The Wyoming State Museum is restoring an elaborately beaded American Indian horse mask to prepare it for public display within the next year.
Mandy Langfald, curator of collections at the museum in Cheyenne, said Wednesday the Lakota Sioux mask dates to between 1897 and 1910. She said it's one of fewer than 50 such historic masks that survive from American Indian tribes around the West.
"They started, they believe, when the Spanish conquistadors came through, because they had armor on their horses," Langfald said of the Indians' practice of making masks for their own horses.
The mask, made of buffalo hide, is fully covered with tiny venetian beads and features designs of both American flags and stars. Langfald said the mask is unusual because it's so large, designed to extend far down a horse's neck.
The museum acquired the mask in 1958. Langfald said it had belonged to Wyoming native John Shangreaux.
According to information Langfald provided, Shangreaux was born at Ft. Laramie in the 1850s to Mary Smoke, daughter of the Oglala Sioux chief, Old Smoke. After serving as a scout for the Indian fighter Gen. George Crook, Shangreaux worked as an interpreter for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He later settled as a trader on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He died in 1926.
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