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    The Code of the West


    In 2010, Wyoming signed a law declaring “The Code of the West” as the official state code, becoming the first state to adopt a code of ethics. 

    In the 19th century, an unwritten code of ethics was created among pioneers and cowboys, pushing them to live with courage and morality while moving west. In 2005, that same code was composed into the book Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, written by Author James P. Owen, outlining the principles embodying the Western spirit, and guiding individuals in the ways of the cowboys.

    In 2010, Wyoming adopted “The Code of the West” as the official state code to reflect the values of the state's cowboy heritage.

    The Code of the West:

    1. Live each day with courage
    2. Take pride in your work
    3. Always finish what you start
    4. Do what has to be done
    5. Be tough, but fair
    6. When you make a promise, keep it
    7. Ride for the brand
    8. Talk less and say more
    9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale
    10. Know where to draw the line
    Did You Know?

    In reality, “The Code of the West” was based more on the ideas and principles that pioneers, in the mid to late 1800’s, followed to make their successful expansion into Western America. There was no official written code until 1934 by Zane Gray and then a further interpretation of “The Code of the West” was written in the book Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, by James P. Owen in 2004.

    About the Code of the West

    A system of principles known as the “Code of the West” embodies the independent spirit found in the American West. These principles emphasized the importance of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and respect for others. Author James P. Owen articulated these values in the book, Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, forming them into a guide for modern living.

    In 2010, the state of Wyoming, known for its rich cowboy culture, adopted “The Code of the West” as its official state code. Not only was Wyoming the first state to adopt a code of ethics but it was also the first state to make a code of morals law for mere symbolic gesture, honoring the state’s legacy and promoting these values among its locals and its visitors.

    “The Code of the West” has pushed the state of Wyoming to reintroduce the principles that shaped the state’s history and culture. Citizens of Wyoming, as well as cowboys and ranchers, use this code as a reminder to maintain honesty, integrity, and a strong sense of community throughout everyday life. This code serves as a viable reminder to all that the 10 principles used back in the 19th century and the values written in 2004 by James P. Owen are something to live by.

    How local high school student Sadie Scarlett applies the Code of the West to her daily life

    To me, the Code of the West is a set of ethics meant to live by. Since learning about the 10 principles used back in the 19th century, I have been using them in my everyday life to help push me to do and be the very best that I can.

    The principle that I base most of what I do is “Do what has to be done.” I use this principle in school, as a tennis player on my high school team, and as a member of the Jackson Hole community, making sure that I am doing whatever it takes to reach my goals and become the person that I hope to be.

    Whether you have been living in Wyoming or are visiting Wyoming, you should take the time to learn about the Code of the West and the importance it has to our history and culture and hopefully you can implement it into your own daily lives.

    Western Heritage

    Here, frontier history and western heritage are woven into the fabric of Jackson Hole. So what most people call the Old West we call everyday life.

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