“Here in the Plains Basin of North America, we find some of the most exceptional rock art in the Americas,” says Bonnie Lawrence-Smith, Curatorial Assistant of the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. She explains that—like populations everywhere—the early peoples of the Bighorn Basin wove stories as explanations for the natural world around them.
Without science as we know it today, stories and myths allowed man to explain the extraordinary in ways comprehensible to him at the time. “Our early fathers would cry to Heaven,” notes Lawrence-Smith, “beseeching what powers that be to bless, curse, or create.” Rock art gives us insight into the resulting world view of early peoples.
Lawrence-Smith is the presenter at the Draper Museum’s next Lunchtime Expedition lecture on Thursday, November 1 at 12:15 p.m. Cry to Heaven: Golden Eagles and Thunderbirds in the Bighorn Basin takes place in the Center’s Coe Auditorium and is free. The talk focuses on raptors, birds of prey, consistently depicted in rock art and found in several sites on both public and private lands that Lawrence-Smith highlights.
“There is a direct correlation and connection,” Lawrence-Smith proposes, “between ancient eagle (Aquila crysataetos) nests, Native American eagle traps, and thunderbird representations at these sites, and the early Native American narrative.” Her talk explores these connections.
Lawrence-Smith received her Associate of Arts degree in Anthropology from Santa Monica College in 2007, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009. While at UCLA, she worked with Dr. Thomas Wake in the Zooarchaeology lab investigating the ancient diet of people living off the Panamanian coast, and with Dr. David A. Scott in the Cotsen School of Archaeology conservation lab studying ancient metallurgy.
An active member of the Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists, Lawrence-Smith is currently president of the Absaroka Chapter of the Wyoming Archaeology Society, and an organizing member of the Cody Culture Club and P.E.A.K.S. She is also on the board of the Park County Historic Preservation Commission and the Montana Archaeologists education board. She has worked on several projects with HistoriCorp in both Colorado and Wyoming.
Lunchtime Expedition lectures are organized by the Draper Natural History Museum and supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation. The 2018 series concludes on December 6, when Brian Bedrosian presents Beyond Borders, Bird Migrations to, from, and through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. After a brief hiatus, the series then resumes on February 7, 2019.
To learn more about the Draper Museum’s natural science programs, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history or contact Lawrence-Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4020. Explore the Center’s full calendar of events.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page. #100YearsMore
Image: Bonnie Lawrence-Smith examines petroglyphs at Legend Rock Petroglyph Site. Courtesy photo.
Contact: Bonnie Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4020.