If you’re in town for Cheyenne Frontier Days, take a side trip to the Wyoming State Library at 2800 Central Ave. to see its distinguished visitor “Chief Washakie,” a bronze by sculptor Dave McGary (1958-2013), the smaller version of the two that are housed in the Wyoming State Capitol and in the U.S. Capitol Visitors’ Center Emancipation Hall. The statue is on temporary loan to the WSL and currently graces the library’s main reading room.
According to Architect of the Capitol, Washakie, born around 1800, was a renowned warrior. Around the year 1840, he united several Shoshone bands. Realizing that the expansion of white civilization into the West was inevitable, he negotiated with the army and the Shoshone to ensure the preservation of over three million acres in Wyoming’s Wind River country for his people—this valley remains the home of the Shoshone today. Upon his death in 1900, he became the only known Native American to be given a full military funeral.
Washakie also successfully negotiated for part of the hot springs in Thermopolis to remain free and open to the public in perpetuity.
While you’re here, you can peruse the Congressional records, treaties, federal documents, and other resources pertaining to the Shoshone and other Native American peoples. Also on display at the State Library is the “Two Nations” exhibit from Wyoming Humanities–ThinkWY that details the history of the Wind River Indian Reservation.
You can take a virtual visit, too, and read accounts of Chief Washakie in Wyoming Newspapers (newspapers.wyo.gov). With a Wyoming library card or in a Wyoming library you can also explore the many resources available in GoWYLD.net.
Either way, know that our librarians are always available to help you find information. Stop by the front desk if you’re in the building, or contact us at (307) 777-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.