U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Wyoming
 
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BLM Recreation Specialist Jo Foster demonstrates how to remove fat and excess flesh from a buffalo hide.
BLM Recreation Specialist Jo Foster demonstrates how to remove fat and excess flesh from a buffalo hide.
BLM Recreation Specialist Jo Foster explains how to tan hides at Frontier Days.
BLM Recreation Specialist Jo Foster explains how to tan hides at Frontier Days.

BLM Teaches Hide Tanning at Frontier Days in Rock Springs

By Terry Del Bene, Archaeologist, Rock Springs Field Office

Fourth Grade History Days, known locally as Frontier Days is a time to touch and be touched by things and events which have shaped modern life in Wyoming. Once again, Rock Springs Field Office staffers were on hand to help bring history to life.

This year, students followed a BLM staffer around a semicircle of chairs, distracted by the odd items on the floor. In the center of the circle was a buffalo skin, which wafted a gamey odor into the room. There were alternating exclamations of “Yuk!” and “Cool!” as the children passed by the hides. One student asked, “Is that real?” Another asked “Can I touch it?”

BLM staffers Jo Foster, Jessey Bunot, Jaci Wells, and Terry Del Bene participated in the history rendezvous at the Rock Springs Events Complex. The BLM has staffed the hide tanning display for the past seven years. Students were taught the steps in preparing a hide to become an article of clothing. Students worked together got to use replica stone scrapers to clean and prepare a hide.

The event featured a wide variety of educational tasks including gold panning, a general store, a school, mountain man instruction, Native American culture, and other topics. Each day began with a program on Wyoming history presented by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Students spent an entire day visiting one educational stop after another.

The hide tanning area was popular, though many of the children claimed the thought of touching the raw buffalo hide made them a little queasy. “I’ve only had one person get sick on me in the past seven years,” claimed BLM Recreation Specialist Jo Foster. She helped the students prepare the hide. She and explained to them what their roles would have been had they been lived in Wyoming during the remote past.

This group of fourth graders certainly enjoyed the experience. They threw themselves into the spirit of the rendezvous, many dressing the part, and are credited with make this year’s Frontier Days a success.


 
Last updated: 05-26-2010