Celebrate the Women Who Helped Settle the American West
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame highlight the women who played a vital role in settling the American West.
Tammi Arender takes us inside the museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Started in 1975 in Hereford TX and quickly outgrew its roots. Search was made so it could grow and several cities put out bids and FW was the best opportunity for growth and influence.”
The 33,000 square-foot National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is on the ground of the Will Rogers Memorial Complex in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District.
“One of the reasons his museum is so important it because it looks at the history of the American west from a different lens. So often we think of the west as the male mythic “how the west was won” and that just leaves out so many voice. So we stand as an institution to let people that women are part of that story.”
Diana Vela is the Associate Executive Director of the Museum. She says many females have played integral roles in shaping the American West. It is not just about those who ride and compete in Western sports and rodeos. The 243 national honorees include pioneers, artists, writers, entertainers, humanitarians, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls.
“One of the things that we look for after coming and experiencing the variety of voices that went into the west. The folks from different industries or people who really got involved in horses and therapy or folks at the beginning of equine therapy we hope they walk away understanding that there are lot of voices that shape who we are in the American west. When you walk into the museum you’re greeted by this mobile. It has more than 200 parts. And I like to think of it as a visual anthology. It’s got honorees and the movement literally shows you how dynamic we are. There’s always movement and very reflective of who we are.”
The Museum and Hall of Fame delves deep into the history of western heritage. From Sacagawea, principal guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition to Annie Oakley. It then moves on to modern day with those who continue to carry that torch no matter what hat they wear.
“So we’re not just looking for local but we’re sometimes looking for national and international so often times this entire process can take years we have some people nominated 10 years ago and not yet in. we have 300 nominations in holding.”
To be nominated and get your name on the wall is not an easy feat. Once someone fills out a nomination application, there are three committees that get to work doing the due diligence.
“To become an inductee you fill out an application on our website it’s a very long form and in addition we do our own research and background checks and then three different committees. Outside or a connection to the western industry somehow.”
It is also a very interactive museum. You can click on the kiosk at each display station and get all the details of that inductee. Like Lindy Burch, known for her accomplishments in the cutting horse world.
"...in the American West.”