This e-newsletter is designed to provide a brief update on the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the happenings of its grant recipients.
It is our promise that this e-newsletter be brief, interesting and hopefully something that will provide you with ideas and contacts with other organizations around the state. If you wish to have your activity highlighted in this e-newsletter, please contact Renée Bovée, WCTF Program Coordinator.
Cultural Trust Fund Board Meeting, February 8-9, Cheyenne
The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund board will meet in Cheyenne, February 8-9, 2017 at the Wyoming State Library, 2800 Central Avenue.
The board meeting will focus on review of granting practices and feedback presentations from recent grant recipients.
The meeting on Thursday, February 8 will begin at 1 p.m. and conclude by 4:30 p.m. The meeting on Friday, February 9 will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at approximately 3:30 p.m. An Executive Session may be held if necessary.
The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund meetings are open to the public.
Greybull American Legion Post 32 Rehabilitation
In 1935 ownership of an unused, thirteen year old church was transferred to the American Legion, Greybull Post 32 in exchange for one dollar. The little church became Legion Hall. The humble wood framed building never hosted a noteworthy event or person. It has no remarkable architectural attributes. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 because of its contribution to the development of Greybull’s social order between the years 1935 to 1995. An old World War Two veteran said it best: “No one did any thing in Greybull without the blessing of the American Legion. Hell, you couldn’t even have a baby without the blessing of the Legion. Everything was decided in Legion Hall.” Another World War Two veteran added, “Girls who had promised to wait until after the war for a young man married the first man who returned after the war. There were a lot of angry men. It took a marriage, a divorce, another marriage, another divorce. Sometimes it took four marriages and divorces but eventually everyone ended up with the right mate. Legion Hall was dry and orderly, but a lot of issues were decided out in the alley.”
In 2013 Post 32 had to decide what to do with an old building that had been neglected for over two decades. Civil authorities wanted it demolished for safety reasons. According to Post 32 By-Laws, Legion Hall was owned equally by each member. Meeting in Special Session, a strong majority of member-owners voted to save Legion Hall and all the stories the old building is associated with.
Post 32 had little money. The Greybull community offers a very small capital pool from which we can appeal. Estimates for the cost of renovation ranged from $150,000 to $450,000. Post 32 members were predominantly Vietnam-era or older so volunteerism was not dependable. But there were gestures from the community that offered hope. A Post 32 member donated $3000. The South Big Horn County Historical Society chipped in twice that amount. Another member donated $1000 and offered to pay for an architectural assessment. Applications for grants were sent to foundations all over the country. Our first grant came from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund for $10,000. A grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation followed. Post 32 had sufficient funds to build a new roof but we were paralyzed. Members were unfocused. An Executive Committee consisting of five experienced members could not develop a direction. Only after all responsibility was turned over to an Administrator and a Project Manager was it possible to mobilize a construction plan and a vision for the future of the building.
Legion Hall is now safe and stable. It has a new roof. Work has begun at the main entrance. Improvements are highly visible. Public perceptions have changed. People know we are seriously committed to providing a comfortable community meeting hall, local museum, gallery, and Post Home. We have spent $62,000 but we have a long ways to go.
–Paul Linse, Commander
Enhancing the Washakie Museum’s Permanent Exhibits
A small artisan workshop and gallery in Dubois, Wyoming was the spark that started a yearlong endeavor to enhance and update a portion of The Ancient Basin, one of our museum’s permanent exhibit galleries.
Tom Lucas, a master craftsman and artist, specializes in crafting tools and weapons, particularly with animal horn. Our retired curator was struck by Lucas’ recreation of the mountain sheep horn bow displayed in his gallery. This type of bow was famously used by the Sheep Eater Indians, a distinct mountainous branch of the Shoshone. Using traditional methods, Lucas uses the curled horn of the big horn sheep to create a powerful bow and handmakes the accompanying arrows.
The Washakie Museum features a conical timber lodge or wickiup, the house structure of the Sheep Eater Indians. Despite the grandeur of the lodge there was a tremendous amount of dead space around the structure. We knew Lucas’ bow would add a wonderful new dimension to the Sheep Eater exhibit.
New archaeological research is always being conducted, and we took this opportunity to add an additional interpretive panel with updated archaeological and cultural information. We wanted to visually tell a story about the Sheep Eater Indians, so we added a mural behind the lodge. It depicts a hunting scene high in the mountains with a Sheep Eater using a bow to hunt big horn sheep. We felt that the added visuals, artifact, and interpretive information really flushed out the exhibit and created a much more meaningful experience.
During the planning of the enhancements to the Sheep Eater display we realized this was an excellent opportunity for us to evaluate the rest of our exhibits and see if there were other areas that could be refreshed and enhanced.
Dr. George Frison, a renowned Wyoming archaeologist was not a fan of how the atlatl he donated to us was being displayed. It was exhibited in three discreet vertical parts, and the function of the atlatl was completely lost with how it was displayed. We decided that another visual element was needed and commissioned a mural of an individual throwing an atlatl and the one previously on display was mounted over the top, showing how the weapon was used.
We also used this opportunity to add an additional interpretive panel to explain the history, use, and effectiveness of the atlatl.
The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund generously supported this project with a grant. The enhancement project also had a tremendous amount of community support. Community members gave what they could, be that twenty-five dollars or thousands of dollars. In the end, the Worland community donated over $26,000 for the exhibit improvements and updates. It was great to see such passionate support for a small Wyoming museum.
–Rebecca Brower, Curator
Washakie Museum and Cultural Center