Wyoming State Museum

A Victim of the Bozeman Trail

In the mid-1860s, Indian tribes in what would become northern Wyoming were asked to sign a treaty with the United States. By doing so, the tribes agreed to allow travelers to move unopposed on the Bozeman Trail to the Montana gold fields. However, while the treaty was being signed in June, 1866, several American military units commanded by Colonel Henry Carrington were already moving into Indian territory to build three forts along the trail.

The Lakota and Cheyenne tribes were outraged. For months they harassed all traffic on the trail, attacked woodcutting parties, ran off stock, and killed anyone who strayed far from the forts. On December 21, 1866, Captain William Fetterman disobeyed orders and led his troops into a well-planned ambush near Fort Phil Kearny. Native American warriors led by Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and High-Back-Bone killed all 81 men in Fetterman's command. This event became known as the Fetterman Fight.

This pistol belonged to Colonel Carrington who was the commanding officerColt Navy Revolver, Model 1851, .36 Caliber of Fort Phil Kearny at the time of the Fetterman Fight. Carrington was blamed for the loss of Captain Fetterman and his soldiers. It took the colonel twenty years to restore his reputation.

An inscription on this pistol reads, "H. B. Carrington, Col. 18th Infantry, U.S.A."

Views of the California Trail

Devil's Gate sketched June 3, 1852.Watercolor on Paper, The Devil's Gate
This is indeed the most singular scenery on the whole route to California. It seems as if the sweet water river had forced its way through this immense pile of rocks - to the left the rock runs up some five or six hundred feet almost perpendicular. One of the early emigrants, it is said climbed up from behind it and was looking over the precipice when he lost his balance and fell to the bottom. Part way up in one of the cavities in the rock may be seen the bones of a man's arm." - Cyrenius Hall

Twenty seven year old artist Cyrenius Hall used a pencil to sketch this view of Devil's Gate while traveling the California Trail in 1852. He added color to it the following year. Hall recorded much of what he saw on his journey including Native American burials, Chinese saloons and camps, sawmills, mining towns, and natural features.

Hauling Supplies

Many Americans came west in the nineteenth century to find opportunity. As more settlers arrived in the West, they displaced Indian tribes already living in the area, forcing them to live on reservations.

The establishment of reservations created new money-making opportunities Wooden Oxen Yoke for some settlers. This ox yoke was owned by Ed Stemler who worked as a freighter for the Camp Carlin supply depot near Cheyenne in the 1870s. Stemler was paid to haul supplies and government rations from Camp Carlin to Indian agencies on reservations throughout the region.

The Shangreaux Collection

This Lakota tribe saddle blanket is part of the John and Lillie Shangreaux Collection. John Shangreaux was half European and half Lakota and he Quill Decorated Saddle Blanket worked and lived in both cultures. Shangreaux was employed as a scout for the United States Army in the late 1800s, and later served as an interpreter for the Indians touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. While touring with Buffalo Bill, he met and married Englishwoman Lillie Orr and the two started a store in Cody, Wyoming. They moved to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in 1897 and John became a successful trader there due to his Lakota mother and close relationship with members of the Lakota tribe. The Shangreaux Collection contains almost 200 items collected by John and Lillie from the late 1800s to 1941.

Little is known about this quill decorated blanket. The presence of flattened porcupine quills in its design should indicate that it is one of the older pieces in the collection since items from the late 1800s and early 1900s are usually decorated with trade beads. However, the blanket also has American flag decorations which did not become popular until the early twentieth century.