Wyoming’s Colorful Eastern Shoshone Family Portrait, Historic Cemetery and Dramatic Wind River

Visiting Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.  Proud members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe posed with their beautiful families, I had a moving shooting opportunity at the tribe’s remote and historic cemetery, and (miraculously!) I was at the right place at the right time when a train came roaring through a mountainside tunnel in the spectacular Wind River Canyon.

Above, Kaylei Weed, her sons Earl Lebeau (left) and Baptiste Lebeau, and her mother, Elaine Ethel Weed — all members of the Eastern Shoshone tribe at the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming’s Wind River Basin. The reservation was established for the Eastern Shoshone in 1863 following a unique treaty with Shoshone Chief Washakie, admired by Indians and whites alike, that allowed his people to choose the site of their reservation, on 45 million acres in the land that their ancestors had occupied on a seasonal basis for thousands of years. (The vast size was dramatically reduced to 3 million acres in a subsequent, 1868 treaty). The reservation is unique in another way as well: It is also home to a second, unrelated tribe: the Northern Arapahoe, who were placed on the reservation in 1878 with a promise, never fulfilled, of their own reservation in the future.) The two tribes are governed separately but cooperate, sometimes reluctantly, on matters of mutual interest such as water and mineral rights. This image is featured in the Carol M. Highsmith America Collection at the Library of Congress. 

Scene in the wild prairie grass at the old Eastern Shoshone tribal cemetery outside Fort Washakie, Wyoming. This image is featured in the Carol M. Highsmith America Collection at the Library of Congress.

A freight train emerges from a tunnel in the rocks of the Wind River Valley that runs roughly from Shoshoni up to Thermopolis in north-central Wyoming. At the “Wedding of the Waters” toward the north end of the canyon, the Wind River gives way to the larger Bighorn River. This image is in the Carol M. Highsmith America Collection at the Library of Congress.

Share