Paul Dyck Plains Indian Collection Receives Major Preservation Grant

Buffalo Bill Historical Center Awarded $350,000 from Save America’s Treasures to Help Process, Store Rare Artifacts

Sunday, March 01 2009 17:43   Native Americans
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming has been awarded a Save America's Treasures grant for the preservation of the nationally renowned Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection.

The $350,000 grant provides the funds necessary to continue processing the collection, making it accessible to researchers, tribal members, and scholars, as well as to improve storage conditions for its proper care and preservation.

The Dyck collection, acquired in 2007, "has long been considered by art historians, ethnologists, and historians to be the most comprehensive privately-held assemblage of Plains Indian arts and related historical materials documenting the lives and cultures of Native people of the Great Plains," said Emma I. Hansen, Plains Indian Museum curator.

Bruce Eldredge, executive director of the historical center, noted, "This collection is a major cultural asset for our country and our receipt of this grant is recognition of its importance to the United States."

National cultural and historical significance is a major component of the criteria used by Save America's Treasures in evaluating grant projects.

In awarding the grant, the National Park Service, which administers Save America's Treasures in partnership with several federal cultural agencies, recognized the breadth of the collection in time period, object type, and representation of Plains tribes.

The comprehensive assemblage of pre-reservation era objects dates from the late 1700s to the 1890s and includes hide clothing, beaded and quilled cradles, buffalo hide tipis, painted buffalo robes, shields, bear claw necklaces, eagle feather bonnets, peace medals, moccasins, and leggings.

An example of the assemblage can be seen in the photo to the left of a Northern Plains Indian shirt, circa 1850, that we bring to our readers as part of our coverage about the $350,000 Save America's Treasures grant. The photo, exclusive to OldWestNewWest.Com Travel & History Magazine, has never been released before to a publication.

"With many individual pieces of exceptional artistry and historic significance, the collection as a whole includes works from every Plains tribe," added Hansen. "Through exhibition, study, and interpretation, this collection will illustrate and commemorate tribal cultures and lives which form a significant component of the heritage of the American West."

The grant allows the historical center to move forward with processing the collection, begun last year with a small preview exhibit of 11 objects on display in the Plains Indian Museum.

"This major grant is an important step in making the Paul Dyck collection accessible to all Americans," said Eldredge. "It can now be properly stored and processed so that it can be used for exhibitions and programs."

The grant funds a research associate position to coordinate the cataloguing and storage of the collection as staff moves forward with exhibition and publication plans. Current historical center staff member Anne Marie Shriver, most recently web content developer, is transferring to the position. Shriver has degrees in history and anthropology from the University of Wyoming, and is a former researcher for the Plains Indian Museum.

"I'm proud and humbled to be working with this national treasure, and, in a small way, to help realize Paul Dyck's dream of having future generations of both Native and non-Native people see, appreciate, and learn from the amazing objects he and his father assembled over many years," said Shriver. "It's exciting to be part of this big new venture at the historical center."

The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection was acquired through the generosity of the Dyck family and additional gifts of the Nielson family and the estate of Margaret S. Coe. More information on the Plains Indian Museum and this collection can be found at .

Start any journey into the American West at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, currently operating its winter schedule, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; closed Monday through Wednesday.

Devoted to western cultural and natural history, the center is comprised of the Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History, and McCracken Research Library. For general information, visit or call (307) 587-4771.


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