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9.27.2007 - 26 comments 

As we were on our way to Yellowstone National Park, at the end of this summer, we came across this part off Wyoming that looked like it belonged in either Bryce Canyon Utah or perhaps even Zion National Park. I found the beauty of all the red rock mountains around here to be just beautiful, in fact breathtaking. I took many pictures in this area, but I was anxious to find out more about the area which was somewhere between Lander and the lovely little college (Central Wyoming College) town of Riverton, Wyoming.

The 1.7+ million-acre Wind River Indian Reservation was established in 1864 through the Bridger-Teton Treaty with the U.S. government, and it is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. The Wind River Indian Reservation offers visitors a cultural peek into the history of two Native American tribes who now share the beautiful wide open spaces northwest of Lander.

Those of you who may be numismatists may remember the Sacajawea one dollar coin, as a dismal failure as almost all dollar coins have been since the abolition of the silver dollar. But you may not have know that Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian.

If you happen to be looking to discover more about Sacajawea, the Wind River Indian Reservation is the place to go. Near Fort Washakie you will find the grave of Sacajawea, her nephew Bazil, and a memorial to her son Baptiste. Many believe she returned to her Shoshone people in Fort Washakie where she died and was buried on April 9, 1884, by the Episcopal missionary, Reverend John Roberts.

While living on the Wind River Indian Reservation Sacajawea served as a translator for Chief Washakie in negotiations to establish the reservation and was often seen wearing one the peace medals given out by Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea Cemetery is located in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains where you will find the 13,569-foot Mt. Sacajawea.

Fort Washakie (also on the Wind River Indian Reservation) was once a U.S. military establishment frequented by members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Fort Washakie is now the headquarters of the tribe's government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs agency. Fort Washakie is the only military fort named for an American Indian chief. Visitors will want to visit the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center at 31 Black Coal Street, where you will get an in-depth look into the history and culture of the Shoshone Tribe.

The Center, established in 1988, is housed in a National Registered Historic Building. Featured are exhibits of tribal cultural crafts and art, along with historical data and photographic collections. Treaty maps and agreements are also displayed there. Maps for self-guided tours are free, along with information about Chief Washakie and Sacajawea.

Also famous (as the chief of the Eastern Shoshone) was Chief Washakie. In 1840, Washakie became the principal chief of the Eastern Shoshone, a role he would fill until his death over sixty years later. Throughout his tenure he maintained friendly relations with the U.S. government, settlers, and other American immigrants.

Washakie always placed the peace and welfare of his people above all other concerns. In the 1870s Washakie served as a military leader of over 150 Shoshone men serving with General Crook in the campaign to return Sioux and Cheyenne bands to their assigned reservations. The campaign ended with Custer's ill-fated attack at Little Big Horn in 1876, an attack (which by the way), Washakie advised against.

Located approximately ½ mile from the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center, Chief Washakie Cemetery is the final resting place of the last chief of the Shoshone Tribe, Chief Washakie. Chief Washakie is buried in the older section of the cemetery. A large headstone marks his grave. When Chief Washakie died in 1900 at an age of over 100, Washakie received a full military funeral and burial, honoring his career in the U.S. Army.

As you can see from this photo I took, it is a uniquely beautiful part of the country, with quite a historical significance in the forming of the western frontier. The really sad thing about this area "for us" was that we were just really passing through and probably did not give the area it's true due! But if we ever pass this way again, we just might make it a "stop-over" for us!

"Wisdom begins in wonder." ~ Socrates