Ignore Texas and the rest of the country as it is today; just try to imagine the landscape devoid of massive infrastructure, where nature's claim on large swaths of this country's geography still stands in contrast to areas tamed by Native Americans.
Now, go back farther: imagine that the only way to travel was by foot. Horses in North America had disappeared some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, according to Canadian Geographic.
Such was the world in North America before Spain ushered in massive horse power, of the equine variety, onto the continent, triggering the beginning of a conflict-ridden shift in civilization and way of life.
The upcoming exhibit "Splendor on the Range: American Indians and the Horse" at the Witte Museum will display more than 300 artifacts demonstrating the profound effect the domesticated animal had on American Indian tribes on the Plains and in the Southwest. Those relics — some have never been seen before — include "moccasins, painted buffalo hides, saddles and Buffalo and Ghost Dance attire."
“This exhibit tells a beautiful, and at times, painful piece of history in a respectful way,” Bruce Shackelford, South Texas Heritage Curator, says in a press release. “We will be exhibiting artifacts that many people have not seen, and some dating back to when the museum first opened.”
Throughout the exhibit, which runs from March 5 through August 21 in the Kathleen and Curtis Gunn Gallery, the Witte will offer public programs, including a Louis A. and Frances B. Wagner Series presentation with Shackelford and Dr. Daniel Gelo, professor and dean of the Department of Anthropology at UTSA called the "Fort Parker Raid Revisited," on Wednesday, March 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; a "Splendor on the Range: American Indians and the Horse" Time Travel Saturday Family Day on Saturday, April 9, from noon to 4 p.m.; and two new options for the Witte Museum Spring Break Camp, including a "Splendor on the Range" camp Monday, March 14 through Friday, March 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. For more info, call (210) 357-1910.
“Splendor on the Range is a wonderful example of what the Witte embodies,” Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum, says. “It shares a stunning narrative of Texas and the Plains, but also shows how one animal led to dramatic changes in the American West – changes which you can see here in Texas today.”
Admission for "Splendor on the Range: American Indians and the Horse" is $3 for members and $5 for nonmembers, plus general admission. For more info, call (210) 357-1900 or visit the Witte Museum online