Washakie: Chief of the Shoshones

Washakie: Chief of the Shoshones

Washakie: Chief of the Shoshones

Washakie: Chief of the Shoshones


Washakie was chief of the eastern band of the Shoshone Indians for almost sixty years, until his death in 1900. A strong leader of his own people, he saw the wisdom of befriending the whites. Grace Raymond Hebard offers an engaging view of Washakie's long life and the early history of Shoeshone-occupied land--embracing present day Wyoming and parts of Montana, Idaho, and Utah. Washakie is seen signing historic treaties, aiding overland emigrants in the 1850s, and finally assisting whites in fighting the Sioux.


Richard O. Clemmer


Friend of emigrant, settler and soldier. Cooperator in the "transition of the West from savagery to civilization." Enemy of Blackfoot, Sioux, and Cheyenne. And "benevolent despot"--"a czar in determination though a kindly ruler." Thus does Grace Raymond Hebard describe Washakie. Fluent in French (and of course Shoshone) and conversant in English, he held the position of noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Under a law authorizing Indian scouts to enlist in the Army at the same rate of pay, with rations, as cavalry soldiers, he held the rank of private until his death in 1900 at the age of (probably) 98 or, according to Hebard, 102. He was also undisputed Chief of what was first a small band, and eventually a whole tribe that became nearly synonymous with his name: the Washakie Shoshones of Wind River.

Washakie exercised diplomatic skill in balancing the political and military scales of power in the Old West of mountain men and emigrants, of tribes that were friends as well those that were foes. Dr. Hebard's study of Washakie is not an in-depth, detailed, psychologically speculative and anecdotally titillating biography. It is, rather, one of the few solid, documented, authoritative biographies that we have of a Native American leader from the era of the "Indian wars," in which most of the heroic and antiheroic figures have been turned nearly into shadow dancers in myth and anti-myth.

Grace Raymond Hebard

Grace Hebard never knew, or even met Washakie. In a departure from her previous work, she focuses on a "great man" who had influenced enough history to be regarded in her eyes as one of the . . .

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