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Title: Shoshone-Bannock Subsistence and Society
Author: Murphy, Yolanda, Murphy, Robert F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shoshone-Bannock Subsistence and Society" ***

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    Editors (Berkeley): J. H. Rowe (C), R. F. Millon, D. M. Schneider

    Volume 16, No. 7, pp. 293-338, 1 map

    Submitted by editors September 4, 1959
    Issued November 23, 1960
    Price, $1.00

    University of California Press
    Berkeley and Los Angeles

    Cambridge University Press
    London, England

    Manufactured in the United States of America


During the years 1954 to 1957, the authors engaged in ethnographic and
historic research on the Shoshone and Bannock Indians under the
sponsorship of the Lands Division of the Department of Justice in
connection with one of a number of suits brought by Indian tribes for
compensation for territory lost to the advancing frontier. The action
was brought jointly by the Shoshone Indians of Wyoming, Idaho, Utah,
and Nevada, and the Bannock of Idaho; it excluded the Shoshonean
speakers of California, and the Bannock remained separate from the
suit brought by their colinguists, the Northern Paiute of Oregon and

Most anthropologists are aware of the ethnographic issues involved in
the Indian lands claims cases, for the profession has had an active
role in them. Of central importance, of course, is the question of the
extent of territory used and occupied by the tribe in litigation.
Other basic problems include the determination of the nature and
composition of the groups involved, the rhythm of their seasonal
activity, their political identity, and the actual time at which they
occupied and used the terrain. Beyond these specifically
anthropological considerations, other professionals have had an
equally important role in delivering expert testimony in the cases,
and we wish only to note in passing that historians, land appraisers,
attorneys, and others have had much to do with their outcome.

The extent of the territory in question and the complexity of the
historical period in point, that preceding the treaties of 1863 and
1868, required considerable research. We spent the summer of 1954 on
the Shoshone reservations at Wind River, Wyoming, Fort Hall, Idaho,
and Duck Valley, Nevada. Some six weeks each were spent at Wind River
and Fort Hall and a week at Duck Valley. At each of these places we
spoke to the oldest informants available. Salvage ethnography of this
type is generally an unrewarding and unsatisfying task, and it was
complicated in this investigation by the fact that we were asking our
informants to recall historical material that is often ill preserved
in the oral tradition. Thus, an old Indian may well remember some
custom connected with war or ceremony that he had either experienced
or that had been told to him by an older person. But he would be less
likely to recall the exact places where game could be found, the
trails used, the organization and composition of the group that
pursued the game, and so forth. This is especially true of the
buffalo-hunting Shoshone, for any informant who actually took part in
a hunt as a mature individual would have been in his late seventies,
at least, at the time of our research. And informants did not, of
course, distinguish clearly between pre-and post-reservation times.
Only careful cross-checking would reveal whether the individual was
speaking of the 1860's or the 1890's. As might be expected, it was
virtually impossible to determine whether the data supposedly valid
for the 1860's was true of the preceding decade or the one before
that, and any student of Plains and Basin-Plateau history recognizes
that such historical continuity cannot be assumed.

Because of these limitations on the reliability of informants, most of
our work was by necessity based on ethnohistoric research. Every
attempt was made to examine the most important literature on the area
and period. The total number of sources scrutinized far exceeded the
bibliography at the end of this monograph, for many of them contained
data that were at best scanty and superficial and at worst totally
false. Despite our best efforts to approximate an adequate historical
criticism, some of the data presented were found in works that can be
used only with great caution. Alexander Ross, for example, has
reported much material of doubtful authenticity, and one may labor
long and hard in the accounts of Jim Beckwourth to separate fact from
a delightful tendency to make the story exciting and his own personage
more impressive. It is a wry commentary on the veracity of the
mountain men that John Coulter's account of Yellowstone Park was long
laughed at by his own peers as being simply an addition to a
snowballing folklore of the fur country. Among other dubious sources,
we can add W. T. Hamilton and the Irving account of Captain
Bonneville's adventures. The problem of criticism becomes particularly
difficult during the fur period from about 1810 to 1840 owing to the
paucity of sources available for cross-checking particular data.
Bonneville and Ross are especially rich in information, most of which
cannot be easily verified. The choice became one of dismissing them
altogether or using them. We elected to use them, but we have
attempted restraint in drawing any important conclusions from them.

