National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Oklahoma City, OK



Legends of Our Times: Native Ranching and Rodeo Life on the Plains and Plateau

"Legends of Our Times: Native Ranching and Rodeo Life on the Plains and Plateau" is the first-ever exhibition to examine the history of the native cowboy and the culture of native ranching and rodeo, past and present. The traveling exhibition will open at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center on October 21, 2000. The exhibition, a project of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, draws on that museum's extraordinary collection of Native artifacts, paintings, sculpture, archival and contemporary photographs, interviews and video recordings to depict this largely unexplored tradition. (left: Dance Stick)

Legends of Our Times is the culmination of intense research over five years by Morgan Baillargeon, Curator of Plains Ethnology, and Leslie Tepper, Curator of Plateau Ethnology, working with a Native advisory committee. Visitors learn of the supernatural and natural forces underlying the relationships Native peoples have with the horse, dog and buffalo and of the impact the transition from a hunting/gathering lifestyle to the restrictions of reservation life had on First Peoples. (left: Baby Bag)

Archival photographs and more than 800 artifacts - authentic clothing, exquisitely crafted saddles, decorated horse gear, tack, blankets, rodeo equipment, memorabilia, hunting tools and pow wow regalia - trace the history of Aboriginal peoples as buffalo hunters, horsemen, ranchers and cowboys, as entertainers and as participants in the sport of rodeo. (left: Horse Effigies)

"The story of the Native cowboy has never been told before," said Dr. George MacDonald, former President and CEO of the CMC. "Now, after decades of collecting and study in close consultation with Native partners from the Plains and Plateau, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is proud to elucidate the heritage and achievement of the Horse People with this ground breaking exhibition, Legends of Our Times."

Within the spacious Grayce B. Kerr Gallery at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, sections will be devoted to rodeo, ranching, industries and entertainment, museum-goers come to understand the important role ranching and rodeo have played in Native peoples' lives and see how certain forms of entertainment - from parades to pow-wows and Hollywood westerns - have evolved from ranching and rodeo life. (left: bit)

The Museum's Curator of Ethnology, Mike Leslie, explains that, "While the exhibition focuses on Native people of the northern Plains and Plateau regions, it is an important exhibition for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame because the story parallels the history of many of the tribes of Oklahoma. An important aspect of this story is that it is told about Native people by Native people." A Lakota beaded saddle cover and Blackfeet horse mask from the Hall's private collection will be included in the exhibit.

Read more about the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Resource Library Magazine

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/4/11

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