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
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
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.
The Washakie Archives is the research component of the
Lucius Burch Center and houses archives relating to the
on the Wind River Reservation, Eastern Shoshone, and Northern
Arapahoehistorical and contemporary
This collection includes the treaties and agreements between
the federal government and the Shoshone from 1863-1904
A searchable database, this collection represents photographs
of life in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation
from a number of different sources.
The collection includes extensive oral interviews with individuals
from the Wind River Indian Reservation regarding their experiences
in the early twentieth century.
and lifeways of the Mountain Indians of the Greater Yellowstone
Regionhigh altitude human adaptation
and regional rock art
and early ranching in the Upper Wind River Valley