Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection
On View, Lower Level
Plains Indian Museum
Plains Indian Museum staff Rebecca West and Hunter Old Elk, with the help of Collections Manager Ann Marie Donoghue, unroll a Buffalo Hide Tipi, ca. 1860 from the Paul Dyck Buffalo Culture Collection in the Plains Indian Museum.
The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Gallery on the lower level of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Plains Indian Museum provides a space dedicated solely to this collection’s display, and showcases more than eighty objects from the collection of more than 2,000 artifacts, many of them masterworks from the early 1880s.
The artist Paul Dyck (1917 – 2006) devoted his life to the study of cultures and histories of Plains Indian people. With origins in his father’s collection begun in 1886 while living near the Blood Reserve in Alberta, Canada, Paul Dyck systematically expanded his collection over many years to represent excellence in Plains artistry and creativity through long-standing friendships and family relationships with Blackfeet, Crow, Cheyenne, Assiniboine, Arapaho, Nez Perce, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Otoe, and other Plains Native peoples.
The 2,000 piece collection consists of objects dating from the late 1700s to 1890s. Dyck identified this period as the “Buffalo Culture” era. With many individual pieces of exceptional artistry and historic significance, the collection as a whole includes works from every Plains tribe and, through exhibition, study, and interpretation, illustrates and commemorates tribal cultures and lives which form a significant component of the heritage of the American West.
The Paul Dyck Collection includes objects associated with individuals of national significance in American cultural history including leaders such as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce; great Lakota leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse; the last recognized chief of the Crow nation, Plenty Coups; Mountain Chief, leader of the Blackfeet; and historic explorers, Lewis and Clark. Other collection materials are associated with significant historical events including firearms and other weapons used at the Battle of Little Bighorn and objects associated with Curly and White Swan of the Crow 7th Cavalry scouts at the battle.
In September 2007, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West acquired the collection to ensure its preservation for current and future generations. In January 2009, the Center was awarded a “Save America’s Treasures” grant for the long term preservation of the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection.
The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection acquired through the generosity of the Dyck Family and additional gifts of the Nielson Family and the Estate of Margaret S. Coe.
This project is supported in part by Save America’s Treasures through a partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.