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Wyoming is one of the largest states of the U.S. by area and yet one of the least populous. The western half of the state is almost entirely covered by the Rocky Mountains while its eastern half is a high-elevation prairie known as the ‘High Plains’. Wyoming’s economy is driven by mineral extraction, tourism and agriculture, which are its main commodities.
Wyoming took a step ahead of the other states by being the first to allow women to vote, a great achievement that symbolized the early victories of the women’s suffrage movement in America. Home to many beautiful sights and part of the Yellowstone National Park, one of the most well-known and popular parks in U.S.A., Wyoming joined the Union as the 44th state in July 1890. Let’s take a look at some important state symbols of Wyoming that have been adopted since.
Flag of Wyoming
Wyoming’s state flag displays a silhouette of the American bison facing the staff, superimposed on a dark blue field with a white inner border and a red outer one. The red border represents the Native Americans who lived on the land before the settlers came and it also represents the blood of the pioneers who gave their own lives to claim the land.
The white border symbolizes uprightness and purity and the blue background signifies the skies and the distant mountains. It’s also symbolic of justice, fidelity and virility. The bison symbolizes the local fauna while the seal on its body symbolizes the tradition of branding livestock. Designed by 23-year-old art student Verna Keays, the present flag was adopted by the state legislature in 1917.
Great Seal of the State of Wyoming
Officially adopted by the second state legislature in 1893, the seal of Wyoming features a draped figure in the center holding a staff from which a banner flows with the state motto: ‘Equal Rights’ written on it. This represents the political status that women in Wyoming have had since 1869.
On either side of the draped figure are two male figures which represent the mining industries and livestock of the state. There are two pillars in the background, each with a lamp on it signifying the ‘Light of Knowledge’.
Each pillar is wrapped with scrolls bearing the words ‘LIVESTOCK’ and ‘GRAIN’ (right), and ‘MINES’ and ‘OIL’ (left), which are four of the state’s major industries.
At the bottom of the seal are two dates: 1869, the year the Territorial government was organized and 1890, the year Wyoming achieved statehood.
State Mammal: Bison
The American bison, famously known as the American buffalo or just ‘buffalo’, is a species of bison that’s native to North America. It has been of great importance throughout the history of America, unlike any other wild animal. The Native Americans depended on the bison for shelter, food and clothing and it was also a symbol of strength, survival and good health.
The American bison was designated as the official mammal of the state of Wyoming in 1985 and it can be seen featured on the official flag of the state. Today, it continues to be a highly respected and sacred animal among the Native Americans.
The Bucking Horse and Rider
The Bucking Horse and Rider is a trademark that’s said to have originated back in 1918, but some believe that it originated earlier. However, its use in Wyoming dates back to 1918 and the credit for its design was given to George N. Ostrom of E Battery. It was used during the World War 1 as an insignia, worn by those in the Wyoming National Guard in Germany and France. The trademark is the registered trademark of the state of Wyoming, owned by the state and it’s also featured on the state quarter. The famous bucking bronco and rider symbol is still used on the soldiers’ uniforms of the Wyoming National Guard.
State Reptile: Horned Toad
The horned toad isn’t actually a toad but a lizard belonging to the iguana family with a round shape similar to that of a toad, a short tail and short legs. These lizards look intimidating because of the spines on their head and the sides of their body, but they’re surprisingly gentle and docile in nature. They feed on all kinds of insects including ants and when they’re frightened they can flatten their bodies and freeze in one place, blending with ground. They also have the shocking ability to shoot blood out from the corners of their eyes, spraying their intruders. The horned toad was adopted as the official state reptile of Wyoming in 1993 and is often referred to as an important state symbol.
State Gemstone: Jade
Jade (nephrite), is an ornamental compact and opaque mineral, known for its beautiful colors ranging from dark green to an extremely pale green that’s almost white. Jade is formed through metamorphism which means that it started out as another type of rock but changed over time to another form due to high heat, pressure, hot fluids rich in minerals or a combination of these.
Jade is found throughout the state of Wyoming and some of the best jade in the U.S. come from the soil and alluvial fans around Jeffrey City. When jade was first discovered in Wyoming back in the 1930s, it caused a ‘jade rush’ that lasted for several decades. In 1967, jade was designated as the official state gemstone of Wyoming.
State Flower: Indian Paintbrush
The Indian paintbrush, adopted as the official state flower of Wyoming back in 1917, is a type of perennial herbaceous plant that’s native to west America. The spiky flowers of the Indian paintbrush were used by the Native American tribes as condiments and the Ojibwe used it to make a type of shampoo that’s said to have left their hair voluminous and glossy. It also has medicinal properties and was popularly used in the treatment of rheumatism.
Also called the ‘prairie fire’, the Indian paintbrush is commonly found growing on arid plains and rocky slopes, associated with pinyon pine, sagebrush scrub or juniper woodland. Its flower was named the official flower of the state of Wyoming in 1917.
The Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel, also known as Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark, is a huge stone structure made up of white limestone laid on a bedrock of more limestone situated in the Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming. The structure dates back over 10,000 years and so far, no one has claimed to have built it. The Crow tribe of Wyoming stated that the Medicine Wheel was already there when they came to live in the area, so they believe that it was giving to them by the Creator.
The Medicine Wheel was and still is a much respected and sacred site to numerous people of many nations and in 1970, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.
Sacajawea Golden Dollar
The Sacajawea golden dollar is the state coin of Wyoming, officially adopted in 2004. The coin depicts the image of Sacajawea, a Shoshone woman who was of great assistance to the Lewis and Clark expedition, a journey she made with her son on her back. She was only 15 years old and six months pregnant at the time and despite potential limitations, she was able to guide the adventurers and help them to communicate with her people. She was also responsible for saving Captain’s Clarks journal the moment their boat capsized. If she hadn’t, a large part of the first year record of the expedition would have been lost forever.
State Sport: Rodeo
Rodeo is an equestrian sport that originated in Mexico and Spain from the practice of cattle herding. Over time, it expanded throughout the U.S.A. and to other countries. Today, rodeo is an extremely competitive sporting event which involves mainly horses but other livestock as well, specially designed to test the speed and skills of cowgirls and cowboys. American style rodeos consist of several events such as: down roping, bull riding, barrel racing and steer wrestling.
Rodeo was made the official state sport of Wyoming in 2003 and the largest outdoor rodeo in the world is held every year in Wyoming’s capital city Cheyenne.
State Tree: Plains Cottonwood Tree
The plains cottonwood, also known as necklace poplar, is a large cottonwood poplar tree known to be one of the largest hardwood trees in North America. An extremely fast-growing tree, the plains cottonwood grows up to 60 m tall with trunk diameter of 9 feet. The wood of these trees is soft and doesn’t weighh much, which is why it’s usually utilized for interior furniture parts and plywood.
During the 1868 winter campaign, General Custer fed the bark of the plains cottonwood tree to his horses and mules and cowboys made tea from its inner bark to relieve gastric disorders. It was adopted as the official state tree of Wyoming in 1947.
State Dinosaur: Triceratops
The Triceratops is an herbivorous dinosaur that first appeared around 68 million years ago in the land we now know as North America. With its three horns, large bony frill and four-legged body resembling that of a rhinoceros, the Triceratops is one of the easiest dinosaurs to recognize. It’s said that this iconic dinosaur lived on the land that’s now Wyoming during the Cretaceous Period over 65 million years ago since many triceratops remains have been found in the area. In 1994, the state legislature of Wyoming adopted the triceratops as the official state dinosaur.
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