Sherman Coolidge, a Northern Arapaho adopted and educated by whites, served 26 years as an Episcopal priest on the reservation on Wind River. During that time, he largely allied himself with government over tribal interests. But later, active in the pan-Indian movement, he came to value preservation of Indian cultures over assimilation.
wind river reservation
wind river reservation
A century ago there were hundreds of boarding schools for American Indian children. Many were on reservations, and many were run by religious orders; there were three on what’s now the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Others were intentionally built far from tribal homelands, to separate children from their languages, lands and families.
Tribal sovereignty, retained by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho since before Wyoming statehood,governs wildlife conservation on the more than two million acres of tribal lands on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Game populations have increased steadily since a tribal game code was adopted in 1984.
In 1905, Congress ratified an agreement with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho by which the tribes ceded 1.5 million acres of reservation land north of the Big Wind River. Tribal leaders questioned the final terms, however, and payments were slow in coming and fell far short of promised levels.
With the buffalo gone and poverty, hunger and disease increasing, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes came under intense pressure in the 1890s to sell their land. In 1896, they sold the U.S. government a piece of their reservation ten miles square—including the splendid hot springs at present Thermopolis, Wyo.
Congress in 1887 passed the Dawes Act, setting up a framework for dividing up tribal lands on reservations into plots to be held by individual Indian owners, after which they could be leased or sold to anyone. Critics saw it as a method clearly intended to transfer lands out of Indian hands.
In 1913, department-store tycoon Rodman Wanamaker and photographer Joseph Dixon hatched the idea of a statue of an American Indian in New York harbor higher than the Statue of Liberty—as a memorial to what they saw as a “vanishing race.” Dixon subsequently toured and photographed 89 Indian reservations—including Wyoming’s Shoshone Reservation—leaving a valuable record.
In the 1860s, the Eastern Shoshone people signed two treaties with the U.S. government. The first set aside vast holdings for them. Just five years later, as the transcontinental railroad was approaching, a second treaty established a Shoshone reservation in the Wind River valley—with less than a tenth the earlier amount of land.