Washakie-Shoshone chief T-Shirt
Chief Washakie c.(1804-1808-1900) was a renowned warrior who first appears in 1840 in the written record of the American fur trapper, Osborne Russell. In 1851, at the urging of trapper Jim Bridger, Washakie led a band of Shoshones to the council meetings of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851). Essentially from that time until his death, he was considered the head of the Eastern Shoshones by the representatives of the United States government.------Much about Washakie's early life remains unknown, although several family traditions suggest similar origins. He was born to a Flathead(Salish) father and Lemhi Shoshone mother, two tribal groups that were frequent hunting and trading partners. Their territories were separated by the Bitterroot Mountains chain in the Rocky Mountains. The Lemhis occupying the Salmon River country of Idaho and the Flathead Salish claiming the Bitterroot Valley. Washakie's birth name may have been Pinaquana ("Smell of Sugar") and he may have had other names before being called Washakie. During his early childhood, the Blackfeet Indians attacked a combined camp of Flathead and Lemhi people while the latter were on a buffalo hunt near the Three Forks area of Montana (where the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson rivers form the headwaters of the Missouri River). Washakie's father was killed; his mother and at least one sister were able to make their way back to the Lemhis on the Salmon River in Idaho. In the melee of the attack, Washakie was lost and possibly wounded. According to some family traditions, he was found by either a band of Bannock Indians who had also come to hunt in the region, or by a combined Shoshone and Bannock band. He may have become the adopted son of the band leader, but for the next two-and-one-half decades (c. 1815-1840) he learned the traditions and the ways of a warrior that were typical of any Shoshone youth of that period.--------------Although the name by which he would be widely known has been translated in various ways, it apparently dealt with his tactics in battle. One story describes how Washakie devised a large rattle by placing stones in an inflated and dried balloon of buffalo hide which he tied on a stick. He carried the device into battle to frighten enemy horses, earning the name "The Rattle, " or "Gourd Rattle." Another translation of "Washakie" is "Shoots-on-the-Run."------------Washakie's band evidently participated in the fur trade rendezvous (1817-1842) 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. Bridger 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.------------In 1863 and again in 1868, he signed treaties with the U.S. at Fort Bridger. The 1863 Treaty of Fort Bridger established a generic Shoshone country, whose borders extended eastward to the crest of the Wind River Mountains, south to the Uintah Mountains of Utah, and on the northern side, to the crest of the Bitterroots. The western border was left undefined, but was understood to include most of the Snake River basin as far as the Oregon border. This treaty included a number of Shoshone and Bannock Indian bands besides that of Washkie. The 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger proved more significant, for it established the Shoshone and Bannock Indian Agency located in west-central Wyoming. Moreover, this was land selected by Washakie and his headmen of the Eastern Shoshones. The initial reservation included about three million acres (12,000 km) in Wyoming's Wind River country for his people. Although an 1872 land cession reduced the size by 800,000 acres (3,200 km2), this valley remains the home of the Eastern Shoshones today. He was also determined that Native Americans should be educated, and he gave land to Welsh clergyman John Roberts to establish a boarding school where Shoshone girls learned traditional crafts and language.---------Washakie was a friend of Brigham Young and expressed sadness at the fighting his people had often done with the Utes. It was not until after 1880, after Young's death that Washakie became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized on 25, September, 1880 by Amos R. Wright. About 300 other Shoshone joined the church at this point.------------His prowess in battle, his efforts for peace, and his commitment to his people's welfare made him one of the most respected leaders in Native American history. Upon his death in 1900, he became the only known Native American to be given a full military funeral.--------Washakie County, Wyoming was named for him. In 2000, the state of Wyoming donated a bronze statue of Washakie to the National Statuary Hall Collection. The dining hall at the University of Wyoming is also named after him.------During WW II, a 422-foot (129 m) Liberty Ship SS Chief Washakie was named in his honor and built in Portland, OR in 1942.