In 1869 and 1871, John Wesley Powell led two expeditions from Wyoming Territory down the Green and Colorado rivers. These and other explorations brought him to a profound understanding of how the West’s aridity limits its economic prospects. He directed the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881-1894, and his ideas still affect land and water policy today.
People & Peoples
Browse Articles about People & Peoples
|Bellamy, Mary Godat||Wyoming Legislative Service Office|
|Big Horn River Pilot, early Thermopolis, Wyo. newspaper||Rebecca Hein|
|Big Sandy Crossing||WyoHistory.org|
|Bill Barlow’s Budget newspaper||Rebecca Hein|
|Blizzard of 1949||Rebecca Hein|
|Boarding Schools, Indian, in Wyoming and nationwide||Geoffrey O’Gara|
|Boissevain, Inez Milholland, suffragist and orator||Lesley Wischmann|
|Brazil, Pedro II, emperor of||Phil Roberts|
|Bridger, Jim||James A. Lowe, Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office|
|Brooks, Bryant||Wyoming State Archives|
People & Peoples
In 1905, Congress ratified an agreement with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho by which the tribes ceded 1.5 million acres of reservation land north of the Big Wind River. Tribal leaders questioned the final terms, however, and payments were slow in coming and fell far short of promised levels.
With the buffalo gone and poverty, hunger and disease increasing, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes came under intense pressure in the 1890s to sell their land. In 1896, they sold the U.S. government a piece of their reservation ten miles square—including the splendid hot springs at present Thermopolis, Wyo.
Congress in 1887 passed the Dawes Act, setting up a framework for dividing up tribal lands on reservations into plots to be held by individual Indian owners, after which they could be leased or sold to anyone. Critics saw it as a method clearly intended to transfer lands out of Indian hands.
Aven Nelson, one of the University of Wyoming’s original faculty, became a world famous botanist. He founded the Rocky Mountain Herbarium on campus, which contains 1.3 million plant specimens from throughout the world. From 1917-1922, he served as university president, but was happy to return to botany when he got the chance.
In the fall of 1918, the deadly influenza epidemic sweeping the world swept Wyoming as well when 780 people died statewide in just a few months, victims of the so-called Spanish flu. Schools, churches and theatres shut down, towns were quarantined and many businesses closed or severely limited their trade.
Mountaineer Finis Mitchell shared his love of the Wind River Range through postcards, public talks and a famed, hip-pocket hiking guide. He ran a fishing camp, worked on the railroad, stocked mountain lakes with fingerling trout and served in the Wyoming House of Representatives. Mitchell Peak was named in his honor.
In 1913, department-store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker and photographer Joseph Dixon hatched the idea of a statue of an American Indian in New York harbor higher than the Statue of Liberty—as a memorial to what they saw as a “vanishing race.” Dixon subsequently toured and photographed 89 Indian reservations—including Wyoming’s Shoshone Reservation—leaving a valuable record.
Just before sunset, on Oct. 31, 1903, a sheriff’s posse and a band of Oglala Sioux families from the Pine Ridge Reservation engaged in a brief, sharp gunfight near Lightning Creek, northeast of Douglas, Wyo. Seven people died, and a U.S. Senate investigation followed.