Washakie: Through the Lens of Time

Today we commemorate Chief Washakie, a leader of the Eastern Shoshones from the 1840s until his death on February 20, 1900 who embodied all the traits of great leadership. He exhibited bravery, skills as an orator and diplomat, and a belief in the importance of education. He is often noted for his friendship with the whites and for having the best interests of his people as his primary motivation.


Washakie, ca. 1880. Baker & Johnston Photograph Collection,  Box 1, UW American Heritage Center

In 2001, retired AHC Associate Director Rick Ewig curated an exhibit about the Native American leader, Washakie: Through the Lens of Time. It is now an AHC traveling exhibit that presents different images and impressions of Washakie throughout history and into more modern times.

Washakie was born in the early 1800s. His father was a Flathead Indian and his mother Shoshone. He joined the Eastern Shoshones as a young man and rose to a leadership position in the early 1840s.

During this time of increasing Euro-American migration to the West, Washakie chose alliance with the United States, instead of opposition, and looked to the U.S. for assistance against the Shoshones’ traditional enemies, the Sioux, Blackfeet, Crow, and Cheyenne. He told his people to “learn all they can from the white man, because he is here to stay, and they must live with them forever.”

Upon his death, Washakie was buried with full military honors and with a funeral train that stretched for miles.


Washakie’s funeral held at the Wind River Reservation, Reverend John Roberts presiding. Reverend John Roberts Papers, Accession Number 00037, Box 3, Folder 10

Washakie became Wyoming’s second representative in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in September 2000, joining Esther Hobart Morris, the first woman to serve as a justice of the peace.

Washakie statue

Statue of Washakie given to the National Statuary Hall Collection by the State of Wyoming in 2000. Artist: Dave McGary. Photograph courtesy of Architect of the Capitol.

Washakie: Through the Lens of Time consists of 17 framed items (1 crate). There is no charge for the traveling exhibits. Each participant must provide wall-to-wall insurance upon receipt and throughout the exhibition period. Each exhibitor pays one-way shipping to the next institution.

If you are interested in hosting this exhibit at your own awesome institution, you can contact The Collections Management Unit.



This entry was posted in American Indian history, Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Uncategorized, Under-documented communities, Western history, Wyoming history. Bookmark the permalink.

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