dyck family and additional gifts of the Nielson Family and the Estate of Margaret S. Coe

At the turn of the century, ethnologists and anthropologists were trying to collect objects from different Plains Indian cultures, since they believed the cultures would not survive. The “laundry list,” as it was referred to, attempted to collect everything special and unique from the disappearing cultures. This usually included fancier items like beaded clothing, since they were considered to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming. Gift of The Coe Foundation. 11.70

 

The painter, Alfred Jacob Miller, was an early artist explorer depicting the American West. But it turns out, he only went out to the West once. His patron, William Drummond Stewart, commissioned Miller to come along to a rendezvous out near present day Pinedale, Wyoming. A rendezvous was a gathering of fur traders and trappers of Native American suppliers. They convened to get ready before the fur trade season came.

The M1 Carbine is a short, lightweight rifle that was introduced during World War II and then used throughout most of the rest of the 20th century. The army developed the rifle as an alternative to their big and heavy M1 Garand rifle, which was close to nine or ten pounds.

Kamila Kudelska

Buffalo Bill Cody’s two-story childhood home stands in the courtyard of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s the largest object in the Center’s collection.

Kamila Kudelska


It's Christmas Eve 2000. The curator of the Draper Museum of Natural History, Dr. Charles Preston and his wife were driving along the North Fork corridor when they spotted a truck.

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