Scots in the American West
This exhibition, Scots in the American West, documents the individual accomplishments of a few Scots in the American West. Their stories reflect the collective contributions of the Scottish impact on the extensive and dynamic history of the American West. The exhibition features sixteen large interpretive panels and four sculptures from the Center of the West’s collections.
These two sculptures attest to a cultural exchange between Scotland and the American West. The Robert Burns statue was donated by Mary Gilchrist to the City of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1928 (Richard Collier photo, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources). The Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody statue was presented to the people of Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland, by Regency Homes and unveiled by Mr. Paul Martin, Member of Scottish Parliament, in 2006. (Linda Clark photo).
Sponsored by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the panels from the exhibition are designed to travel to other locations after its run at the Center. The exhibition panels were on display at Ellis Island for Tartan Day in April 2014.
Scots endured a land with an unforgiving climate and rugged terrain. Theirs was a violent land defended by native people protecting themselves from cattle thieves, feuding families, and outside invaders. Over many generations, Scots suffered through battles and massacres. These were people accustomed to taking risks, overcoming obstacles, and starting new lives. Their characteristics shaped their own country as well as the distant lands that became their new homes—including North America.
The American West…
Throughout the 1700s, population growth, changes in land use, and political upheaval drove more than 80,000 Scots to North America. Additionally, Scots-Irish settled in America and it is estimated that in excess of 350,000 lived in the United States by 1790. As the United States expanded westward in the 1800s, many of the earliest pioneers were of Scots or Scots-Irish descent.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West offers a special thank you to Naoma Tate and the family of Hal Tate, whose generosity made this exhibition possible. Additional support came from Clan Currie Society, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, LDS Church History Museum, Marjorie Stewart, National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, New York Tartan Week Alliance, Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Stathclyde.