The Shoshone or Shoshoni are a Native American tribe with four large cultural/linguistic divisions:
Eastern Shoshone: Wyoming
Northern Shoshone: southeastern Idaho
Western Shoshone: Nevada, northern Utah
Gosiute: western Utah, eastern Nevada
Buffalo served as a source of food and materials. After the introduction of horses during the 1700s, hundreds of Idaho Indians of various tribal affiliations would ride into Montana on a cooperative buffalo hunt. The last great hunt of this type occurred in 1864, signaling the end of a traditional way of life.
Washakie’s band evidently participated in the fur trade rendezvous (1825–1840), since those rendezvous took place within the Green River, Wind River, and Snake River regions claimed by the horse-owning and buffalo-hunting Shoshone and Bannock bands of eastern Idaho. Late in life, Washakie reported that he and Jim Bridger became fast friends, and indeed, Bridger became Washakie’s son-in-law in 1850 when he took Washakie’s daughter as his third wife. Bridger, born March 17, 1804, entered Shoshone country in 1824 (Washakie said Bridger was the older of the two). Washakie learned French and some English from trappers and traders. Washakie’s close association with the trappers developed into a similar relationship with U.S. officials.
The Dallas Daily Herald
Dallas, Texas, Jan 12, 1867
Beyond, the road winds along the clear Snake River, the old Lewis Fort of the Columbia. The Indian name, Shoshone, or Winding River, is far more fitting and musical than ours.
The Wind River Indian Reservation was established by the United States for the Eastern Shoshone Indians in 1868, restricting them from their formerly vast territory. Camp Augur, a military post with troops, was established at the present site of Lander on June 28, 1869. In 1870 the name was changed to Camp Brown and in 1871, the post was moved to the current site of Fort Washakie. The name was changed to honor the Shoshone Chief Washakie in 1878 and the fort continued to serve as a military post until the US abandoned it in 1909
It is the seventh-largest Indian reservation by area in the United States, encompassing a land area of 3,473.272 sq mi or land and water area of 3,532.010 sq mi. The reservation constitutes just over one-third of Fremont County and over one-fifth of Hot Springs County.
Eastern Shoshone are Shoshone who primarily live in Wyoming and in the northeast corner of the Great Basin where Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming meet and are in the Great Basin classification of Indigenous People. They lived in the Rocky Mountains during the 1805 Lewis and Clark Expedition and adopted Plains horse culture.
The Eastern Shoshone primarily settled on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, after Chief Washakie signed the Fort Bridger Treaty in 1868
This Fort Bridger Treaty Council of 1868, was also known as the Great Treaty Council, was a council that developed the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 (also Shoshone Bannock Treaty). The Shoshone also referred to as the Shoshoni or Snake, were the main American Indian group affected by this treaty. The event itself is significant because it was the last treaty council which dealt with establishing a reservation. After that council, executive Orders were used to establish reservations.
Members of the tribe on the Fort Hall Reservation, established by the treaty, became involved in the Bannock Wars in 1878 and 1895.
Chicago, Illinois, Sep 12, 1870
Yesterday, Washakie’s band of Shoshone’s, or Snakes, move down from the mountain to the neighborhood of the Atlantic City. They are the finest looking Indians I have seen, and, if they could be induced to adopt civilized life, would make great citizens, as they appear to possess a considerable degree of intelligence.
Hartford, Connecticut, Aug 15, 1883
Fine Scenery and Fine Trout-General Sheridan’s Excursionists at Camp Stager.
