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Wyoming

State History

Native Americans

People have lived in the land of Wyoming for thousands of years. The first people were called the Paleo-Indians. By the time the Europeans arrived the land was inhabited by a large number of Native American tribes. Some of the major tribes were the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Ute, and Shoshone. They relied heavily on the buffalo for food, shelter, tools, clothing, and more. They lived in tepees that could be easily moved as they followed the giant buffalo herds.



Grand Teton National Park by Jon Sullivan

Throughout the 1700s and early 1800s various countries laid claim to the land including Spain, France, Great Britain, Mexico, and the United States. However, few Europeans ventured in the territory and it was still largely ruled by the Native American tribes.

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. A large part of Wyoming was included in the land.

The First Europeans Arrive

The first white man to enter Wyoming was explorer John Colter in 1807. He was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition who went off from the main expedition to explore on his own. He discovered the great geysers of Yellowstone and became famous with his stories of the region. The land became known as Colter's Hell because of the steam and heat that came from the ground.

In the next few years to come, fur traders and trappers came to Wyoming hoping to find new areas to trap valuable furs that could be sold for clothing.

Settling the Land

The first permanent settlement in Wyoming was Fort Laramie which was established in 1834. In the mid-1800s people began to travel through Wyoming on their way west along the Oregon Trail. Trading posts and small towns grew up along the trail. Several hundred thousand people traveled through Wyoming between 1840 and 1870. The Pony Express also ran through Wyoming in 1860, but it was quickly replaced by the telegraph.



Fort Laramie by Alfred Jacob Miller

Wild West

With the arrival of the railroad in the 1860s many more people began to settle the area, but Wyoming was still largely unpopulated and there was little in the way of government or law. It was a part of the Wild West. Famous outlaws like Butch Cassidy hid out in Wyoming towns and robbed trains. Much of the land became cattle ranching land where cowboys lived working the herds.

At the same time, the local Native Americans were not happy with the white man taking over their land. They began to fight back. The Lakota and Cheyenne Indians led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse organized and fought against the U.S. in Red Cloud's War. They lost the war and were eventually forced into reservations.

Becoming a State

The United States gained the southwest region of Wyoming from Great Britain in 1846 as part of the Oregon Treaty. The land became part of the Wyoming Territory in 1869. Eleven years later, on July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state.



Casper, Wyoming by Adbay

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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