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Washakie (Pinaquana)

Portrait
Born: 1804 AD
Died: 1900 AD, at 96 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Chief

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1804 - he was born in his father's Salish (or Flathead) tribe, and was given the name Washakie when he joined his mother's Shoshone tribe. Shortly after his birth in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains, he was named Pinquana ["Sweet Smelling"]

 

1810's - When Washakie was a small child, his father was killed during a Blackfoot raid on their village. His mother escaped with her five young children and returned to her people, who lived along the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. Washakie stayed with them until he was a young man, then is believed to have lived for about five years with the Bannocks.

 

      -Later in life, he took the name Washakie - derived from Shoshonean Wus'sik-he, variously interpreted as "Gourd Rattle, " "Rawhide Rattle, " Washakie did not acquire this name until he had killed his first buffalo: after skinning the buffalo and curing the hide, he made a stone-filled out of a dried, pouch-like piece of the animal's skin. During battle, Washakie would ride toward his enemies and shake his rattle to their horses. Early on, he earned a reputation as a fierce warrior against the Sioux, Blackfeet, and Crow Indian nations. He also gained several other names from his fighting exploits: "Scar Face" or "Two Scar Chief" because of the deep scars on his left , which had been pierced by a Blackfoot arrow, as well as "Shoots Straight" and "Sure Shot, " for his keen eye and steady hand.

 

1820's-1830's - Washakie and the Shoshonis were on good terms with Anglo frontiersmen, trappers, and traders. They attended the fur trappers' Rocky Mountain rendezvous, establishing an alliance with their brigades and joining them in battles against the Sioux, Blackfeet, and Crows - all traditional enemies of the Shoshonis.

 

 

1830's-1840s - Washakie was principal chief of the Eastern Shoshoni band and waves of settlers were crossing his country on their way west along the Oregon Trail.

 

 

1850's - Washakie continued to maintain relations with this new group of immigrants, assisting them in many ways. The Shoshonis helped the settlers recover lost stock and cross the region's swift rivers. Washakie also provided regular patrols of Shoshoni warriors to protect the immigrants from Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho raiding parties. Perhaps even more important was his refusal to allow Shoshoni reprisals against settlers who were wiping out game and whose stock was destroying valuable Indian root grounds. According to Russell Freedman's Indian Chiefs, Washakie told his people: "You must not fight the whites. I not only advise against it, I forbid it!" The settlers were so appreciative of Washakie's assistance that 9, 000 of them signed a document commending the Shoshonis and their chief. He was even on friendly terms with the Mormon leader "Big-Um" or Brigham Young.

 

 

1858 - Between the fall of 1858 and the spring of 1859, Washakie fought at the Battle of Crowheart Butte, the climax of the intertribal warfare between the Shoshonis and the Crows. He also met and became friends with famous mountain man Jim Bridger and Missouri hunter, trapper and guide Christopher "Kit" Carson.

 

1863 - Washakie led his people to the safety of Fort Bridger, keeping them out of the Americans' Bear River Campaign against Bear Hunter's band of Northwestern Shoshonis.

 

1863 - In exchange for a 20-year-long payment agreement, Washakie signed the Treaty of Fort Bridger, guaranteeing U.S. travelers safe passage through his band's territory. His good relations with the U.S. government made it possible for him to secure the Wind River reservation, in present-day Wyoming, for the Eastern Shoshonis.

 

1868 - Washakie signed a second treaty establishing the 3 million-acre reservation; his people had given up their claims to other lands in Wyoming and Utah for the reservation, a remnant of their traditional territory. He also agreed to a clear path through the Green River Valley for the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

 

 

1860's-1870's    -Even after the Shoshoni treaties were signed, the Sioux continued to hunt and raid the Eastern Shoshonis' reservation. Washakie complained to the U.S. Army, but they did little to stop the Sioux, adding to the  the chief already felt towards his traditional enemies. Washakie had old scores to settle with the Sioux: they had raided his people's villages many times and killed and scalped his oldest son. Later, when the army requested assistance in their war against the Sioux, Washakie jumped at the proposition.

 

 

1878 - But the United States did not always satisfy Washakie. the government decided to put Chief Black Coal's Northern Arapahos on the Wind River reservation. The Arapahos were traditional enemies of the Shoshonis, but since they were destitute and starving Washakie agreed to let them stay on his reservation for a limited time. In spite of Washakie's protests, the Arapahos' temporary stay turned into a permanent one. Washakie had other complaints against the government; he objected to white hunters killing off large numbers of deer and antelope on the reservation. He also protested against trespassing gold miners and cowboys who were rustling the Shoshonis' cattle. Washakie reminded officials that the government had promised to keep both whites and other Indian tribes off Shoshoni land, but his arguments seemed to fall on deaf ears.

 

 

1882-1884 - He is said to have enjoyed looking at a framed photograph of himself hanging on the wall of a reservation store. Washakie was also proud of his possessions. With the help of his son Charlie, he painted pictures of his war exploits and then decorated his cabin with them. He was especially fond of a handsome saddle, decorated in silver, given to him by President Ulysses S. Grant. And he proudly posed for photographs wearing a silver peace medal sent to him by President Andrew Johnson. Always popular with politicians, Washakie was visited by President Chester A. Arthur.

 

Washakie's peaceful relations with Anglo-Americans kept the Eastern Shoshoni from experiencing the devastating effects of removal to the Indian Territory, located in what is today the state of Oklahoma. Their alliance with the Americans also kept the Native American band from suffering casualties at the hands of the U.S. Army. Washakie's cooperation with the Americans benefited his people more than a war with the white settlers could have.

 

1897 - Washakie was baptized an Episcopalian. He died three years later at Flathead Village in Montana's Bitterroot Valley and was buried with full military honors at Fort Washakie, Wyoming. In a life that spanned nearly an entire century, he had married twice and fathered at least 12 children, including a son, Cocoosh (Dick Washakie), who succeeded him as chief of the Eastern Shoshonis.

 

1900 - 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 , as mentioned,  he was given a full military funeral, the only known Native American to be given one.

 

 

1942 - During WW II, a 422 foot Liberty Ship SS Chief Washakie was named in his honor and built in Portland, OR.

 

 

2000 - the state of Wyoming donated a bronze statue of Washakie to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

 

 

 

 


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Page last updated: 1:05pm, 26th Mar '09