CAMP STAGER ON TERRY’S LAKE, Wyoming, Aug. 12, via Fort Washakie, Aug. 13, – It was determined last night to move our camp this morning a few miles to where there would be more abundant grazing for the horses and mules. Accordingly, at 6:30 am., every one was in the saddle and started up the valley on the right-hand bank of Wind river. Owing to the brain of yesterday the trail was in splendid condition for comfort and marching. The sun was obscured by clouds and the temperature was below 50. Fahrenheit all day. At the end of an hour’s travel over hills and rolling land the Wind river was reached at a point where it passes through gorgeous masses of rocks, known as the Red buttes. The first crossing was made by fording in a diagonal direction up the stream where the water was so rapid that once seemed to be moving up the river with the speed of a running horse. At the end of an hour the western boundary of the Shoshone reservation was reached. From this point are travel was very interesting, but not so difficult, and the journey was over a series of lofty divides. In descending one of these it was necessary to dismount and lead the horses. On the highest divide we halted to take in the beautiful view covering scores of miles up and down the river, with the snow-covered peaks of the Shoshone mountains in front of us and those of the Wind river mountains at our back. Here we took our last look at the great landmark “Crow Heart butte,“ thirty miles away, which had been in view since leaving Fort Washakie. “Wallowing Buffalo,” one of our Arapahoe guides, tells us that it got its name after a great battle between the Shoshone’s and the Crows many years ago. The victory of the Shoshone’s was celebrated by burying the hearts of dead Crows in the summit of the butte. After a ride of twelve miles we reached the banks of some beautiful lakes which are called after Capt. Terry, formerly an officer of the army, but now owning large cattle herds on the range nearby. The lakes are said to abound in large trout and we expect to spend to-morrow fishing. Game is not very abundant in this neighborhood, but our hunters brought in two antelope, yesterday, and a few mountain grouse were killed on the march to-day. Shoshone Dick, a white member of the tribe, who was captured probably from an emigrant went so young as to have lost all recollection of the event, is one of our Indian party, and he has gone to look for signs of game and we hope for a good report from him. Our camp is named “Camp Stager,” in honor of General Anson Steger of Chicago.
Detroit Free Press
Detroit, Michigan Jan 25 1885
THE SNAKE INDIAN
By Bill Nye
There are about 5,000 Snake or Shoshone Indians now extant, the greater part being in Utah and Nevada, though there is a reservation in Idaho and another in Wyoming.
The Shoshone Indian is reluctant to accept of civilization on the European plan. He prefers the ruder customs which have been handed down from father to son along with other hairlooms. I use the word hairlooms in its broadest sense.
There are the Shoshone proper and the Utes or Utahs, to which have been added by some authorities the Comanches, and Moquis of New Mexico and Arizona, the Netelas and other tribes of California. The Shoshone, whenever found, is clothed in buckskin and blanket in winter, but dressed more lightly in summer, wearing nothing but an air of intense gloom in August. To this he adds on holidays a necklace made from the store teeth of the hardy pioneer.
The Snake or Shoshone Indian is passionately fond of the game known as poker among us, and which, I learned, is played with cards. It’s a game of chance, though skill and a thorough knowledge of firearms are of great use. The Indians enter into this game with great zeal and lend to it the wonderful energy which they have preserved from year-to-year by abstaining from the debilitating effects of manual labor. All day long the red warrior sits and his skin boudoir, nursing the sickly and reluctant “flush,” patient, silent and hopeful. Through the cold of winter, in the desolate mountains, he continues to
“Hope on, hope-ever,”
That he will “draw to fill.” Far away up the canyon he hears the sturdy blows of his wife’s tomahawk as she slaughters the grease would and the sage brush for the fire in his gilded hell where he sits and woes the lazy Goddess of Fortune.
With the Shoshone, poker is not alone a relaxation, the game wherewith to wear out a long and listless evening, but it is a passion, a duty and a devotion. He has a face designed especially for poker. It never shows a sign of good or evil fortune. You might as well try to win a smile from a railroad right of way. The full hand, the fours, threes, pairs and bobtail flushes are all the same to him, if you judge by his face.
When he gets hungry he cinches himself a little tighter and continues to “rastle’ with fate. You look at his smokey, old copper cent of a face and you see no change. You watch him as he coins the last buckshot of his tribe and later on when he goes forth a pauper, and the corners of his famine-breeding mouth have never moved. His little black, smoke inflamed eyes have never lightened with triumph or joy. He is the great aboriginal stoic and sylvan dude. He does not smile. He does not weep. It certainly must be intensely pleasant to be a wild, free, lawless, irresponsible, natural born fool.
The Shoshones proper include the Bannocks, which again are subdivided into the Koolsitakarn, or Buffalo Eaters, on Wind River, the Tookarika or Mountain sheep Eaters, on Salmon and Suabe Rivers, the Shoshocas or White Knives, sometimes call Diggers, of the Humboldt River and the Great Salt Lake basin. Probably the Hokandikahs, Yahooskins and the Wahlpapes are subdivisions of the Digger tribe. I’m not sure of this, but I shall not suspend my business till I can find out about it. If I cannot get at a great truth right off I wait patiently and go right on drawing my salary.
The Shoshones live on the government and other small game. They will eat anything one hungry, from a buffalo down to a woodtick. The Shoshone this not despise small things. He loves insects in any form. He loves to make pets of them as to study their habits and his home life.
