WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Wind River Indian Reservation

Wind River Indian Reservation

The Wind River Indian Reservation is the primary site of most of John Roberts’s life and ministry. The reservation communities of Fort Washakie and Ethete are central to the story. Trout Creek Road, Fremont County 252, which turns southwest off US 287 at Fort Washakie, is the turnoff for the Roberts Mission and Sacagawea Cemetery. It is the continuation of the road from Ethete after it reaches U. S. 287. Hine’s Store, a gas station and convenience store, marks the junction. Travel west for about eight miles and you will come to the mission grounds located on the left. The historic Church of the Redeemer has been moved here, and the remains of the Shoshone Mission School for girls are also at this spot.

Also located there is the Chapel of the Holy Saint’s John, which was the chapel for the school. The log building behind the chapel also served as the Roberts family residence. The mission grounds today also contain the present Episcopal Church, known as Saint David’s, and a parish hall. The outbuildings and the old orchard remain from the days of the mission. A historic marker is located on the site. This is the 160-acre plot donated by Chief Washakie. If the chapel is open, note the baptismal font located in the doorway that was dedicated to Washakie. There is no charge, and there is rarely anyone at the site. Church services are held on Sunday, and visitors are more than welcome to attend.

Shortly after the turnoff to the mission on Trout Creek Road, there is a right hand turn.  Take the turn and travel north to reach the Sacagawea Cemetery. It is on the left and can’t be missed. It is here that Sacagawea of Lewis and Clark fame is said to be buried. Her grave is prominently marked. This is the Shoshone tribe’s main burial ground and the graves speak for themselves. A recently dedicated statue honoring Sacagawea has been constructed on the north side of the cemetery. The old log structure off the parking area was once the original worship place for the Episcopal Church before John Roberts’s arrival. Visitors are welcome to visit the cemetery.

When in the agency headquarters of Fort Washakie, you can travel west for about a mile until you reach the old military cemetery on the right side of the road. This is the burial place of Chief Washakie. Other Shoshones are buried there as well, but the U. S. Army graves have since been removed. The Wind River Agency headquarters are located in Fort Washakie proper.

The final site to visit is in Ethete. Just south of the traffic light in the center of the community is Saint Michael’s Mission. The buildings are set out in a circle honoring Arapaho tradition. The post office is located in the circle as well as the “Our Father’s House” church. The church is a log structure with a picture window overlooking the Wind River Mountains. The Chapel of the Transfiguration in Jackson Hole was modeled after this building. Visitors are welcome at church services and may tour the building if there is anyone present.