Symposium Session 12

9:10-10:30 AM Session 12: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Public Memory
Douglas Seefeldt, Chair

Laura J. Arata, Mickey Mouse Cowboys: Memory, Authenticity, and Disney’s Wild West

It is tempting to write off the Disneyland, Paris, “Legend of Buffalo Bill” dinner show as commodified kitsch. But Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was always strategically staged in negotiation with popular conceptions of the “authentic” west. This paper uses family history to explore authenticity and memory in Disney’s Wild West.

Laura J. Arata is Assistant Professor of History at Oklahoma State University. Her recent article, “Terror and Tourism: Lynching, Legend, and the Montana Vigilantes,” appeared in Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Her forthcoming book is titled Race and the Wild West: Sarah Bickford and the Legend of Virginia City, Montana, 1870–1930.

Shannon Murray, Celebration, not Re-Creation: Indian Village at the Calgary Stampede

Indian Village is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Calgary Stampede, founded by Guy Weadick and Flores LaDue in September, 1912 after the pair had worked the American Wild West circuit for decades. Though many assume an inauthentic re-enactment zone, the Village is actually the result of a 105-year partnership between the Stampede and families from Treaty 7 nations. This paper speaks to the ways that partnership went against the restrictive and assimilation-oriented Indian Act and argues that the Stampede has been (and continues to be) a safe place for First Nations peoples from Treaty 7 territory to celebrate, share, and preserve their cultures.

Shannon Murray is Program Coordinator, Indian Village and Sweetgrass Lodge at the Calgary Stampede and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. At the 2017 Stampede, she facilitated hosting all seven chiefs from Treaty 7 territory as Parade Marshals and toured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau through Indian Village.

Alyce Webb, Pawnee Bill’s Original Wild West Show: Education and Community Across 130 Years

At the turn of the century, Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West performed for audiences in the urban east. Today, staff and volunteers of the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum in Pawnee, Oklahoma, continue to educate visitors about the legacy of the West, and in the process create strong community ties.

Alyce Webb is a PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University. Her dissertation, “The Race of Races,” explores ethnicity, gender, class, and performance in Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West. She plays a small but enthusiastic role in the annual recreation of the show every June.