Role in Western Migration
The state of Wyoming played a large role in the westward movement of people in the 1800s and early 1900s in the United States.
In 1807, the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through this area with one member, John Coulter recording the phenomena of natural hot springs and geysers that were found in what is now known as Yellowstone National Park.
The Oregon Trail, used by wagon trains, passed through Wyoming’s South Pass and was in regular use by the 1830s. The famous hunter and guide, Jim Bridger identified what is now known as Bridger Pass and used as a railroad route since the mid 1800s, then interstate 80 passed through it.
Wyoming was always a destination for trappers and buffalo hunters until the beaver and buffalo became scarce. Today Wyoming is known for cattle and sheep ranches.
The majestic Grand Teton mountain range is located in the northwestern area of the state, towering above Jackson Hole valley. The Grand Teton National Park is just south of Yellowstone, both created in the 1800s to preserve the natural beauty and wildlife of the area.
Unfortunately for Wyoming, there were no great discoveries of gold or silver as in neighboring Western states. Probably due to this, Wyoming has one of the lowest populations for a large Western state.
Native American Peoples
The state is also famous for the Powder River Country, home to the Sioux people which are comprised of seven related tribes of American native people. The seven tribes of the Sioux are:
• Si?há??u (Brulé, Burned Thighs)
• Oglála (“They Scatter Their Own”)
• Itázip?ho (Sans Arc, Without Bows)
• Hú?kpap?a (“End Village”, Camps at the End of the Camp Circle)
• Mnik?ówožu (“Plant beside the Stream”, Planters by the Water)
• Sihásapa (“Black Feet”)
• Oóhenu?pa (Two Kettles)
The Sioux play an important role in the history of the United States. As a proud people they fought often and for a long time to keep their hunting grounds and independence. There is over a hundred year famous legal battle between the Sioux and the government of the United States in which they claim ownership to the Black Hills region. Having won a suite many years ago, they refused to take the money and are holding out for the Black Hills which is a spiritual place for them. The money is sitting in an account gaining interest, but untouched by their tribe.
Red Cloud, an strong and influential Oglala chief during the 1800s, led his people in “Red Cloud’s War” against the United States in the Wyoming territory. The fighting was over control of the Powder River Country. The Sioux were victorious in this ware and the peace treaty signed in 1868 called, the Treaty of Fort Laramie, gave the Sioux control of the Powder River Country.
With the discovery of gold in the Black Hills region, more and more American settlers were moving into that area, violating the treaty, which included that region. This resulted in the Great Sioux War of 1876. This time, the US army came in force and caused the Sioux to surrender. The contrast between this war and Red Cloud’s War was that by 1876 many of the Sioux had settled on the reservations set aside for them. Only about 2,000 men fought this war out of 15,000. As a result of this war, the Sioux lost their beloved Black Hills and were relegated to the reservations.
Statehood and Suffrage
Wyoming became a state on July 25, 1868. Wyoming is particularly known for giving women the right to vote when it was still a territory and adopting that right into their constitution from the beginning. Other firsts in women’s suffrage include: the first female court bailiff, the first female justice of the peace in the country, and the first female governor, Nellie Ross, elected in 1924.
Other state facts include:
The first state to have a county public library system in Laramie
The first National Park – Yellowstone in 1872
The first National Forests – Shoshone National Forest in 1891
The first National Monument – Devils Tower
Evidence of human habitation dating back 7000 years, including the Bighorn Medicine Wheel