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Pioneer Museum opens exhibits on South Pass, ancient Indian pottery

Jul 31, 2016 From staff reports

In the first of two new exhibits, the Pioneer Museum in Lander examines pottery used by American Indians in Wyoming in the new display. There are a number of shards of actual pottery recovered by archeologists in Wyoming.

"Unfortunately, broken pieces are what are found," said curator Randy Wise. "It is rare that intact vessels are found, and the history of Wyoming pottery is still being figured out."

Pottery is an important part of many Southwestern American Indian cultures. While pottery was used by prehistoric people in Wyoming, the state is not known for its pottery.

The pottery exhibit is part of the American Indian section of the Lander museum, which has seen several new exhibits developed over the last year.

"Pottery was used by people in Wyoming, and while it wasn't as extensive as other places, it does help us understand people's lives from long ago," Wise said. According to Wise, several Southwestern styles of pottery have been found in southern Wyoming, probably arriving in the state as trade goods from other states.

The second new exhibit at the Pioneer Museum interprets the discovery of gold around South Pass that brought the first significant permanent population of white people to this part of Wyoming. As the gold played out, miners moved from the mountains to the valley to become farmers, ranchers and businessmen in the new town of Lander.

A new exhibit at the Pioneer Museum in Lander traces the South Pass gold boom from the discovery of gold in the 1840s, to the big booms of the 1870s, and the eventual bust that left the mining district full of ghost towns.

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