Buffalo Bill Center Of The West’s “Scots In The American West” Exhibit Heads to Ellis Island

Monday, March 10 2014 06:49   Museums

Scots in the American West, an exhibit produced by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, (www.centerofthewest.org) heads to New York to celebrate the 13th Annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island, March 28 to 30, 2014.

The exhibition will share stories and images of individuals of Scottish descent in the American West.

scots in w millerCollaborating to take the Center’s Scots exhibit to Ellis Island is the Clan Currie Society, one of the country’s leading Scottish heritage organizations, and which also produces Tartan Day.

The Ellis Island event launches New York Tartan Week, a two-week festival of all things Scottish, including a musical tattoo (drum and marching performances), Scottish fashion show, whisky tastings, a gala dinner, some of the finest Scottish entertainment in New York City, and the annual parade.

The presence of Scots in America began in the late 1600s when Glasgow, Scotland, was the European center for the Virginia tobacco trade, and Scots-Presbyterian dissenters in search of religious freedom established their own colonies in South Carolina and New Jersey. In the 1700s, population growth, agricultural modernization, and political upheaval in Scotland were the driving forces behind more than 50,000 immigrants crossing the Atlantic to America.

At the end of the eighteenth century, when the new Republic in America looked West, many of the earliest “over-mountain men” settling the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys were of Scots or Scots-Irish descent. It is little wonder that in the 1800s, as the United States expanded into the areas now considered the American West, the hardy Scots were so much to the fore.

The Ellis Island exhibition also explores the profound impact of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show on the people of Scotland during his European tours, which took place between 1886 and 1889.

"How wonderful that this important exhibition has found its way to Ellis Island—the Golden Door to America for so many Scottish and Irish immigrants,” remarked the Center’s Buffalo Bill Museum Curator Jeremy Johnston, who is also the exhibition curator. “This is the place of the first steps of their journey to the American West.”

Currently on view at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Scots in the American West exhibition is made possible by the following: Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Naoma Tate and the family of Hal Tate, the Latter Day Saints Church History Museum, Marjorie Stewart, the Clan Currie Society, National Trust for Scotland Foundation-USA, New York Tartan Week Alliance, Smithsonian Institution, the University of Strathclyde, Scotland’s Islands, and the Canadian Friends of Scotland.

Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center is now operating under its spring hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.