Chief Washakie Foundation

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The Washakie Archives

Introduction

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The history of the American West recognizes Washakie as one of its most remarkable leaders. Revered for statemanship and respected in battle, he united his people into a significant political and military force. A skilled orator and charismatic figure who spoke French, English and a number of Indian languages, he successfully negoitiated land and education settlements for the Shoshone.

Tradition holds that Washakie was gifted with an ability to foresee what the future held and work out the destiny of his people to the best possible advantage. He rose to a position of leadership in 1840, bringing together disparate groups of Shoshone warriors. With immigrants pressing along the eastern slope of the Rockies through traditional Shoshone hunting grounds, Washakie sensed that the tide of the White Man could not be stemmed. He believed if the Shoshone were to retain their lands, they would need to make peace with the immigrants, and he convinced his own people and the U.S. government of the need for a protected Shoshone territory.

On July 3, 1868, Washakie signed the Fort Bridger Treaty that established a three million acre reservation in Wyoming's stunningly beautiful Wind River country. Thanks to his foresight and leadership, this Warm Valley remains the home of the Shoshone today.

The Fort Bridger treaty included pledges for building schools; Washakie was as committed to his people's education as he was to protecting their lands. To this end, he and his good friend the Welsh clergyman John Roberts established a boarding school for Shoshone girls. Built on sacred ceremonial grounds along the banks of Trout Creek, the school encouraged tradition and native speech.

Washakie remained an active and respected leader until his death at 102. His wisdom, gained from a centruy of experience and leadership, was sought by non-Native Americans as well as his own people.

When Washakie died on February 20, 1900, he was accorded a full military funeral, the only one known to be given an Indian Chief. The mourning Shoshones, Arapahos and soldiers formed the longest funeral procession in the history of Wyoming.

Chief Washakie is buried in the old military cemetery at Fort Washakie. The cemetery road leads to the heart of Wind River country, the land he loved and fought to protect and preserve for his people.


Archives

The Washakie Archives is the research component of the Lucius Burch Center and houses archives relating to the following areas

life on the Wind River Reservation, Eastern Shoshone, and Northern Arapahoe—historical and contemporary

Treaty Documents
This collection includes the treaties and agreements between the federal government and the Shoshone from 1863-1904

Archives Database
A searchable database, this collection represents photographs of life in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation from a number of different sources.

Oral History Collection
The collection includes extensive oral interviews with individuals from the Wind River Indian Reservation regarding their experiences in the early twentieth century.

archaeology and lifeways of the Mountain Indians of the Greater Yellowstone Region—high altitude human adaptation

petroglyphs and regional rock art

settlement and early ranching in the Upper Wind River Valley

 

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