Last week, the students in Expansion of the United States took a field trip to Cheekwood and its exhibit, Visions of the American West: Masterworks from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Rooms were filled with artifacts such as period dress of pioneer and Native American women; pieces from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show; and work by numerous artists, including Frederic Remington.
The rooms of the mansion’s upper floor were dedicated to Fine Arts; Horse Culture; Plains Indians; Women of the West; and Cowboy Culture. In addition, the outlying garage and stable area was devoted to the life of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. However, most students favored the room featuring Firearms. Here, they saw a Hawken rifle used by mountain men; a Gatling Gun; pistols worn on the hips of lawmen and outlaws; a rifle found in the aftermath of the Battle of Little Big Horn; and a rifle owned by George Armstrong Custer.
Hopefully, the artifacts brought the American West to life for the students and will help them understand the information we discuss in class. If not, then at least I know something stuck with them. On the way back to campus, I asked what they had learned, and, in unison, they replied that pineapples are a symbol of hospitality. Please, do not ask how that bit of information surfaced.