Several months ago, I drove to the "upper country" for a quilt show. On my way home, I decided photograph this famous and distinctive landmark - Crowheart Butte. The flat-topped butte was named to commemorate a battle between Shoshone tribe's Chief Washakie and the Crow tribe's Chief, Big Robber. Chief Washakie won the battle and cut out the heart of his opponent; thus, the name, Crowheart Butte.
Even though Chief Washakie was a fearless warrior, he was also a peacemaker and a progressive leader. He saw the expansion of the West and was determined to be an ally of white men. He assisted U.S. Army operations, with military forces and advice, against hostile tribes, particularly the Sioux and Cheyenne. Washakie granted right-of-way through Shoshone land in western Wyoming to the Union Pacific Railroad, aiding the completion of a coast-to-coast rail line.
The Shoshone chief also sought the best for his people, requesting schools, churches, and hospitals on Shoshone lands. He also pushed for a reservation in his beloved “Warm Valley” (Wind River Valley) which had been given to the Crows, enemies of the Shoshones, in the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. In 1868 the United States, determining that the Crows had broken treaty terms, gave the valley to the Shoshone Indians at the Fort Bridger Treaty Council. This reservation is called the Wind River Indian Reservation. In 1896, Washakie ceded lands bounding mineral hot springs near Thermopolis for public use, requesting that a portion of the waters be set aside for free use by people of all races. That treaty is still honored.
This roadside sign briefly explains the historical significance of Crowheart Butte. (Click the photo to enlarge the image enough to read the information.)