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Resounds: Yellowstone County Museum

courtesy Yellowstone County Museum
Yellowstone County Museum

In 2019, the Yellowstone County Museum celebrated their 65-year anniversary. The museum is housed in a small wooden cabin atop the Rimrocks across from the Logan International Airport in Billings. Executive Director Terry Steiner and Joe McGeshick from the Native American Achievement Center at MSUB joined Resounds hosts Corby Skinner and Anna Paige in the studio to discuss the history of the museum and the vast collection of western artifacts.

Waiting for the Earth to Move: The 1890 Ghost Dance is one of the museums most valuable and important exhibitions.

Inspired by a Northern Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka, the Ghost Dance was a religious movement designed as a way to bring the buffalo back to the plains and to end the expansion of the white man in the West. Within two years, the Ghost Dance spread rapidly, reaching many Northwest Plains groups.

Ghost Dances took place for five or six consecutive nights with dancers adorned with solemn painted designs on their faces and bodies. All dancers formed a big circle, holding hands or draping their arms over each other’s shoulders, shuffling from side to side. The spiritual dance had no restrictions of age or sex. The dance followed the pace set by the slowest participant, often a young child or elder.

The exhibit displays Ghost Dance shirts, dresses, drums, shields, pipes, a mink rattle, prayer staff, and bags. The objects are on loan from Billings native Larry Williams. This is the most extensive public exhibition of Ghost Dance artifacts in the world.

Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.
Anna Paige is a poet and educator and co-founder of Billings Area Literary Arts, created from a desire to connect writers to one another and grow the literary community of Billings.