Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site opens

Immerses visitors in Indigenous culture

The new Cultural Center at Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site opened on April 27. Located in Hyattville, Medicine Lodge is Big Horn County’s only state park. Inside the new center, visitors can experience life dated 10,000 years ago.
Wyoming State Parks District Manager Brooks Jordan explained that the immersion is both historical and present day. “We present an opportunity to not only learn about but also connect with Native people.”
The first room sets the tone. The lights lower and the voice of an indigenous man says, “Welcome to this sacred site, referred to as Medicine Lodge.” The voice then tells visitors they are entering to the “sound of the drum, which represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth.” The beating drums, video images and voices tell the story of each season as visitors move from room to room.
Park Superintendent Heather Jolley said the goal of the new experience was to “make people feel” throughout the interactive exhibit--to feel what life was like 10,000 years ago at Medicine Lodge, to feel the spirit of the site. “This exhibit is exceptionally unique because it guides you through a journey rather than presenting information in a traditional museum format.”
MauRena Scott of Basin, who visited the center with her husband Dan and niece Roni, was moved to tears by the exhibit. “I could feel those who were here before me. I could feel healing.”
“Each of the season rooms were so different, and you feel like you are experiencing the seasons from winter to summer.”
The last room features recorded testimonials from members of the Eastern Shoshone, Crow and Northern Arapaho tribes. Ivan Posey is one of the featured indigenous people. He is the tribal education coordinator at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. Posey also played a part in the grand opening. He said that the exhibit was well done and will help people understand the long history of Medicine Lodge.
Wyoming State Parks Director Dave Glenn, Jordan and Jolley have welcomed visitors such as Wyoming Senator Ed Cooper and Representative John Winter.
Cooper said the exhibit is very educational and something every school kid in Wyoming should see. “The entire site at Medicine Lodge is an important part of Wyoming history.”
Winter also expressed the importance of the state park and its role in teaching and preserving the past.
Jordan noted the center was made possible by a generous $600,000 grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
“I’d like to thank the folks that we worked with closely from the reservation and elsewhere. This really is something that couldn’t have happened without the input and involvement of tribal people and people representing indigenous cultures,” said Jordan.
Summer hours are Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. However, hours may change depending on staff availability.
The tour takes 15-20 minutes. Those wanting to experience the exhibit may call to verify if it is open. Special tours are welcome. Call 307-469-2234 for more information.