The events of the last several weeks here in Cody and in communities across the United States speak to both the best and worst of what makes our “noble experiment” (as the Founders described it) successful. We have seen horrific violence but also impressive bravery and even greater humanity. These events remind us that our Republic is far from perfect and that we are constantly evolving with the ultimate goal of being better tomorrow than we are today.
I celebrate the peaceful protests that occurred in Cody and elsewhere as they represent the best that our country has stood for over the years: a willingness, regardless of your political stripes, to raise your hand and be publicly counted in support of an issue.
Museums are essential for telling stories and connecting Americans to their past and present. Yet the issues of race, gender and sexual equality are ones that — as a museum dedicated to connecting people with the stories of the American West — we must do better in addressing.
The story of the American West (from prehistoric to the present) does not belong to a single group. Sadly, we do not do very well in conveying the diversity of those stories to our visitors. In presenting a narrow, often one-sided perspective, we are not intellectually honest with ourselves either.
To that end, I have asked the Collections, Education, and Museum Services Division to take a hard and thoughtful look at our rotating and permanent exhibitions and to see how we can truly represent the entire story of the American West.
We are not seeking a token response but rather a deep and thoughtful review of what we do and specific action steps to ensure that changes will happen.
Our strategic plan focuses upon certain key common themes that should be reflected in all our programs and exhibitions. One of those themes is: Identities, Cultures, and Diversity: Dynamic cultures, environments, and events shape identity in the American West.
I end with a voice of hope from a former, long deceased, President of the United States. His words are prophetic for all of us in the Center as we look both forward and backward at this time:
“I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents.
This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds.
It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
CEO & Director
Buffalo Bill Center of the West