These stones from outer space are referred to as meteors as they flash across the sky.
The fragments that manage to make it to the earth before burning up in the atmosphere are called meteorites.
Even in this day and age, the sight of a meteor streaking across the sky is awe inspiring.
It was even more so for the American Indians, as they did not have science to explain these mysterious events. A bright flash of light, perhaps accompanied by a loud boom or thunder, could only be explained as a religious or spiritual occurrence.
Furthermore, Native Americans often found unique "rocks" in the wake of one of these mystical events. Iron and nickel meteorites had utilitarian significance as they could be forged into excellent tools.
They were the only form of iron available to the American Indians. For this reason, and due to their supernatural origins, American Indians deemed meteorites, and the tools made from them, sacred. As such, they worshipped these objects in religious ceremonies.
American Indians often built their villages in the vicinity of meteor strikes where they mined these mineral-rich meteorites for decades or centuries after they struck earth.
The origins of Boot Hill Museum's specimen pictured here are unknown. There is a good chance it came from a significant meteor strike which occurred about 20,000 years ago 50 miles east of Dodge City in Kiowa County near the town of Haviland.
The meteor which fell fragmented into pieces large and small. Called the Brenham fall, the fragments which struck are a rare type of nickel-iron meteorites which scientists refer to as "pallasites." Trade by the American Indians took some of these meteorites as far east as the Hopewell mounds 1000 miles away in Ohio.
The largest known meteorite from the Brenham fall is on display nearby at the Big Well in Greensburg, Kansas.
It was found in 1882 and weighs 2.4 tons. Over the decades, more than two additional tons of meteorite fragments have been unearthed from this meteorite "farm" which is on private property.