A PIECE OR TWO OF WYOMING HISTORY

After one year of getting organized after our move to the new house there are still many boxes to check out, or should I say to clean out and perhaps toss away. Always a hard decision to keep or toss.  Trying to toss more these days!

So when cleaning out a box of old memories, high school stuff, etc. I ran across an old yellowed newspaper from the Wyoming State Journal, published in Lander, Wyo. on July 1, 1948. I was living in Riverton by then, but still had interest in what was happening in Lander. The traditional pioneer celebration was always July 4  so the paper was filled with stories from the pioneer days. I was attracted to an article about an interview with Father Roberts, the pioneer Rector of the Episcopal Mission. He came to the area in 1883 and was 95 at the time of the interview.  Two very fascinating questions were asked of him and his deep knowledge, especially of the Arapahoe and Shoshone history, gathered over more than 65 years of service, was of great interest to me.  You may know that with the help of Sandra DelMonte whose father-in-law, Harold DelMonte collected a complete history of Chief Washakie that  provided the narration for a DVD I made telling the story of his life using art work by a famous western artist.  Father Roberts was close to Chief Washakie and to members of the Arapahoe tribe. He tells of  a part of their history as passed down by the tidal elders. 

The story of the origination of the Arapahoe in North America was provided in the interview.  As passed down the generations, the Arapahoes said they made the long journey over the frozen water linking Asia with North America and then worked their way south to the plains of America. They said they were persecuted in Asia by barbarians and to save their lives they made the long journey across the Bearing Sea.  They called their home the New Land. An interesting footnote is that the Arapahoe indicate that their name was not Arapahoe, a name given to them by other Native Americans related to a special “tattoo” the men of the tribe gave to themselves using a sharp animal bone to open the skin on their chest and then rubbing in some charcoal. Ouch!!

Another tidbit of the interview with Father Roberts involved his personal meeting with Sacajawea who spent her last years with the Shoshone people. This meeting seems to confirm the claim that she is buried near Fort Washakie. By the way, Chief Washakie told Father Roberts his real name was too hard to pronounce for the army officers of his time so he changed it to Washakie to accommodate them. (See DVD Cover Photo below)

All in all I found the article on the interview with Father Roberts to be fascinating as I am always interested in the history of Fremont County and the surrounding area, the area of my growing up.  All a part of the wonderful history of Wyoming!

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