The Bison: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture is the C.M. Russell Museum's newest permanent exhibition.
"This exhibition examines the interplay between the bison and the Indians, as well as Charlie Russell's relationship with both," stated Anne Morand, chief curator.
The Bison features over a 1000 objects, including Northern Plains Indian artifacts such as clothing, regalia, tools, and weapons with a wide variety of objects crafted from bison and works of art can also be seen in the exhibition. This comprehensive exhibition addresses the crucial historical and cultural role of bison, for all people, in the Northern Plains between 1800 and 2008. It also examines the ways in which this impressive animal has emerged an an American icon.
The importance of The Bisonis a critical part of the rich shared cultural heritage in Montana and the region. This exhibition examines the bison's importance not only in the lives of Plains Indians, but to a growing 19th-century economy; addressing the animal's sudden decimation and eventual resurgence. With regard to the Northern Plains, the exhibition traces the bison's transformation from everyday resource to iconic symbol, a shift that began to gain strength during the early reservation period in the late 19th-century. The exhibition traces a period of intense "consumption" of bison as a natural resource by new and growing populations, as well as a conservation movement, and development of the bison as a symbol of North America.