Post No. 5 Felcitas and Chief Washakie


(This post is out of order in terms of the calendar; it’s been soaking within for days.)

 This kind of experience is why travel offers us something one cannot otherwise obtain. Yes, there were more than a few dollars spent to get to the experience, but the extremely valuable experience itself was offered, and gratefully received.

The State Bath House of Wyoming is the smallest of the three options for trying the “healing waters” of Thermopolis, WY. The area just beyond the pools is layer upon layer of mineral deposit sandwiches, looking something like a rock version of Jabba the Hut.

The other two options have water slides, etc. and large full-size swimming pools along with soaking pools. I had no idea which was which, but since all I sought was a brief soak in the “waters”, I choose the State Bath House of Wyoming.  As the woman at the desk who greeted me said, “The price is right. It’s free.” And then she told me about Chief Washakie. As part of the Treaty of 1896 it continues to be required that there be free access to these waters. And there is.


“The Shoshone and Arapaho tribes gave Wyoming the hot springs in a treaty in 1896, with the provision it remain accessible to the general public with charge. You can still visit the State Bath House in Hot Springs State Park free of charge.”

 Chief Washakie, Eastern Shoshone, “Shoots the Buffalo Running”

We recognized each other to be women of some kind of shared view on life. At first, she asked me “Are you Native American?” (It is an honor to be asked that. My honest answer is that I don’t think so, but that I hang out with Native People whenever they allow me to do so.)

Thus, there was a wonderful conversation about how she, who is Arapaho and Mexican was there, with her (beige) husband, because these waters are healing. And she was there to bless them with the blessings of the Four Directions.  We talked about the waters in a spiritual way. Such a gift. It made being there in that pool, because of its origins more than just being on vacation, etc.

Arapaho name for “white”…”Blue Eyed Angels” vs. Lakota (via Martin Brokenleg) People who wear bad clothes, (bad clothes = clothes that don’t make a sound, no bells, shells, etc.

At first we talked “Indian Country”… who is from where.  And I had just seen the sign for the Trail of the Sand Creek Massacre.  (It is one of the things we dealt with in that Doctrine of Discovery video I worked on. O so horrific! To be in that place is not a comfortable place to be. More like Blue Eyed Devils!)


“BLUE  (or green) it (inan. subj.) is blue: ceeneeteeyoo’; he (she) is (painted) blue: ceeneeteeneiht;  sky blue: hono’ceneeteeyoo’; dark blue: biikooceneeteeyoo’; green (“grass blue”): wonooxotiiceneeteeyoo’

WHITE it is white: nonoocoo’; it is turning white: nonookunoo’oo’; it is white (anim. subj.): nonookeiht; it was white: nihnoocoo’; I have white hair: nonooke’einoo; my hair is turning white: nonooke’ei’onoo; white man: nih’oo3oo; white mouse: nookookuu


At one point she told me where she told me her name, “Felicitas” and she said it in Spanish, not English. And then we switched to Spanish and had a whole other layer of conversation en Espa~ol.

I don’t know if Pilgrimage is “supposed” to be about seeking something specific and know beforehand, or rather perhaps this being able to recognize the unplanned for gift when it shows up. How so few minutes make such a deep impression. Thanks be to God for Chief Washakie, the Shoshone and Arapaho people, and Felicitas, the healing waters of Wyoming!

About kathrynrickert

Possibly from watching the movie Bambie at the age of 6, I have had a life-long awareness that saying ONLY nice things, does not make the world just or kind. Thus, my 2009 doctoral dissertation..."Talking Back to God" , is one of the main aspects of the work I do. Always interdisciplinary, seeking connections across borders that are usually marked with DO NOT ENTER, I seek to pay attention, pray, think, create,and imagine using biblical laments, Christian worship texts, and the ordinary stuff of everyday life.
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