Formerly, when a great Shoshone warrior died, they killed his favorite wife over his grave so that she could go to the happy hunting grounds with him, but it is not so customary now. I try to impress on an old Shoshone brave ones that they ought not to do that. I tried to show him that it would encourage celibacy and destroys domestic ties and his tribe. Since that there has been quite a stride toward reform among them. Instead of killing the widow on the death of the husband, the husband takes such good care of his health and avoids all kinds of intellectual strain or physical fatigue, that late years there are no widows, but widowers just seem to swarm the Shoshone tribe. The woods are full of them.
Now, if they would only kill the widower over the grave of the wife, the Indians future would assume a more definite shape.
Newton Daily Republican
Newton, Kansas, Oct 11, 1886
A Wyoming Hunter Brings Down an Almost White Buffalo Bull.
(Lander (Wy. T.) Special.)
Jack Gaylor, a well-known hunter and trapper of the Wind mountains, has slain a white buffalo bull, or one so gray that it can very easily be called white.
Jack bagged his phenomenal game about two weeks ago while on an elk hunt in the recesses of wind mountains. By the merest accident he stumbled upon a small but deep basin, one of the most it hidden of haunts. In this he found the gray or white buffalo. When the hunter came to examine his prize he found that it bore all of the marks of very old age. The horns, once so powerful and massive, were worn down to the skull, and presented the appearance of bald, smooth spots on the head rather than the natural projections. The teeth were few and fragmentary, and were almost even with the jawbones. Though living in the midst of the richest and most succulent grasses and herbs the patriarch hoar and gray was very poor in flesh. The appearance of the basin indicated beyond doubt that the bull had in that one spot seen many a summer’s sun and many a winters storm. In the course of nature his race was about run, and the snows of the coming winter would have covered his age-worn carcass.
Many here think the trusty rifle of “Hunter Jack” has slain the famous white buffalo of Shoshone and Arapahoe Indian tradition, and that tradition has thus been proved a fact. Others, or skeptical, think that the color of the slain bull is due entirely to his great age. This, however, is met by the very plausible suggestion that if the bull was gray in the dullness of his age he must have been pure white in the freshness of his youth. The lovers of the marvelous are in a decided majority, and a white buffalo has at last been slain.
Pittsburg Post Gazette
Jul 29 1895
At Fort Bridger, Utah on July 3, 1868, there was a treaty entered into between the United States and the Eastern Shoshones and Bannocks, in which they were promised reservation which was to embrace part of Port Neuf valley and “Kansas” prairie. The Indians misunderstood the agreement, their idea being that they were to have Camas prairie and all the Port Neuf country, and about 1 June each year they visited that region in a body, remaining for a month or more, while the squaws gathered and dried roots for winter consumption and the men raced horses, gambled and traded with the Umatillas, Sheepeaters, Nez Perces and other tribes that were accustomed to make the same place a summer rendezvous.
But the country rapidly became settled with white people and the immemorial meeting place of the red man was seized by them for their stock. That blood resulted between them and the Indians, who looked on the whites as invaders of their ancient domain, and the outcome was an outbreak and a massacre of white settlers in 1878. The government finally decided the matter arbitrarily in favor of the white settlers in the Indians were compelled to keep on their reservation, which ranked in their breasts until the present day and is the cause of the recent revolt.
The Daily Times
Davenport, Iowa, Aug 23, 1895
ABOUT THE BANNOCKS.
The Indians Who Have Been Giving the Government Trouble.
A Warlike Tribe That Is a Disturbing Element Among Savages of the Northwest- One Version of Their Grievance.
The Bannock Indians, who were reported to be on the war-path because of the settlers interfering with their killing of elk, occupy the Fort Hall reservation in southeastern Idaho with the Shoshones. The Shoshones, says the Philadelphia Telegraph are more numerous than the Bannocks, who in 1894 were 772, all told, 132 being males over 18 years of age, while of 1,745 Shoshone’s there were 286 males above 18 years of age. The Bannocks, or Bannaks, belong to the general family of Shoshones or Snakes, which family also includes the various tribes of Utes, Comanches, Moquis, Chemehuens, Cahuilla and the Keechi, Kizh and Netolo tribes of California. Their tradition is that they came originally from the far east, and their language, which is so different from that of the Western Shoshones, resembles that of the Comanches, whose home when white men first found them was about the headwaters of the Brazos, the Colorado and eastward to those of the Arkansas and Missouri rivers.
