Many Church members from around the globe were first introduced to Chief Washakie during excursions to This Is the Place Monument in Salt Lake City. The legendary Shoshoni leader is included among the Spanish explorers, mountain men, Brigham Young and other pioneer Church leaders depicted in Mahonri Young's massive tribute to the settlement of Utah.
Now visitors to the Museum of Church History and Art can also be reminded of Chief Washakie's contribution to the Church and his special friendship with fellow frontier leader, President Young.
Descendents of Chief Washakie, who was a member of the Church, recently donated a bronze sculpture of the Native American leader to the museum. The bronze was sculpted by Utah artist Peter Fillerup and will belong to the Museum's permanent collection.
"Now, many people will be able to see the beauty of this work and know the contributions of Chief Washakie," said Elder Richard E. Turley Sr., a member of the Seventy who spoke at the June 22 presentation ceremony at the museum.
Chief Washakie, considered one of the most prominent men in Wyoming history, was highly regarded by Brigham Young because of his friendship with the white pioneers. He and his people helped Mormon travelers passing through Shoshoni country.
"Washakie was an Indian chief who had a significant impact on the Mormon migration," said museum director Glen Leonard. "His friendship with Brigham Young and his conversion brought the Church to his people."
Many who attended the presentation ceremony were direct descendants of Chief Washakie, including his great-granddaughter, Zedora Enos.
"I'm very grateful for my heritage and hope I can live like [Chief Washakie] lived," Sister Enos said. "I know Chief Washakie is here today with his friend, Brigham Young."
James Trosper, another descendent, commented on Chief Washakie's contribution to the Church and his trust of the early LDS community.
Peter Fillerup, a Wyoming native, said he was raised with stories of the legendary leader and praised Chief Washakie's descendents for "helping me get the energy and spirit of this great man."