September is Wyoming’s Archaeology Awareness Month. In honor of this month, the Shoshone National Forest, Meeteetse Museums, and National Bighorn Sheep Center are working together to map trees with bighorn sheep skulls in them.
Mature ram skulls placed were placed in trees throughout this area by the Tukudika, or Sheep Eaters, as a shamanistic activity. The Tukudika are a band of Shoshone named after their primary food source, the bighorn sheep. Not only were the trees important to the Tukudika, but other neighboring tribes would leave offerings as they passed through the area.
In addition to the trees’ great age and natural decay, the increasing intensity of forest fires threatens these culturally important places. The Little Venus Forest Fire of 2006 in the Greybull River Valley burned at least one such tree.
In addition to their display at the Meeteetse Museums, maps can be found at the Cody Library, Meeteetse Library, Sunlight Sports in Cody, Sylvan Sports in Red Lodge, Hot Springs County Library in Thermopolis, National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, Pioneer Museum in Lander, and Wild Iris in Lander. Maps will be at each location for a full month. Maps will also be at the Archaeology Fair on September 25, 2021 at the Wyoming State Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming.