Picture the quintessential American West, characterized by its rugged landscapes and the majestic horses that once served as companions to the region’s pioneers. Today, these wild horses find a steadfast ally in the form of the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary, diligently overseen by Jess Oldham and his family.

“We simply provide them with the expanse to be themselves,” he says. “Yet, in doing so, we inadvertently foster the well-being of the entire ecosystem.”

In the heart of Wyoming’s untamed beauty lies a sanctuary for the wild, where vulnerability meets refuge. Jess and his family are the custodians of the Sanctuary, a haven ensuring that Wyoming’s wild horses not only have ample space but also the freedom to roam unrestricted. Venture to the sanctuary, witness the harmony, meet the Oldhams and delve into the stories of the horses it embraces.

Jess Oldham and his family are the custodians of the Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary, a haven for the horses to roam and thrive. Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Office of Tourism

For more information on Wyoming, visit TravelWyoming.com.

Miracle Seminole walks into her workshop and pauses before picking up brightly colored fabrics. In the Native American tradition, Miracle must begin with prayer and maintain positive and affirming thoughts while she is bringing a quilt to life.

Miracle learned the patient skills of selecting fabrics for the traditional eight-sided stars and how to put together the materials to form a quilt meant for warmth and comfort from her mother. Her mother continues to impress upon her the importance of putting good thoughts into the blankets, knowing they will be a blessing to the person receiving it.

The traditional star is always the starting place for each blanket. The sides represent the cardinal directions of north, south, east and west, as well as the four stages of life – infancy, youth, maturity and old age. From there, she works out towards the edges of the blanket.

In total, a blanket takes about two weeks to be designed and assembled. All the while, Miracle is pouring her positive thoughts into the materials.For more information on Miracle and her quilts, visit https://windriver.org/miracle-designs/.

Miracle Seminole learned the art of traditional Native American quilting from her mother, and each of her quilts begins with prayer and affirming thoughts. Photo courtesy of Miracle Seminole

For more information on Wind River Country, visit WindRiver.org.

Snake River Wine Tours, owned and operated by Samantha Maxey, is southwestern Idaho’s premier wine tour operator. Due to Samantha’s incredible taste for hospitality, hard work and ability to make friends everywhere, Snake River Wine Tours was voted the #1 Best Wine Tour in the North America by USA Today in 2022 and 2023.

After moving to Marsing, Idaho, from the Midwest to be with her husband in 2016, Samantha got a job in the local hospitality industry at a winery. Over the next year, Samantha created personal Idaho wine country tours for family and friends, and quickly recognized the opportunity to turn her passion into a full-blown business. Taking that leap of faith in 2018, she launched Snake River Wine Tours with the purchase of their first Sprinter Van, and she quickly became an influential entrepreneur in Southwest Idaho.

Samantha now offers tours to over 20 wineries in the Snake River Valley Wine Region, each offering exceptional wines and unique tasting experiences in one of three vans in her fleet. Samantha takes exceptional pride in her guests’ experience and focuses on what’s most important: their wine tour experience. Meet Samantha and explore Idaho wines during your Southwest Idaho visit.

Owned and operated by Samantha Maxey, Snake River Wine Tours is southwestern Idaho’s premier wine tour operator, offering tours to over 20 wineries in the Snake River Valley Wine Region. Photo courtesy of Southwest Idaho Travel Association

For more information on Southwest Idaho, visit VisitSouthwestIdaho.org.

Randy’L Teton is a Shoshone-Bannock tribal member from the Fort Hall Reservation in southeastern Idaho. Teton attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art history with a minor in Native American studies.

While in college, Teton was chosen as a model for a new coin by New Mexico artist Glenna Goodacre. In 2000, the United States Mint released the new Golden Dollar coin to honor Sacajawea, a Shoshone girl from Salmon, Idaho, who guided the “Corps of Discovery” known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. Sacajawea became the first Indigenous woman on a U.S. coin, and according to the U. S. Mint, Randy’L is the youngest and only living model on U.S. currency.

Teton traveled the country promoting the Sacajawea dollar and Sacajawea’s story. One of the things she loves about promoting the Sacajawea coin is teaching others about the historical and modern history of Native Americans and breaking down common stereotypes of American Indians and women. In addition, Teton recently wrote a children’s graphic novel, “It’s Her Story: Sacajawea,” about Sacajawea’s journey from a tribal perspective.

Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Randy’L Teton posed as the model for the U.S. Sacajawea Golden Dollar, and is the youngest and only living model on U.S. currency. Photo courtesy of Southeast Idaho High Country Tourism

For more information on Southeast Idaho, please visit IdahoHighCountry.org.

Lyndy Ireland is the sixth-generation owner of the Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast working ranch, which is located just outside Badlands National Park. The main home, built by Lyndy’s great-grandparents, proudly boasts a four-bedroom house – renovated by Lyndy and her husband, Kenny – a separate bunkhouse and a new cabin.

Lyndy and her daughter are the friendly faces guests will see at the ranch as they prepare a warm breakfast before guests set out on a day of hiking or exploring the ranch and petting the animals. As her 28th year as owner approaches, Lyndy says her passion for hospitality is stronger than ever. She enjoys welcoming guests from all over the world and sharing her family’s story along with learning about the visitors themselves. One thing is for certain: You will leave feeling much more like family than a guest.

Lyndy Ireland is the sixth-generation owner of the Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast, a working ranch where you will come as a guest and leave feeling like family. Photo courtesy of Travel South Dakota

For more information on South Dakota, visit TravelSouthDakota.com.

James F. Jackson, a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow, is widely considered the finest leather carver in the world. James, who carves in the celebrated “Sheridan Style” of leather tooling, honed his craft at the iconic King Ropes & Saddlery in downtown Sheridan, Wyoming, before taking up residence at the new leather workshop at The Brinton Museum.

James’ impact on the culture of leathercraft is so widespread that he is famed the world over – in fact, in Japan, where James is particularly celebrated, the predominant style of carving is the “Sheridan Style,” thanks to the contributions of this humble artist along with those of icons Don King, Chester Heap, Otto F. Ernst, and modern mavericks Barry King, Ryan King and Joe Smith.

Sheridan Travel & Tourism recently traveled to Japan with James, where the team witnessed firsthand how impactful James’ work has been on this historic artform; dozens of craftspeople from workshops across the country were eager to share their work with our local legend.

James F. Jackson, widely considered the finest leather carver in the world, honed his considerable skill right in downtown Sheriday, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism

For more information on Sheridan, visit SheridanWyoming.org.

Del Iron Cloud is an accomplished acrylic and watercolor artist who brings vibrant Native American scenes to life, drawing inspiration from historic books and the local environment. Del’s artistic journey began at a young age when he created his first mural on the backside of his grandmother’s door with crayons – a race car scene that, unfortunately, had to be scrubbed off.

Throughout school, Del’s passion for art flourished with the encouragement of peers and a teacher who introduced him to the Institute of American Arts in Santa Fe. However, after two years, Del realized the contemporary focus of the school didn’t align with his love for realism, a style rooted in his admiration for artists like Michelangelo and Da Vinci. He then pursued his art education at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

While in Chicago, Del enlisted in the United States Air Force and served in Vietnam. His artistic talent didn’t go unnoticed, leading to opportunities within the Air Force to create murals throughout the building.

Today, Del creates from a studio space in Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries. Visitors can meet him during the summer, watch him create and browse his artwork displayed throughout the store.

You can watch Del Iron Cloud create his acrylic and watercolor masterpieces at his studio space in Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo courtesy of Visit Rapid City

For more information on Rapid City, visit VisitRapidCity.com.

Patricia Mabin is the founder of Pemmican Patty Food Company, a North Dakota Native American-owned business. Her goal is to support healthy lifestyles, while preserving Metis and Ojibway traditions.

Growing up outside the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, she felt disconnected from her culture, and she desired to reconnect with her roots and share them with others. After working entry-level, low-paying jobs all her life, she wanted something more meaningful that would honor her mother’s advice to be proud of her Native American and Metis heritage. She also wanted to honor the entrepreneurial spirit her people showed when they adapted to changing circumstances and created new opportunities for themselves and future generations.

Pemmican Patty food products are inspired by family tradition; the Native ways of her grandparents and ancestors; and the desire to revive the glory of pemmican, a food that sustained her people for centuries and almost disappeared like the buffalo. Pemmican Patty products use natural ingredients that reflect her culture and history, such as maple water, bison and berries. They are healthy, clean and delicious. They also tell a story of how she carries on traditional ways and values, such as community, food sovereignty and pride in her heritage.

Patricia Mabin is the founder of Pemmican Patty Food Company, a North Dakota Native American-owned business that strives to promote cuture, health and values. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Tourism

For more information on North Dakota, visit NDTourism.com.

 

Casey Anderson was born and raised in East Helena, Montana, and was interested in wildlife from an early age. After studying wildlife biology at Montana State University, he worked as a wildlife rehabilitation technician and animal keeper and trainer. In 2002, he adopted an orphaned grizzly bear cub named Brutus from an overcrowded wildlife park in another state, and soon after built a sanctuary for the bear near his home. He founded the Montana Grizzly Encounter Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in Bozeman in 2004. He raised Brutus here, and this also became the home for several other rescued grizzlies.

Anderson was involved in film and TV production since the 1990s and was the handler for Brutus in numerous films, TV commercials and documentaries. He starred with Brutus in “Expedition Grizzly,” a documentary on National Geographic Channel’s Wild series, and in several other productions. He also starred in or produced numerous other wildlife films and documentaries featuring grizzlies and other wildlife.

Brutus was a local favorite in the Bozeman area. He died in 2021 at age 19, but visitors to Grizzly Encounter can still see other rescued bears and learn about threats to wildlife habitat and measures to protect them.

Casey Anderson founded Montana Grizzly Encounter Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in Bozeman; he raised his rescued pet grizzly Brutus here, and it also became the home for several other rescued grizzlies. Photo courtesy of the Montana Office of Tourism

For more information on Montana, visit VISITMT.COM.