Washakie was born in 1804. His father was a Flathead but his mother was a member of the Shoshone tribe. He developed a reputation as a fierce warrior against rival tribes such as the Sioux and Blackfeet. However he developed a policy of friendship with white settlers and the American government. He was hired by both the Hudson's Bay Company and American Fur Company and worked as a guide for white trappers.
Washakie eventually became chief of the Shoshone. His record of friendship towards the authorities allowed him to negotiate good treaties for his people. In 1868 he obtained the White River Valley Reservation in Wyoming, and area still rich in buffalo.
In 1876 Washakie supplied scouts and warriors to help the United States army to defeat the Sioux . President Ulysses Grant was so pleased with Washakie's contribution to the Indian Wars that he presented him with an expensive saddle.
Washakie died on 20th February, 1920. He was buried with full military honours at Fort Washakie, Wyoming.