Monday, August 25, 2014

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West

While in Cody, we took the opportunity to go the the Wild West Museum.   Although I really did not know that much about Buffalo Bill, I was hoping he was a "good guy" and was reluctant to support a place that glorified the killing of Native Americans.  After visiting the museum, I learned that he certainly had a wide and varied career and was involved in all kinds of activities.  He herded cattle, drove a wagon train, was a fur trapper and gold miner,  and rode for the Pony Express. After the Civil War, he scouted for the Army and earned his nickname as a hunter.  I'm sure "scouting for the Army" involved warring with Native Americans, unfortunately.

Wonder how many firearms were checked at the security desk.  The sign kinda creeped me out.  However, I suppose I would rather they be checked than having people carrying them around.

We figured we'd be in and out of the museum but it was huge, with quite a few different areas to see.  The Native American section was quite extensive and informative.  The kids loved all of the artifacts and historical items and we learned a good deal about the Plains tribes who lived in Wyoming.

 There was also a nature section which included lots of hands-on activities and fun stuff to do.

Ally got to try out a saddle.


 There was also an extensive art section

 Native American artifacts

Some kind of old time oil rig equipment

Looking at fossils and replicas of animal antlers and horns

Yes, there was a firearms section. I have never seen so many guns!  Aidan was quite interested while the rest of us were not overly impressed.

You can see my attitude!

Buffalo Bill was later known for his Wild West Show, which traveled all over the US, Canada and Europe! I had no idea the troupe performed in places like Austria, Croatia and Hungary, and took part in Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.  The museum had a huge world map indicating all the places the Wild West Show performed, including little ole Abilene, Texas in 1908 and 1915.   Click here if you want to see if the show ever came to your town.  :)

According to the website for the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Denver, CO, "he was also a champion of women's rights, advocating equal pay and voting rights for women. The women in his show received comparable pay for comparable work to the men in the show. In fact, the women in the show often out-rode and out-gunned the men.  Certainly the most famous was Annie Oakley, nicknamed Little Sure Shot by Sitting Bull."

 More art

I suppose my conclusion after reading more about Buffalo Bill is that he, like most of us, was a person of contradictions. While he scouted for the Army and fought Native Americans as a younger man, he reportedly also supported Native American rights as well as women's rights later in his life.  He brought the Native American story into his Wild West show, yet it was probably not the most accurate representation and served to introduce stereotypes that continue to this day.  I don't think we can excuse him for ignorance or for adhering to the beliefs and customs of his time, but we can probably understand how that happens.  And at the very least, the Museum seems to be aware of the importance of portraying various aspects of history more accurately.

Our quick "in and out" visit turned into more than 5 hours!  Rich and I couldn't believe the kids could stay interested and occupied that long, but they had a blast and seemed very excited about the whole day.

Back in the RV for the night.  Next stop,  Yellowstone!

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