Cowboy. Gold prospector. Linguist. Victorian gentleman. Adventurer. Writer. Politician—all apt words for Scotland’s Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852 – 1936). On Monday, June 23, Chris Dixon of the Cunninghame Graham Society presents an illustrated program about this man, one of the greatest sons of Scotland, in Reflections on Wounded Knee by Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham. The program begins at noon in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium and is free with admission.
“In Argentina, Cunninghame Graham is known as Don Roberto and is something of a national hero,” Dixon says, “and yet, in his homeland today, he is little known. That is something that the recently-formed Cunnighame Graham Society is out to change! He is a fascinating and controversial figure, linking Scotland and the American West in both his life and works.”
In fact, Cunninghame Graham met William F. “Buffalo Bill”” Cody during the Scotsman’s western travels; the Wounded Knee Massacre in December 1890—the focus of Dixon’s presentation—further links both men. Cody attempted to rendezvous with Sitting Bull, which might have averted the tragedy, and Cunninghame Graham penned two critical essays in the wake of the disaster.
Dixon is a historian, linguist, and educator, with many years’ experience teaching at universities in Scotland and Ireland. He is a member of the United Kingdom’s Chartered Institute of Linguists, holds two masters degrees in languages from Glasgow University, and a PhD in American history from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, with a dissertation on Buffalo Bill in Barcelona. He edited and annotated two publications for the Papers of William F. Cody, Buffalo Bill from Prairie to Palace by John M. Burke, and Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill by Charles Eldridge Griffin; both books are available for purchase in the the Center’s Museum Store.
Buffalo Bill Museum Curator and Managing Editor of the Papers of William F. Cody, Jeremy M. Johnston, notes Dixon’s presentation is part of an ongoing scholarly effort to examine and interpret the connections between Scotland and the American West. “Cunninghame Graham’s fascination with the people and places of the American West reflects a deep interest held by many Scots in the past and the present,” Johnston explains.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.