The main tribe of the Bannocks was first found near where they are now established, at the Fort Hall agency, in Oneida county, in the southeastern part of Idaho, along the Snake river valley. They are taller and straighter than the mountain Indians round about them, and have the reputation of being more warlike. They are nearly all able to speak the language of the Shoshones, but the latter do not speak the Bannock tongue. This is the same as that of the Piutes, and the latter say that the Bannocks split off from them. Before the Bannocks got horses they were very expert in the use of the bow and arrow. They are distinctly a hunting tribe, and look upon work as an everlasting disgrace, except for squaws. They view themselves as the salt of the earth. They have earned a reputation for blood thirstiness, and are said sometimes to kill their aged parents when the latter begin to become a burden.
The only purpose for which the Bannocks appeared to be preserved is to vex and annoy the Shoshones, the take more kindly to labor, schools and the use of other clothing than blankets than do the Bannocks, who have appeared to be incurably opposed to civilization for themselves and other Indians. The two tribes have been thrown together for many years on the same reservation, and while the Shoshones have manifested a willingness to accept the benefits of schools and instruction in the use of implements of agriculture, the Bannocks have assumed a superiority because of their refusal to be civilized, and have taunted the Shoshones as “squaws” because they embrace the opportunities for improvement held out by the government. The Shoshones are peaceful and industrious. They were raised and sold for the reservation during 1893 more than $15,000 worth of agricultural products, of which is safe to assume that the Shoshones produced a very considerable share. The reports of the Indian agent showed that all of the Shoshones and Bannocks on the reservation only 140 can speak enough English to be understood in ordinary conversation. The degree of civilization to which these Indians have reached is indicated by the statement that there was one marriage during the year, and fifteen Chiefs were living in polygamy.
Gradually white man came into the prairie, and, finding it well adapted to the raising of hogs, turn thousands of these animals loose and it. The hogs ate up the roots which had supplied the Indians’ winter needs, and they complained that this is a great injustice. This led to bad blood between themselves and the whites, and in 1878 a party of the Bannocks went on the war trail, killing several settlers and stealing horses. They went along the trail which Chief Joseph and his band had followed the year before, driven to war by just such causes.
General Miles with 100 men and seven scouts went after them, and at daylight on September 4, 1878, surprise them in Clarks Fork pass, on Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, beyond the National park. Eleven of the Indians were killed in the battle which followed, and the rest, nearly 100 all told, including women and children, were captured. Capt. Andrew T. Bennett, of the Fifth infantry, was one of the killed among the soldiers. This party of the Bannocks were held as prisoners several months, their stock was taken from them, and then they were returned to their reservation. They had made no trouble since. The loss of their grounds for the supply of brutes was not so serious to them as the loss of their hunting grounds.
The game in the Yellowstone park has undoubtedly attracted them now, and it appears to Miles as if a party of ill responsible settlers or Cowboys had gone after a hunting party in captured it. Speaking of the reported killing of these Indians, Gen.Miles said that probably many an innocent settler would pay with his life for the acts of these men. Scalps and horses are the two things which the Bannock is taught to crave. The warrior who has taken these from his enemy will go when he dies to a land ruled by a big chief who wears the feathers and robes of a full chief and rides a fast horse. This big chief will leave them all in the chase, and buffalo and other game will be plentiful and easy to take. To provide horse for the chase the favorite horse of a dead warrior is killed at his grave. Formally a squaw was also killed at the great and sent after him to wait on him. Although the Bannocks are comparatively few in number Gen Miles says that if they are much stirred up they may get recruits from among the young men of all the other tribes and make a serious disturbance.
- Another article reports : The St Johnsbury Caledonian St Johnsbury, Vermont Aug 2, 1895
The United States had a Bannock war in 1878. It was hot and short, and it costs $556,636.19. Twenty four soldiers, 30 citizens and 74 Indians were killed before it stopped.
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, California, Mar 14, 1897
WASHAKIE, chief of all the Shoshone’s, has been finally summoned. A gloom has fallen over the little fort, tucked away in the foothills of the Wind river valley of Wyoming, which long ago was named after the old Indian, and those who are not watching for the end about the crude cot in a ward of the post hospital, where Washakie lies now, keep an eye on the gaunt flagstaff on the parade grounds, for when they see the colors creep up that barren pole for half its length, they will know that Death has claimed its own.