The monograph follows substantially the report submitted to the Indian
Claims Commission. It has been edited, and we have also shifted
emphasis at certain points to our own special interests. These are
concerned with the relations between the social groups of the Basin
and those of the Plains and the impact of the ecology of either region
upon the social structures of the native population. A few
qualifications should be noted. The limitations imposed by our
assignment and by time did not allow the collection of as full a range
of material on social structure as would be wished. Also, we have
excluded any discussion of the Shoshone of Nevada, for our field work
there was far too brief. Our one week at Duck Valley only served to
reinforce our opinion of the truly masterful ethnography represented
by Steward's "Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups," and we
could add little to his work.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to the Board of
Editors of the University of California Publications in
Anthropological Records for their valuable comments and to our many
friends on the reservations visited for their friendship and
coöperation. We have also profited greatly from discussions with Drs.
Sven Liljeblad, Åke Hultkranz, and Julian Steward. This work owes much
of whatever merit it may be found to have, and none of its
shortcomings, to all these people.

                                                    Robert F. Murphy
                                                      Yolanda Murphy


    I. The Northern and Eastern Shoshone

    II. The Eastern Shoshone
        Eastern Shoshone history: 1800-1875
        Early reservation period
        Eastern Shoshone territory
        Social and political organization

    III. The Shoshone and Bannock of Idaho
        General distribution of population
        The Boise and Weiser Rivers
        The middle Snake River
        The Shoshone of the Sawtooth Mountains
        The Shoshone of Bannock Creek and northern Utah
        Fort Hall Bannock and Shoshone
        Lemhi Shoshone

    IV. Ecology and Social System



    Shoshone-Bannock Subsistence Areas                   facing





The Rocky Mountain range was not an insuperable obstacle to
communication between the Indian tribes east and west of the
Continental Divide. The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Blackfoot, and other
peoples of the Plains often crossed the range for purposes of hunting,
warfare, and trade. And the tribes of the Basin-Plateau region also
traversed the spine of the continent with much the same ends in mind.
But their needs were more urgent, for in the late historic period the
western part of the Great Plains of North America constituted the last
reserve of the bison, the game staple of the Indian population of the
western slope of the Rockies. Thus was established the pattern of
transmontane buffalo hunting, first reported by Lewis and Clark and
studied latterly by many anthropologists. The present volume
represents a further contribution to this research.

The Rocky Mountains are traversible by horse in all sections. In
Montana, the passes are only 5,000 to 7,000 feet in elevation, and the
Indians crossed over the same routes followed today by highways. The
Wyoming Rockies similarly presented no serious problem to nomadic
peoples. Although the Yellowstone Park area posed some difficulty for
travel, a more southerly route led over South Pass at a gentle
gradient only 7,550 feet in altitude. That the mountains were no great
challenge is illustrated by the fact that Indians traveling from Green
River to Wind River often preferred to take more direct routes through
passes over 10,000 feet high rather than to follow the more circuitous
trail over South Pass. Farther south, the Colorado Rockies and their
passes are far more lofty, but even these high ranges did not totally
prevent travel. None of these areas, of course, could be traversed in
the winter. When the snow left the high country in late spring and
early summer, however, the mountains were not only avenues of travel,
but they were also hunting grounds. None of the buffalo hunters relied
completely on that animal for food, and the high mountain parks
abounded in elk, bighorn sheep, moose, and deer. Streams were fished,
berries were gathered along their banks, and roots were dug in the
surrounding hills. For the tribes living on their flanks, the
mountains afforded an important source of subsistence.

If the Rocky Mountains did not effectively isolate Plains societies
from those of the Basin-Plateau, differences in environment certainly
did. Plains economy was based upon two animals, the horse and the
buffalo, both of which depended on sufficient grass for forage. The
horse diffused northward along both sides of the mountains, and the
richest herds were probably found among the Plateau tribes and not in
the Plains (cf. Ewers, 1955, p. 28). The greatest herds of buffalo
were found east of the Continental Divide, however, although smaller
and more scattered herds roamed the regions of higher elevation and
rainfall, immediately west of the Rockies, until about 1840. Thus,
although the standard image of "Plains culture" is derived from the
short-grass country east of the Divide, the tribes living west of the
mountains were also mounted and also had access to buffalo. Their
varying involvement in this subsistence pursuit and its associated
technology, combined with the diffusion of other items of culture,
resulted in what Kroeber has called "a late Plains overlay" of culture
in the area (Kroeber, 1939, p. 52).

The spread of Plains culture into the Basin-Plateau area has been
described by Wissler, Lowie, and others, the emphasis usually being
upon traits of material culture. Less research has been devoted to the
impact of equestrian life and the pursuit of the buffalo on the social
structure of the people of the Intermountain area. This is in itself
surprising, for a great deal of conjecture has revolved around just
this question, but in the course of research upon the societies of the
Plains proper. Such inquiry has often attempted to compare Plains
societies of the horse period with those of the pre-horse era,
revealed through archaeology and ethnohistory. In this volume, we
attempt to approach the problem through both ethnohistory and a type
of controlled comparison. That is, using the mounted, buffalo-hunting
Shoshone and Bannock as our example, we will relate their social and
economic life not only to the Plains, but to the Basin-Plateau area to
the west and to their unmounted colinguists who resided there. In this
way, we may analyze similarities and differences and attempt to answer
the question of whether certain basic social modifications did indeed
follow from the buffalo hunt.

