Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
July 15, 2000 - Issue 14

Shoshone Chief to be Latest Statue in
U.S. Capital
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

Back in the mid-1800s, Chief Washakie united Shoshone warriors and European settlers, using his command of French, English and tribal dialects and becoming a statesman among Native Americans. A century and a half later, his regal, feathered, bronze likeness is about to find a home in the U.S. Capitol.

Congress voted recently to accept Wyoming's statue of Chief Washakie as the 97th figure in the Capitol's statuary collection, which began in 1864.

Washakie, born in 1798, became a Shoshone chief in 1840 after years of success in tribal battles. He negotiated the July 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty, which resulted in creation of the Wind River reservation in west-central Wyoming. It is still the largest Indian reservation in the country with 3 million acres. He died Feb. 20, 1900, at the age of 102, an active leader respected by both his people and the U.S. government, which gave him a full military funeral.

"I think he would have been happy to be honored in this way," said Wyoming's James Trosper, Washakie's great-great-grandson.

In 1997, Trosper convinced Wyoming's legislature to honor Washakie with the state's second statue in the U.S. Capitol. Each state can donate two.

A committee of 20 legislators, citizens and members of Washakie's family raised funds for the project and chose Wyoming artist Gary McGary to sculpt the statue.

McGary made 75 16-inch models that sold for $5,000 apiece and 50 28-inch models that sold for $15,000 each. About 100 of the models have been sold and the money is being used to build the full-size statue. Wyoming's 90 state legislators contributed personal funds to buy a 28-inch model.

The 7-foot bronze statue destined for the Capitol is on a 4-foot marble base and cost $54,000. Both the House and Senate voted this week to accept it from Gov. Jim Geringer on behalf of the people of Wyoming. It will be unveiled on Sept. 7 in an as-yet-undetermined spot in the Capitol.

Rearrangements in 1933 and 1976 left only 38 figures in the National Statuary Hall because of overcrowding and weight. Others stand throughout the Capitol - the last to be added was a likeness of astronaut Jack Swigert from Colorado in 1997.

Washakie will be the third Native American in the collection and joins Sequoyah, donated in 1917, and Will Rogers, who was part Native American, donated in 1939. Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota are the only states that have not yet contributed their second statue.

Chief Washakie

Fort Washakie

Wind River Historical Center



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