In the thirteenth fall, the Plains Indian Museum hosted high school students, tribal elders, and instructors from St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana. The student’s fall visit is part of a collaborative program between St. Labre Indian Schools and the Plains Indian Museum. Tyrone Bearchum, Taylor Adams, Weston Small, Kyree Bigback, Victoria Bearchum, and K’Ghan Bearcomesout examined objects and learned practical museum procedures. Their visit consisted of two days of intensive lessons with Center staff from curatorial, collections management, conservation, exhibits production, registration. The students also received special tours and played games from the Draper Museum of Natural History, Draper Museum Raptor Experience, and the Whitney Western Art Museum. The students were excellent representatives of the Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Oglala Lakota, Northern Arapaho, and Chippewa Cree Nations.
“During the two days spent at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Center, I really liked and enjoyed how the staff worked and took care of us. It was such great experience to see the “behind the scenes” areas and the exhibits and all the displays in the Plains Indian Museum. The whole museum was very enjoyable. The feeling I got from the Plains Indian museum was amazing!! Knowing that my ancestors created and used the material culture that was in my hands was a powerful feeling. It was a great honor to be in the vaults and to be able to handle objects that weren’t seen on exhibit in the main Plains Indians gallery. It was a privilege to be part of making an exhibit that I took credit for. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of your great institution. I really hope to come back and live this experience again.” -Tyrone Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne)
“I enjoyed the staff who welcomed us so well because they shared so much with us. It was a privilege to go down to the vaults and look at the old historic beadwork and quillwork. Meeting the live birds was also fantastic. I thought it was a great experience to see the raptors up close, especially the golden eagle and the red-tailed hawk. Those birds are well respected by my family and my people. I loved to wander in the Plains Indian Museum and see the very nice exhibits. My personal favorite display was by no contest the Crow woman on the horse with her whole outfit. It was touching to see the well displayed complete horse gear, dress, leggings, moccasins. I thought it was beautiful and it made me proud of my people.” -Taylor Adams (Crow)
“I really learned a lot during my experience at the Buffalo Center of the West—from setting up the exhibit to object handling. My favorite museum was, of course, the Plains Indian Museum. The chance to look at all the Plains Indian objects was great. I also very much enjoyed the Draper Natural History Museum and learning about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem because it was well displayed and explained.” -Weston Small (Northern Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota)
“My museum experience was great and I enjoyed working with the objects. Some of the artifacts were very fragile due to their age. It was comforting for me to know that some of these objects came from my ancestors. To be able to do a full display was quite an experience. I learned a lot from being part of it. Thanks to the museum staff who guided us so well. I hope to go again in the future and I hope that more students will have the same experience I had. I also hope that they will take interest in museum work and study.” -Kyree Bigback (Northern Cheyenne and Northern Arapaho)
“The field trip to Cody at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West was a very good experience for all of us, students. Personally, this trip educated me in a lot of ways about aspects of museum work. The staff there was fantastic and the interaction was great. They showed us how objects were taking care of and how to make an exhibit. Being able to have the opportunity to closely look and handle some of the collection pieces was a great honor. I could tell we were special guests as we went in the vaults where nobody else can go. I loved to look at the live eagles and be able to be that close to those special birds was a blessing.
Going on this trip was a good decision on my part because I can’t remember the last time I went to a museum that had a special area just for American Indian material culture. The experience was so magnificent. What mattered the most to me is that my people are honored and respected. Lastly, I would like to thank all the people that made this trip a lasting experience for us St Labre students, and the ones who gave us the opportunity to be there.” -Victoria Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne and Chippewa Cree)
“My experience at the Buffalo Center of the West was overall a very good one. Everyone was very welcoming and very nice. The best part of the museum for me was when we got to go down into the vaults and see a lot of objects that were from my tribes and to see other tribes’ beadwork and quillwork as well. It really surprised me how my people and other tribes did their beadwork in the historical time.It was absolutely breathtaking to look at dresses, bags, cradleboards, etc.
The beadwork was amazing to see because of all the details involved in each piece. My people really put a lot of effort into their material culture. I could tell it was meaningful to them. The exhibit we put together looked amazing as well. I liked how we came together as one and choose what we wanted to be put in our display. I learned so much and the field trip was overall an enjoyable trip.” -K’Ghan Bearcomesout (Northern Cheyenne and Sioux)
The Plains Indian Museum staff were deeply impressed by the students’ interpretations of moccasins, dolls, flutes, gauntlets, and other materials. The student’s case will be on display through the 2017 summer. Their other choices can be viewed via virtual exhibit here.