Washakie, chief of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and also a scout of the United States Army, was one of the most respected leaders of Native American History. What helped that statement was his prowess in battle, his efforts for peace, and his commitment to his people’s welfare. Washakie will always be remembered for his clear vision and strong leadership in an extremely difficult era.
Washakie was born somewhere from 1804- 1810. He was originally born into the Flathead Tribe with the name Pina Quanah. Pina Quanah means Smell of Sugar. One day or night, the Blackfeet Indians attacked his tribe. Pina’s Father was killed. The surviving villagers left home at soon as they could. A Shoshone Tribe, called the Lemhis, took in Pina, his sister, his mother, and other family members. Later on, his mother and other family members rejoined the Flatheads; Pina and his sister remained with the Lemis.
Years later, Washakie joined the Bannocks, a tribe hostile to white men. Five years later after that, he joined the Green River Snake Indians. These Indians had peaceful relations with whites. Jim Bridger became close friends with Washakie during the 1830s. His daughter, Mary Washakie, became the third wife of Jim Bridger; around the 1850s. This friendship, perhaps, influenced Washakie’s decision to ally himself with the whites in exchange for their defense of his people against their Native American enemies.
Washakie became a noted warrior. His name has been translated in various ways; it depends on how he would deal with his tactics in battle. One story describes how Washakie devised a large rattle by placing stones in and inflated and dried balloon of buffalo hide which he tied on a stick. Washakie carried that device through each battle to frighten enemy horses. By doing that he earned the name “The Rattle.” Another translation of “Washakie”is “Shoots- on- the- Run.”
By 1850, Washakie was head chief of the Eastern Shoshones; earning the position by his deeds in battle and wise counsel. There are no records to show exactly when and under what conditions the decision was made. It has been thought that the various Shoshone Tribes may have united under one chief to deal with threats by hostile tribes, such as the Sioux and Cheyenne.
When Washakie became an ally of the white men, he decided early that warfare was pointless and a policy of adaptation and mutual assistance should be followed. With military forces and advice, Washakie assisted the United States Army Operations against hostile tribes (the Sioux and the Cheyenne). He granted right- of- way through the…