Cody – the Wild West
Our last night in Yellowstone was
watching a grizzly bear playing with her 2 cubs – a magical
(too dark and distant to photograph successfully). For a return
to 'civilisation', we went to Cody.
Buffalo Bill got his nickname hunting Bison while scouting for US Army patrols, he became a massive entertainer – he played to a crowd of 20,000 in London and then at Windsor Castle.
Buffalo Bill's show had Buck Thomas who could 'ride any horse'. A wild horse was brought for him and the story goes that he caught it by it's two front feet, the horse somersaulted and by the time it was back on it's feet it had bridle, saddle and rider.
The Wild West Centre also has poignant quotes from Indians to demonstrate various ways in which Americans tried to wipe them out:
-Slaughter – a woman was shot dead near the truce flag, her infant, unaware, continued to suckle.
-Loss of lands - “crowded back yearly – I prefer to die fighting than by starvation”, Red Cloud 1866.
-Direct starvation - “White man hired hunters to do nothing but kill buffalo” as buffalo was the main food for Indians.
-Disease - “Many have died of diseases we have no name for. Our hearts looked and longed for this country where we were born”. Little Wolf 1879
Indian opinion of missionaries, “We have kept the laws we made and lived our religion. We have never been able to understand the white man who fools nobody but himself.” Plenty Coups 1928
Buffalo Bill was not what we expected. He negotiated peace between Indian Chiefs and advocated votes for women and Indians – a surprising liberal.
To round off our cowboy day, we went to the rodeo.
The rodeo opened with a very patriotic prayer, followed, of course. By the National Anthem. Events included under 12 bull riding, adult bull and horse riding, horse racing and lassoing events. Our favourite was all the under 12 children being invited down to chase two bullocks to pull a ribbon off their tail. The arena floor was dirt, but by then it was not all dirt as one dainty girl in sandals realised and promptly walked back to her seat. There were a lot of children and the chase ensued. We couldn't stop laughing – they breed them tough in the US.
not for the faint hearted
A complete change of scenery for us, the competitors in this pro-rodeo superstar arena compete every night for 90 days and our cowboy day was most enjoyable, even the sprinklers over the pavement as we rode our trusty steeds (Walmart $80!) back past the deer in town.