Top 25 Entries
TYPE: 3 Dimensional Object
IMPACT LOCATION: Region
Artifact description (100 words or less):
Large Bighorn Sheep’s head (skull) with pine tree around it. Collected on the southeast side of Whiskey Mountain around 1932 by John R. Boardman at an altitude of about 9,000 ft. This location is about 5-10 miles southeast of Dubois, Wyoming. The skull was about 10 feet from the ground when it was discovered. A two-horse sled was constructed to haul it down the mountain.
Artifact significance/Relation to Wyoming History. (200 words or less):
The skull with horns of a Bighorn Sheep ram placed in the branch of a pine tree may have been part of a ritual given in Thanksgiving for a “successful hunt”. As the tree grew, the skull and horns were gradually enclosed.
According to Dr. George Frison, University of Wyoming Archeology Department, this skull is 1 of 8-10 known examples of a ram’s head used as part of a hunting ritual by early native inhabitants of the area, but we may never know for certain why these skulls were placed in the trees. The tree has not been dated but could be with modern techniques.
Western Wyoming from around Dubois to Cody has over twenty known Bighorn Sheep traps, evidence of early people known as Sheepeaters or Mountain Shoshone inhabiting the areas and utilizing the available resources. It could be likely that the Bighorn Sheep skulls that have been found in trees may be related to bighorn sheep traps as something ceremonial to the individuals that lived in the area.
The Dubois Museum also has another similar specimen, only it was found about 30 miles northeast of Dubois in 1926 and is currently on loan to the Dubois Museum.