The Wind River Indian Reservation spans 2.2 million acres and is home to 2,500 Eastern Shoshone and more than 5,000 Northern Arapaho Indians. Although the two tribes own and govern the reservation jointly, most of the Shoshone live in the western half around Fort Washakie, while the Arapahos are centered around Ethete and Arapahoe.
Fort Washakie is the oldest community on the reservation.
Originally called Fort Brown, the name was changed in 1878 to honor Chief Washakie, who negotiated the treaty establishing the reservation. The legendary Buffalo Soldiers-the name given to U.S. Cavalrymen of African descent-were stationed at Fort Washakie in the late 1800s. Today many of the original military buildings can be seen in the Fort Washakie Historic District.
Fort Washakie is home to the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center and the cemeteries where both Chief Washakie and Lewis and Clark's Shoshone guide, Sacajawea, are buried. You will also find a number of trading posts and gift stores that specialize in locally made Indian artwork, including hand-tanned leather goods, beadwork, and drums. The Chief Washakie Plunge-a pool fed by a natural hotspring-is open year-round to the public.
Ethete and St. Stephens are the centers of Arapaho culture on the reservation.
The Heritage Center at St. Stephens and the Arapaho Cultural Museum in Ethete both provide insight into the tribe and its traditions. You can also buy local Native American crafts and beadwork at the St. Stephens Art Center.
Powwows offer one of the best ways to learn about life on the Wind River Reservation.
Open to the public, these gatherings occur throughout the summer. Powwows are dance contests and celebrations. Tribal members go to meet friends, dance, catch up on the news and honor the past. Each of the reservation communities host powwows. For a complete listing, see the calendar of events link.
Wind River District
Wind River Heritage Center
Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center
Northern Arapaho Tribe