A chieftain indeed, yet dismantled of either gorgeous feather or sign of rank, the dying Washakie lies prone amidst a circle of his people and officers of the Army, awaiting with less fear in his heart than any of those about him, the supreme moment when he shall pass out and beyond — into the happy hunting grounds, the region of a traditional happiness. For him there awaits a cold, dank portion in God’s acre near the fort long since the goal of the Shoshones noted dead. Ten spanking ponies graze not a long way off, all unaware that the moment of final dissolution means a speedy bullet and an even swifter death for them, with the mission of a lasting servitude, according to Indian superstition, to the departing chief in another world, vested in them.
Chief Washakie has rounded out 93 years of a remarkable career and dies now the foremost Indian of America. Not only will the tribes of Wyoming and the settlers of the Wind river and neighboring valleys be made to feel his loss keenly, but the officials of the Department of Indian Affairs in Washington, will be left to regret that taking off of their staunchest friend among the redskins of the land — of an unfailing arbitrator in times of Indian trouble and of an earnest peacemaker, whose administration for whole decades over a rude and restless people has been a faultless one.
It was some time before the Civil War that the Government forged into the Rockies which span Wyoming from corner to corner, and undertook the appointment of lards, the allotment of holdings among the Indians of the Territory and the settlement of agreement, which later took the form of treaties and formed the base for all subsequent negotiations. The Bannocks, the Shoshones, and the Arapahoe then held the Territory. In those days buffalo herds were plentiful enough to level off whole plateaus of their stunted growths once they were set in motion and the country was wild in every sense of the word. The three tribes, with even the frequent appearance of the Brule Indians of Dakota, were bitterly opposed to each other. They lived and fought and went down to death all unknown to the whites and history was made for them while the outside world new but little of their doings. The Shoshone’s came from the North in the beginning and established their domain directly South of the territory now constituting Yellowstone Park. Washakie was a warrior with the rest of them, but he rose to prominence with his people by virtue of his specific nature his mild ideas of government and his theories for the settlement of differences with contending tribes.
Time went on, and an outpost was established in a fork of the Wind river, then some 300 miles from the nearest railroad, and even now 150 miles from Rawlins, the nearest point at which the railroad approaches. The coming of a handful of soldiers into the midst of three unruly tribes who looked upon their appearance as an invasion was a plucky move on the part of the War Department, but whole tracts of land lay idle there with people clamoring to settle upon them, and the move had to be made. Fortune favored the Government then four Washakie rose to power. He had fought and killed when he thought occasion demanded, but his policy was for peace and quiet, and the turbulent Shoshone’s unknowingly revered the trait. They made him chief, and while he held them back from warring expeditions, much to the disgust of the younger Indians he held their respect and restrained them. Washakie met the soldiers who marched down the Wind river valley to establish a fort with every assurance that he would help them on to success, but with the warning that three nations thirsted for their blood and might break their bonds with horrible results. The soldiers dared to risk it, and Washakie was seemingly inspired to control them. With a rare wisdom, he held aloof from the whites at times and retained the confidence and sympathy of his people sufficient to ensure his own safety. Then when other tribes threatened war, he made the Shoshone’s believe that they alone were privileged to deal with the invaders and that in treating tribes had to be fought. For no other reason than that the battle of Crow Heat Butte was fought, and quite unconsciously the Shoshone’s permitted their efforts to be aided by the whites and their sympathies drawn to them. On a promontory plainly seen on the coach ride from Lander to Fort Washakie a band of bloodthirsty Crows were put to death, and the heart of their leader scooped from its place and pinned with a knife to the hilltop by a Shoshone brave. The horror of the affair was lost sight of in view of the fact that Washakie had induced his followers to fight for the whites, and from that time on there was but little trouble between troops and warriors who boasted Washakie as their chieftain.
The Shoshone’s always hated the Arapahoes. Warfare between the two tribes was always prevented after exasperating experiences, but Washakie generally but down his unruly braves and welded anew the bonds that were broken.
