Lander is adjacent to Wyoming’s only Native American Reservation, the Wind River Indian Reservation.
For thousands of years, the Shoshone, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Lakota, Dakota, and others have lived in the area now known as Wind River Country. The 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty established lands adjacent to what is now the Wind River Indian Reservation for Arapaho and other tribes. During the 1860s, respected Shoshone leader Chief Washakie negotiated for the lands of the Warm Valley (as the Wind River Valley was known to the Shoshone) to be the reservation for the Eastern Shoshone people. A treaty in 1863 established loose boundaries for a nearly 45-million-acre reservation. The Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 formally created the Shoshone Indian Reservation and significantly reduced its size to approximately 2.8 million acres.
In 1878, the U.S. Government placed the Northern Arapaho on the Shoshone Indian Reservation for “temporary keeping.” The government failed to move the Northern Arapaho to a reservation of their own and, in 1938, the Shoshone Indian Reservation became the Wind River Indian Reservation. Today, Wind River Indian Reservation is home to both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
Chief Washakie, Shoshone, lived from about 1808 until 1900 and saw the world change. He fought alongside the U.S. Army and was given his choice of a reservation—choosing the Wind River Valley. Nearby Fort Washakie is the only U.S. military outpost named after a Native American.
CHIEF BLACK COAL
Chief Black Coal participated in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and later became the principal chief of the Northern Arapaho. Chief Black Coal and Chief Sharp Nose traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1877 to meet President Hayes and secured permission to relocate to the Shoshone Reservation.
CHIEF SHARP NOSE
Chief Sharp Nose belonged to the “Bad Pipes” band of Northern Arapaho. He was a brave, loyal warrior and also a good orator. He officially became chief in 1893, after the death of famous chief Black Coal.
Sacajawea is one of America’s most famous women. As a young Shoshone, she guided the Lewis and Clark expedition on its historical expedition across North America. She and her sons are now buried with their people, with a large statue in her honor, in nearby Fort Washakie.
WHAT LOCALS HAVE TO SAY
Patricia Bergie, Eastern Shoshone Elder“From my tribal ancestors, travel has always been a part of our being. So we appreciate others who travel this land with and among us; to enjoy the land’s beauty and respect its continual offering to us with fresh air, water, plants, and animals who inhabit this wonderful place.”
“Walk with awareness, be mindful and respectful.”
-Al Burson, Northern Arapaho elder
The public is welcome and invited to share in the cultural and historical sites and public events on the Wind River Indian Reservation.