Chief Washakie (born circa 1804-1810, died 1900)
"His prowess in battle, his efforts for peace, and his commitment to his people's welfare made him one of the most respected leaders in Native American history." (Wikipedia)
In the oil on linen, the chief is almost life-size. A commission, the 24x30-inch painting resides in a Wyoming home. I hope it honors the great dignity of the chief.
I give special thanks to my contact in the archives of the Nebraska State Historical Society, Laura Mooney, Senior Museum Curator. She unwrapped headdresses and peace pipes for me to study. At the museum I also studied a circle-tin decoration like the one worn by the chief. I was able to study doeskin (for the headdress brow band) in a hunter's shop.
His pipe stem has horsehair decoration tied round the soft wood, which was likely ash or basswood. The warm, muted tones of his carved pipe arose from Daniel Smith brand of Minnesota Pipestone, which is exactly the same shade as the stone that the Plains Indians revered for the making of their pipes. The oil paint is a combination of ground pipestone, linseed oil, and modern synthetics. When rubbed with oil by its carver, a pipe took on a reddish cast similar to iron oxide.
Often the Ute and Shoshone tribes used pipestone that was white-on-green-marbled-cupric pipestone found in Wyoming and South Dakota. Often tribe members traded for the warm-earth-colored Catlinite pipestone from the sacred site in Minnesota (now called Pipestone National Monument). The long pipe barrel led me to guess Minnesota pipestone, since Ute and Shoshone pipe barrels were often short and squat. Catlinite is a type of argillite (metamorphosed mudstone) that occurs in a matrix of Quartzite.
The spotted tail feathers are from immature (subadult) golden eagles, the kind of feathers most sought by warriors of the past. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Eagle Repository, makes quality, loose feathers available to enrolled members of Federally recognized tribes. "Native Americans may give feathers or other eagle items as gifts to other Native Americans and may hand them down within their families. They may not, however, give them to non-Native Americans."
Historical black and white photos show the chief wearing a plaid shirt. I researched the colors of Woolrich plaids on cotton (calico) shirts of the time period and considered the colors of the natural dyes used then.
In September 2018, I visited the Washakie Museum in Worland, Wyoming, and drove through the incredible Wind River Canyon.
I recommend a Wyoming PBS film titled "Washakie: Last Chief of the Eastern Shoshone."
"Deep in the basement of Chicago’s Field Museum’s Anthropology Department lie thousands of artifacts removed from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Wyoming over a hundred years ago."
URL = http://www.alpheusmedia.com/blog/view/the_myth_of_the_vanishing_race
The Anthropology Department hosted a special visit to the collections by elders from the Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone tribes from Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
URL = https://www.fieldmuseum.org/node/1366
A wonderful resource
URL = http://jacksonholehistory.org/chief-washakie-of-the-shoshone-a-photographic-essay-by-henry-e-stamm-iv-ph-d/
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February 16th, 2019
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