It was a continuance of this sort of thing which prompted the Government officials to name there fort in the wilds of Wyoming after the chieftain. Fort Washakie was regularly established and garrisoned and since the Civil War has been a mom the important frontier post. A garrison from 400 to 500 men has been maintained there for the most part and has been commanded by a list of Army officers who have since arisen to prominence through promotion, and each of these has been made a lasting friend and coworker by Washakie. The early endeavors to agree upon prices for land and the details from munitions many times threatened to end in an open warfare, but Washakie was the untiring mediator, and but few grill skirmishes arising from this difficulty have been occasioned. When Pres. Chester Arthur and his escort of General Phil Sheridan, General McCook, Robert Lincoln and others visited the fort in 1880, on the way to Yellowstone Park, Washakie was the host who received the party so sincerely and well that his name was on the tongue of almost every Washingtonian, and his policy met with the admiration of the Nation. Many and urgent have been the invitations extended the old chief to visit Washington, but an antipathy for railroad trains and a disposition to show his people that he would receive no more attention than they themselves were permitted to enjoy prevented this. Washakie furthermore would not ascend a flight of stairs, whether through superstition or preference is not known, and he realized that this trip could not be made without violating this habit. Among the men who have been closest to Washakie in the handling of the Indian tribes of Wyoming have been Col. Charles King. General A.V. Kautz, Captain Olmstead of the Ninth Cavalry, Captain Burnett of the Seventh infantry, General Nelson A Miles, and Colonel Smith of the same infantry regiment.
Washakie’ main confidant, however, has doubtless been the post trader, James K. Moore, who has been for twenty odd years his counselor in matters of importance to the tribes.
The Arapahoe Indians were directed by the Government to establish themselves near Fort Washakie, so that they might be easily accessible when the time for distributing rations rolled around. This has ever been a menace in that piece of the country thereabouts. Washakie however, has ruled in an admirable way against the opening of hostilities and has His men back on most occasions. There is a fear now that with his influence removed the tribes will give rein to their former animosity against the whites and that trouble will follow.
Sharp Nose, the head of the Arapahoe nation, was at all times a firm admirer of Washakie and that even at the risk of being renounced for it by his own people, Washakie virtually controlled Sharp Nose.
When the education of Indian children came up for consideration Washakie astonished his people by proclaiming his wish that all the young Indians be given a chance to learn. He encouraged the establishment of Catholic schools almost in the face of an open opposition and he so managed the scheme that most of the children of the two tribes were placed under the care of instructors or sent away to Carlisle. The ultimate result has been most gratifying and the Shoshone Indians have made as excellent a showing as any in the Government schools.
Although Washakie is proud in spirit and burying he has never been vain. His clothes were shabby and even tattered and he never dressed any better than the most humble of his tribe. His habits have been exemplary and he at all times has aided the Government in bringing his people to justice when may have committed some overt act. He is a devout Episcopalian and has encouraged the establishment of missions among his people.
Just within the borders of the Shoshone reservation are a series of hot springs, the value of which has been computed in large figures, and which have long been coveted by the whites. To these, however, the old chief has clung with much tenacity, contending that the revenue which they would one day bring should be devoted to the old and indigent of his tribe and insisting that the whites had no right to buy them for speculation. Not even Washakies closest friend could deter him from this and the springs remain to be disposed of as he intended.
As letter received last week from the fort tells of the grief which the inevitable death of the old chief is about to occasion. Never before has Washakies worth and need been so keenly appreciated. He dies poor and worldly goods, rich and friends and famous in the annals of the Nations dealing with the red men.
Even now whole quantities of showy chattels, beaded and befeathered are at hand to be consigned to dust with him, according to the customs of the tribe. Morning squaws await the signal to wail their grief to the night wins of the mountains and the sub-chiefs of two tribes, who for a long time have moved at the beck and call of the sturdy old leader, watch through the hours the going down of their chief in his last struggle.
A military funeral will be accorded Washakie, and the Nation will attest its appreciation for the rough Indian who had a tender instinct and a good heart with the flash of a rifle salute over his grave. Then taps, and the deeds and nobility of Washakie, Chief of all the Shoshones, will live only in memory.
ELMORE C. LEFFINGWELL.
Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana, Mar 4, 1900
WAS A GOOD INDIAN EVEN WHEN ALIVE
Wash-a-kie, Chief of the Shoshones
Always a True Friend of the Whites.
His rule Absolute and His Influence and Aid of Much Value to the Army.
A dispatch from Cheyenne says:
Wash-a-kie, chief of the Eastern Shoshone Indians, who died at the Wind River reservation in Fremont County in this state last Wednesday night, was 93 years old and was one of the most intelligent of all the North American Indians. He had been in failing health for several years and two years ago he was baptized by the Rev. Mr. Roberts of the Episcopal church. Since that time he had been awaiting the coming of death and that apparently in different manners so typical of the Indian.
Dick Wash-a-kie, son of the old warrior, will succeed him as head of the Shoshone tribe. It has been said that when the old man died trouble would follow among the Shoshones, but it is believed that Dick, who is about 40 years old, and who has many of his father’s traits, will be able to hold the disturbing element in check.
