As Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a changin’” and they’re changing pretty quickly at that. That’s why it’s important to take a good look around every once in a while. Look up from your phone. Step away from the laptop. Take a breath. Progress isn’t always about going forward. Quite often, it requires a visit to the past.
People and places that work to preserve the pioneer heritage and cowboy culture are part of that glimpse into days gone by. It’s this preservation that ensures we continue to value what those before us have done so we can continue to change and build the world around us.
Here are some groups that are working to ensure pioneer heritage and cowboy culture continue to stay with us in some shape or form long after our smart phones have died and our eyes have grown tired.
National Day of the Cowboy: In 2005, the organization National Day of the Cowboy (NDOC), sponsored a bill in the Wyoming House and Senate to preserve and celebrate cowboy culture and history in that state and named a holiday after the group to be observed on the fourth Saturday in July. The bill passed and, since then, other states have passed NDOC in their legislatures too. As of the end of July 2019, 15 states had passed the bill. They work to raise awareness and enthusiasm for things like rodeos, cowboy history museums, and country fairs featuring roping demonstrations to make sure the cowboy image never dies.
National Cowboy Symposium: A non-profit organization, this group’s goal is to preserve Western heritage and cowboy culture. It does by producing an annual National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration® event where it invites people to come together to celebrate Western heritage and cowboy culture for those who know and love it, and introduces new audiences to the heritage and culture so they may embrace it as well. The event is filled with music, poetry, storytelling, horse-handling demonstrations, and much more.
National Park Service Cultural Resources: National Park Service archeologists, architects, curators, historians, and other cultural resource professionals work to preserve, protect, and share the history of this land and its people. The NPS is part of a national preservation partnership working with American Indian Tribes, states, local governments, nonprofit organizations, historic property owners, and others who believe in the importance of shared heritage and its preservation.
Pioneer Heritage Centers/Foundations: Many states have museums, cultural centers and foundations dedicated to the region’s pioneers. For example, in North Dakota, the Pioneer Heritage Center covers the pioneering history of the northeast part of the state between 1870-1920, as well as the local ecology; the Pioneer Museum of Alabama is dedicated to preserving and presenting its unique collection of historical buildings, structures, and exhibits to advance a greater knowledge and appreciation of the past; The Ogden Pioneer Days Foundation, a Utah organization, celebrates Ogden’s pioneer and western heritage. Its goal is to create an environment to honor, preserve and promote this heritage through educational and entertainment experiences; and The California Pioneer Heritage Foundation focuses on early California pioneers of the late 1840s and early 1850s. It’s intended to give proper recognition to the contributions made by them in settling and developing early California.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about how cowboy culture and pioneer heritage are being preserved in your area, a quick Google search will provide some answers. So – see – laptops and smart phones do have their place.