Estes Park Museum Opens New Exhibit: Awakening Stories Of Ancient Bison Hunting
A new exhibit at the Estes Park Museum, Awakening Stories of Ancient Bison Hunting, explores bison hunting as it was practiced for thousands of years by Native Americans occupying territory in the plains and mountains. The public is invited to a free exhibit opening reception on Friday, February 4 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum, located at 200 Fourth Street. During the reception, guests may visit the gallery and enjoy light hors d’oeuvres and drinks. From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on opening night there will be a showing in the Museum Meeting Room of the film American Buffalo: Spirit of a Nation, produced by the National Wildlife Federation. The exhibit, on loan from the City of Greeley Museums, will be on display February 5 through July 17, 2011.
Native peoples began tracking bison thousands of years ago and constructed game drives to funnel the massive animals into confined spaces, facilitating capture. Awakening Stories highlights the Kaplan-Hoover Bison Bone Bed located in Windsor, Colorado, one of the largest hunting sites known in the Americas. The bone bed was unearthed in 1997 during the construction of a new subdivision west of Windsor. Upon discovering the remains of nearly two hundred bison, the area was purchased with a grant from the State Historical Fund and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Anthropologists from Colorado State University have determined the site is 2,700 years old.
Although bison have been extirpated (e.g., are locally extinct) in the Estes valley today, there is proof that they were here at an earlier time. These bison were impressive animals weighing between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds. During the summer months, they migrated to the alpine tundra and grazed on vegetation. While some mountain herds may have wintered in the area, others seasonally migrated to the north or to the eastern foothills. The exhibit includes a bison skull on loan from Rocky Mountain National Park that was found in the Mummy Range. Cultural materials showcased are an arm shield, a medicine bowl, and bison calling tools from modern times.
Hands-on elements of the exhibit consist of hides, horns, and teeth that teach visitors about the bison’s adaptations and habitat. The film American Buffalo: Spirit of a Nation documents America’s last wild bison herd, made up of a few thousand animals living within Montana’s Yellowstone National Park. It shows the efforts of Native American leaders dedicated to bringing back the animal that once provided food and materials for shelter. It will play in the Meeting Room during the reception and will be a permanent fixture in the exhibit.
The Museum’s winter hours are Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. The mission of the Estes Park Museum is to collect, interpret and preserve local history, as well as to present exhibits, programs and events for the education and benefit of residents and visitors of all ages. For more information call the Estes Park Museum at (970) 586-6256 or visit the Museum’s website at www.estes.org/museum. Admission is free.