Wash-a-kie had been head chief of his tribe for fifty years, and his life was one long struggle with foes of his own race and with the forces of nature. The Shoneshoes have had a long and hard struggle to maintain their stay in the country surrounding the Snake and Big Horn rivers, which, it is claimed, the tribe has occupied since 1781. The hereditary enemies of the tribe, Sioux, Crows, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, waged war upon the Shoneshoes or Snakes, for years in the attempt to drive them from the choice hunting grounds which they had selected as their home. It was due to the skill and wisdom of Wash-a-kie that the tribe was enabled to maintain its putting in its chosen home against the assaults of the enemy, and it was through this sagacity that the tribe was finally allowed to make the region its permanent home and have the support of the United States behind it to maintain it as such.
The Shoneshoes have generally been the friends of the white people and Wash-a-kie during his 50 years as chief was the sworn friend of the white, and never broke the treaty. In 1868, as head chief of his tribe, he, with a number of chiefs of the Bannock’s, met Generals Sherman, Augur, Terry, and Harney at Fort Bridger, and negotiated the famous treaty which gave the Wind River reservation to the tribe.
In 1871 Bannocks quarreled with the Shoshones, and were removed to the Fort Hall reservation, Idaho. In 1875 the Shoneshoes consented to having the Arapahoes share their reservation with them, and, although the two tribes were for many years deadly enemies, and the Arapahoes, by their nature quarrelsome, they have lived in harmony and have had no serious troubles.
Wash-a-kie took a prominent part in the expedition of General Crook against the Sioux in 1876. He commanded 213 Shoshone warriors and joined crook in the Big Horn basin. His party had been delayed in order to wait for a war party of the Utes and the Bannocks, but Wash-a-kie got tired of waiting for them and started off with his own people to take part in the campaign. During the expedition, the Shoshone rendered very efficient service as scouts, and Wash-a-kie was consulted daily by General Crook as to the habits of the Sioux and their probable movements.
After the Sioux campaign, General Grant, who was a great admirer of Wash-a-kie, sent that chief a fine saddle and bridle, trimmed to catch the eye of any Indian. The present was sent in care of Dr. Irwin, the then Indian agent. He took it to Wash-a-kie at a council meeting and presented it with a very nice speech.
Wash-a-kie received the gift with absolute silence, not moving a muscle of his face or exhibiting surprise or gratification. Dr. Irwin said: “What shall I say to Gen. Grant?” Wash-a-kie replied, “Nothing.” “But,” said Dr. Irwin, “when a white man gives another a present the one who receives it always says, Thank you,” “shall I not say this to Gen. Grant for you?” “No,” said Wash-a-kie, “that you may say this to him: “Do of favor to a Frenchman, he feels it in his head and his tongue speaks; show a kindness to an Indian and he feels it in his heart; the heart has no tongue.”
Wash-a-kie was a polygamist. He had several wives and a large family of children. His affection for his wives was not very great, but he was deeply attached to his children.
In 1866 he led a party of hunters from his tribe on a big buffalo hunt in the Big Horn basin. On the way home, they were attacked by a war party of about 200 Sioux, who had come across the Shoshone trail and followed it up. As soon as the Shoneshoes had recovered from their surprise, the warriors, to the number of about 100, charge the enemy, who fell back into a Grove of quaking asp.
In this first charge Wash-a-kie killed a Sioux, and, while standing with a group of Shoneshoes over the fallen foe, his eldest son, Nan-nang-gai (Snowbird) rode up, late for the charge. Wash-a-kie reproved him for his tardiness, saying: “Where have you been so long? I, an old man, have killed this Sioux, when you, like a squaw, come up after the fight.” The boy felt the reproof keenly, and, turning his horse toward where the enemy was in hiding, said, “I will make for myself a name as great as my father’s, or die in the attempt.”
He charged alone, and, when within a short distance of the Grove where the Sioux were concealed, he fell, pierced by a number of bullets and arrows. He had no sooner fallen than his body was literally cut to pieces insight of his father. Wash-a-kie’s war hoop was then changed to a wail. The old chief, backed by his Shoshone warriors, fought desperately all day to avenge his son. Toward the evening the Sioux retreated, leaving seven of their number dead and taking with them a number of wounded. On the Shoshone side, five were killed and several wounded. The Shoshone say that on that night the hair of Wash-a-kie turned white while he mourned for his son.
