Jan 14, 2016

Buffalo Bill Center artifacts make Wyoming’s list of top artifacts

Two items housed at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West have been named as being among the state's top artifacts.

A painting from the center’s Whitney Western Art Museum and ration tickets from the Plains Indian Museum each cracked a compilation of Wyoming’s Most Significant Artifacts.

“We are always proud when our collections are revered,” said Bruce Eldredge, the center’s executive director and CEO. “To have them identified as important to Wyoming is yet another great honor.”

Coming in fourth on the most significant list was “Last of the Buffalo,” an 1889 piece by Albert Bierstadt. It underscores the closing frontier, the perceived demise of Plains Indian culture and extinction of the buffalo, the center says.

"Last of the Buffalo," by Albert Bierstadt, has been picked as one of Wyoming's most significant artifacts.

“The scene is set either in the Sweetwater River valley or more likely in Yellowstone National Park,” said Karen McWhorter, Whitney Western Art Museum Curator. “Bierstadt traveled Wyoming in the 1850s and 1860s, chronicling the sights of the area, Indian culture and the plight of the buffalo, among other topics.”

A second version of the painting graces the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, a collection of 1905 ration tickets from the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming came in at No. 8 on the artifacts list.

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone residents (traditional enemies living on the reservation) presented the tickets to officials in exchange for food and supplies.

Ration tickets from 1905. Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West
“The ration tickets remind residents of this region, state and nation that there is an Indian presence here, despite historical events that forced cultural change,” said Rebecca West, Plains Indian Museum curator.

The Wyoming State Historical Society, in partnership with the University of Wyoming Libraries, launched the artifacts project to help celebrate 125 years of Wyoming statehood.

Both organizations wanted to recognize the cultural institutions throughout Wyoming that preserve and provide access to collections that “enhance our enjoyment and understanding of Wyoming’s heritage and provide ongoing learning and research opportunities.”

Other objects on the list are the Wyoming state flag, South Pass City mill, mammoth skeleton, 1863 map, sheepherder wagon, Apatosaurus specimen, Clovis points and stereoviews (antique photographs) of Oregon Trail emigrant wagons in 1859.

Participating archives, historical societies, libraries and museums across Wyoming each nominated one item from their collection that has significance to Wyoming’s history. An independent panel of judges culled the list to the top 25 artifacts, and then allowed the public to vote for their favorites.

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