Washington -- A striking sculpture of Wyoming's Chief Washakie was dedicated today in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol with a colorful and stirring ceremony set to the beat of pounding tribal drums. Ceremony participants included U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, U.S. Senator Craig Thomas, Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, former U.S. Senator Al Simpson, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, and several Washakie family members.
The statue of Chief Washakie is Wyoming's second contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. The first was a sculpture of women's suffrage leader Esther Hobart Morris. Each state is allowed to have two statues.
U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin served as master of ceremonies for the dedication. "Chief Washakie's wisdom, dedication and spiritual leadership are just as much a model for us today as they were over 100 years ago. The commitment he had to seeking the best for his people - building schools, churches and hospitals on Shoshone land - serves as a testament to a great man. I am proud to have been part of this historic ceremony and thank the people of Wyoming for making it a reality," Cubin said.
"From today forward, Chief Washakie, a great warrior and even greater peacemaker, will stand proudly inside our country's symbol of freedom and democracy to represent Wyoming to the rest of the world," U.S. Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyo) said during the ceremony. "The statue of Chief Washakie is a fitting and bold addition that will serve as a unique reminder of this nation's history."
"Whenever I think of Chief Washakie I will always be reminded of the wisdom of the Native American adage 'We have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children.' If we understand the wisdom of Chief Washakie and of all those gathered in these halls, we understand the fact that one person can make a big difference in this world. Chief Washakie did make a difference and today we welcome him and place him in our nation's most sacred place of honor," said U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).
The ceremony, which featured traditional Eastern Shoshone and Flathead dancing, music and prayers, is scheduled for broadcast on C-SPAN. More information on the broadcast is available on the web at c-span.org for schedule details.
The text of Senator Enzi's statement follows:
Welcoming Ceremony for the
Statue of Chief Washakie to
Statuary Hall, The United States Capitol
It is a great pleasure and a privilege for me to have this opportunity to welcome all of you to this ceremony during which we will welcome and accept this gift of Chief Washakie of Wyoming to Statuary Hall.
This beautiful statue is the work of Dave McGary, a sculptor born in Wyoming who has studied with the finest bronze craftsmen in the world. His sculpture can be found in many of the finest public and private collections around the world and now his latest work takes its place in this most remarkable collection of art in the world, the United States Capitol.
Chief Washakie makes an excellent addition to our national treasure trove on display here in Washington. He is also an excellent companion to our other contribution to these beautiful halls, Esther Hobart Morris. Wyoming is known as the Equality State and it is now well represented by a great Native American Chief and a woman who fought so diligently for equal rights and the right of women to vote. She so moved the conscience of our state that Wyoming became the first state in which a woman was chosen to serve in a statewide office, and the first to give women the right to vote.
Chief Washakie, too, has a wonderful story to share with us that includes his kindness and compassion when faced with the arrival of settlers from the East out to blaze a trail West and find a new way of life. Chief Washakie understood the Pioneer Spirit. Instead of fighting them for the land, a battle that he knew would have many losers and no winners, he instead offered his help and provided the settlers with safe passage to the West. He also offered his assistance to the Army and served with distinction as one of its scouts. That is why he was buried with military honors when he died. In fact, he is the only Native American Chief to be so honored.
Great individuals like Chief Washakie and Esther Hobart Norris remind us of our past and encourage us to build on their efforts to make a more promising future for us all. That is why, for me, the Capitol is more than the place where our nation's leaders meet to govern the nation, it is a classroom for the young people of our nation and the repository not only of our history but of the spirit that made this nation great as well.
Walk down these halls and you will meet the people who used their tools and talents to make a difference in their towns, their communities, their states and this nation. Will Rogers and Henry Clay, John Calhoun and the heroes of the American Revolution, you will find them all here -- and many more. Anyone who wants to understand the history of the United States and the principles that helped us to establish this nation can learn it by studying the art in the United States Capitol. When you do, you will learn that our nation was built one person at a time, each giving our own unique contributions to a cause greater than ourselves. Coming from so many different traditions and walks of life we established ourselves as a nation of hope and promise - where anyone could grow up and become anything they wanted to - if they were willing to work hard and pay the price to succeed. Many have - and you will find they are well represented here in the Capitol.
Today we add Chief Washakie to our unique collection in the Capitol to ensure that the contributions of our Native Americans to our nation's culture and our shared heritage will never be forgotten. One thing he will always be remembered for is his dedication to education and his determination that his people be educated in good schools. It's a challenge we still face today.
He also knew full well the folly of war and the importance of peaceful relations between his people and the U.S. government. The respect he garnered from his work for peace allowed him to ensure that the children on the reservation would have good schools to attend. The schools he worked to establish encouraged the bridging of the old and the new -- respect for the established traditions of the past and hope for the promise of a brighter future for us all.
Chief Washakie continued to be a leader of his people and a friend to those who needed him until his death in 1900 at the age of 102. He remained active and vital up until his death and now, with the addition of his statue to the Capitol, he remains a vital part of our culture and he will continue to inspire and challenge us to change the world -- or at least our own little corner of it.
Whenever I think of Chief Washakie I will always be reminded of the wisdom of the Native American adage, We have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children. If we understand the wisdom of Chief Washakie and of all those gathered in these halls, we understand the fact that one person can make a big difference in this world. In fact, we are surrounded by examples of the truth of that. Chief Washakie did make a difference and today we welcome him and place him in our nation's most sacred place of honor as we fulfill a promise borne from a life of friendship, cooperation, trust and understanding that Chief Washakie and his work will never be forgotten.