Woman donates Native American artifacts to Wyman Museum
It seems Western life is fading from America’s collective consciousness, but it doesn’t have to fade completely, Gail Hanley said.
Native American pottery, weapons, tools and arrowheads fill a section of glass cabinets at the Wyman Museum. Hanley recently donated many of the items.
The collection spans several parts of Native American culture, from ax blades used for hunting, building and war, to stone vegetable grinders and mortars used in everyday life.
The most valuable, Hanley guessed, is an Anasazi pinch pot, which her father found sometime about 1950 near Blanding, Utah, while working for a uranium prospecting company.
Everything originally was his, with some added artifacts from her uncle.
Her father, Wallace Perkins, always was slightly obsessed with the West, including his fascination with John Wayne.
“My dad used to go hunting, and he started collecting arrowheads,” said Hanley, 53, a Steamboat Springs resident. “Before long, we were all doing it. I grew up hunting arrowheads since I could barely walk.”
She followed her father in many of his passions.
Hanley’s husband, Dave, said one of her friends once described her this way: an only child with a mother who wanted a daughter and a father who wanted a son, who ended up being both.
“John Wayne is my idol,” Hanley said with a large grin.
She added that she felt such an attachment to the Native American works now on display in Craig that selling anything for a profit wasn’t an option.
“My dad’s basement was a museum, basically,” Hanley said. “It kind of went from one museum to another. I didn’t feel comfortable selling it. I’m sure it would be worth a small fortune; I just didn’t want to see it split up.”
She started looking for a place to display the things her father amassed throughout the years, initially beginning her search in Routt County with the Tread of Pioneers Museum in downtown Steamboat Springs.
However, the staff there said the artifacts would be out of place, since they were not found in Routt County.
Hanley said there was another place that instantly leapt into her mind, the museum run by Lou Wyman, whom she’d known for years.
“I ended up giving him a whole trailer full of stuff,” Hanley said. “He said he’d do my dad proud, and I think he did. That was the reason I decided to give it to Lou, so I could still visit it.”
Through the collection, she can remember a little of what the country is losing, what used to be her whole world as a child.
“Those were the good ol’ days,” Hanley said about time gone by, when country life was more country and less city. “My best memories are hunting, fishing and camping. It’s a shame the world isn’t so much like that anymore.”
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com.
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