This bronze sculpture captures the moment when Chief Washakie first raises his lance challenging Crow Chief Big Robber to a duel.
The Battle of Crowheart Butte was ignited when Crow Chief Big Robber and his braves refused to leave an area near this unique geological outcropping at the middle northern boundary of the present-day Wind River Reservation. Game had become increasingly scarce in other areas, with more tribes looking to the Wind River Valley for their winter supply of meat. Like the Shoshone, the Crow believed that this was their territory too. When the Crow moved in to hunt, Washakie allowed them to stay for several weeks. Eventually, however, Washakie sent one of his best warriors and the warriors wife as a peace envoy with a message telling Big Robber that it was time to move east toward the Owl Creek Mountains.
The Crow chiefs response was to kill the Shoshone scout as the woman watched helplessly. Big Robber then sent her home to relate the horrific scene to Chief Washakie. Although Washakie considered Big Robber to be a very strong opponent who was revered among his people for his steadfast bravery, the Shoshone chief immediately organized a war party of men he had trained personally to military precision and set out to attack the band of Crow camped on the Big Wind River near the Kinnear Ranch. A group of Bannocks joined Washakie in his attack on the Crow. Although taken by surprise, the Crow proved to be formidable adversaries for Washakies men, and the two sides fought for nearly an week without resolution. Finally, realizing that both chiefs were losing too many warriors, Washakie approached Big Robber with a proposition: the two chiefs would fight each other. The warriors of the losing chief would forfeit the hunting lands and go home.
Fearless and menacing, Washakie rode close to the Crow chief and taunted him: "You and I will fight. And when I beat you, I will cut out your heart. And I will eat it!" As the Shoshone and Crow warriors gathered on opposite sides to watch, the two chieftains rode back and forth taunting and yelling at each other.
As the fight raged on, it became impossible to distinguish one from the other in the distant haze of dust. Finally, Washakie emerged with Big Robbers heart on the end of his lance, determining the winner. True to his word, Washakie had indeed cut out the dead chiefs heart, but his descendants say he did not eat it. Instead, he displayed it until after the Shoshone victory dance that night. Out of respect for the triumphant Washakie, the Crow gave him two young women. He later took one of them as his wife.