Wash-a-kie ruled his tribe with firmness which admitted of no question upon the part of any of his people. Upon one occasion the agent at the reservation complained to him that a certain Indian was in the habit of getting drunk and making trouble by fighting. Wash-a-kie promised that he would reprove the man. Later on the agent was forced to complain of the same Indian. Wash-a-kie said: “He won’t trouble you again.” Nor did he, for Wash-a-kie took him out and shot him.
Wash-a-kie was five feet ten inches tall. He was of heavy build and muscular and very straight and erect, until his last sickness compelled him to seek his bed. His face was mild and intellectual. General Crook said of him that in face and bearing he had a resemblance to Henry Ward Beecher. Others have seen in his face a resemblance to the pictures of Washington. While he did not, until a few years ago, Allie himself with the Christian church, he had for many years encouraged his people to connect themselves with the church.
Pagan though he was, Wash-a-kie has left a record for wisdom, honesty, and uprightness which may well be envied.
Fort Hall Reservation-today
Shoshone-Bannock Buffalo Enterprises
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Bison herd was established in 1966 with 21 buffalo acquired from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The current herd ranges from 300 to 400 head and are decedents of this start. The buffalo herd grazes on the bluffs of the Fort Hall Bottoms and the Cedars areas. The Tribes use the buffalo for ceremonies and local functions, such as the traditional community feast for the annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival. Select animals from the herd are chosen to provide high-quality products to the public in a sustainable manner.
To learn more about all the things they have to offer today, check out their site at http://www.shoshonebannocktribes.com/
Wind River Reservation – today
May 24, 2017 – Courtesy Jason Baldes. The newest addition to the Wind River Reservation—a buffalo calf—is part of the herd of bison released in November …
Since 130 years..
First Bison Calf Born on Wind River Reservation
Buffalo birth is first in 131 years, in herd released at Wind River last year
It was birthed by just one of two cows included in a herd of ten buffalo that the reservation received last fall from the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge in Iowa (which got its start with animals from the National Wildlife Refuge in Montana). More than 300 tribal members turned out in November 2016 to watch the bison burst from their enclosure and bolt across the plains. Schoolchildren were also brought out to see the little herd, and they will soon return again to see the newborn calf.
“It was a forty-plus-year effort to get those ten buffalo here, and to see the first one born from that effort is special,” said Jason Baldes, who heads up the tribal buffalo program. “We may look to add some more cows, probably four or five, within a year or so.”
The younger of the two cows is still likely two years away from breeding—which makes this newborn calf even more special, Baldes added.
The reservation was traditional buffalo range and holds great hope for the future.
“We have the best potential anywhere for what buffalo management could look like if we do it right,” Baldes said. “There’s no other place that has such a large intact ecosystem. We have 700,000 acres with no fences and both winter and summer range. I’ve argued that we have more potential habitat than Yellowstone. The ultimate vision for Wind River is one thousand plus buffalo on hundreds of thousands of acres!”
Boy-Zhan Bi-Den is the Shoshone term for “buffalo return.” And so it is on the Wind River Reservation. Buffalo have indeed returned!
Jason Baldes March 2019.
We passed a resolution supporting a buffalo restoration effort in 2009, which encouraged my own work in academia at Montana State University to develop a restoration plan. I partnered with several entities, USGS, USFWS, the NWF, and academic advisors etc. I was appointed as the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Buffalo Representative in ~2014. We modeled a 60″ wildlife-friendly fence after the Fort Peck.
Tribal Buffalo Program and electrified it, mostly for the appeasement of adjacent landowners. The first 10 bison came from the Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge in Iowa in November of 2016. The first calf was born in May of 2017. We brought 10 more from the National Bison Range in Montana in Oct of 2017. In January of 2018, a pregnant female contracted malignant catarrhal fever from a nearby domestic sheep. 3 additional calves were born in 2018 bringing our number to 23. We have a tribe to tribe agreement to share in Yellowstone buffalo from the Fort Peck Tribes which they will honor by providing us 5 more this spring. I am now working with the tribes here at Wind River to expand the range, set protections within our own laws, and build a sustainable population.
I have written a management plan for the tribe the emphasizes eventual management as wildlife. Many tribes, mostly due to limited land base, have to essentially ‘ranch’ their buffalo, which is an economic benefit. Here at Wind River, we have more potential habitat than what is even available for buffalo in Yellowstone. Management as wildlife is the best respect we can give the animal. Once a target population is reached, we will use them for ceremony, and open a season on them for tribal members to hunt them and utilize them for cultural and subsistence use, as we already do for our other wildlife species.