The Indian inhabitants of western Wyoming and southeastern Idaho, the
subjects of this study, have their closest linguistic affinities with
the peoples to the west. The languages of this area are well known and
we need only briefly recapitulate their relationships. Those peoples
of the Basin-Plateau area known in the ethnographic literature as
Shoshone, Gosiute, Northern Paiute, Bannock, Ute, and Southern Paiute
all belong to the Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock and are thus related to
the Hopi and Aztec to the south and the Comanche of the southern
Plains. Within this larger grouping a number of subfamilies have been
identified. Those with which this report is concerned are the
Shoshone-Comanche and Mono-Bannock. The Shoshone-speaking peoples of
the Basin-Plateau area include the Northern, Eastern, and Western
Shoshone and the Gosiute, all of whom speak mutually intelligible
dialects. The area occupied by this population extends from the
Missouri waters on the east to beyond Austin, Nevada, on the west, and
from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho to southern California. There are
no sharp linguistic divisions within this vast region, and phonemic
shifts are gradual throughout its extent. The Mono-Bannock division
comprehends the speakers of Northern Paiute living in the region east
of the Sierra Nevada from Owens Lake, California, to northeastern
Oregon and the Bannock Indians of southeastern Idaho, who stem
directly from the eastern Oregon Paiute.

Despite the continuity of language between the Shoshone and Bannock of
Wyoming and Idaho and the simple Basin people to the west, it has long
been obvious that the first two were culturally marginal to the
Plains. Wissler listed the Northern and Eastern Shoshone and the
Bannock among the Plains tribes, but he excluded them from his
category of groups typical of the area and described them as
"intermediate" (Wissler, 1920, pp. 19-20). Kroeber, however, was more
aware of the historical recency of Plains culture and described the
Idaho Bannock and Shoshone and the Wind River (Eastern) Shoshone as
forming "marginal subareas" of the Basin (Kroeber, 1939, p. 53). As
such, they are included in his Intermediate and Intermountain Areas.
Kroeber noted specifically of the Eastern Shoshone (p. 80):

     These people, in turn, live in an area which belongs to the
     Rocky Mountains physiographically, with the Basin
     vegetationally: it is sagebrush, not grassland. Wind River
     culture must have been of pretty pure Basin type until the
     horse came in and they began to take on an overlay of Plains
     culture. It was about this time, apparently, that the Comanche
     moved south from them.

Shimkin, who made an intensive study of the Eastern Shoshone of the
Wind River Reservation, is inclined to emphasize their Plains
affiliation (1947_a_, p. 245):

     Wind River Shoshone culture has been essentially that of the
     Plains for a good two hundred years; pioneer ethnographers have
     vastly overemphasized the Basin affiliations.

Assuming that this 200-year period dates approximately from the time
of Shimkin's field work in 1937-1938, this would extend the Plains
cultural position of the Shoshone back to the time at which the
Blackfoot were just acquiring horses, a period in which the use of the
horse had yet to reach the tribes north and east of the Missouri River
(Haines, 1938, pp. 433-435). Although Shimkin rightly states (1939)
that the Shoshone were among the earliest mounted buffalo hunters of
the northern Plains, it is most questionable whether one can speak of
a "Plains culture" at that time, in the sense that the term has been
used in culture area classifications. It would seem that the
resolution of this problem depends upon the questions of the degree of
stability of Plains culture and of the extent to which it is
autochthonous to the Plains.

Implicit in the discussions above is the attempt to ascertain whether
the buffalo-hunting Shoshone were one thing or another--as if the
alternatives constituted in themselves homogeneous units--or how much
their culture was a blend. Hultkrantz has taken a rather different
approach to the problem in his statement (1949, p. 157):

     The conclusion is that the culture of the Wind River Shoshoni
     exhibits a strange conflicting situation. It belongs neither to
     the foodgatherers of the west nor to the hunting cultures of
     the east--it is something sui generis. To ascribe it to anyone
     of its bordering cultures is to lose the dynamic aspect of the
     cultural evolution of the tribe.

He thus sees the eastern Shoshone as synthesizers and transformers of
cultural material derived from both eastern and western sources; their
culture is a blend of the two, but it is not a simple compound of
them. The present work does not attempt to answer the question of the
relation of the content of the culture of the equestrian Shoshone to
that of peoples to the east and west but will focus attention upon
social structure. And it will do this, not through a consideration of
outside influences upon the Shoshone, but by analysis of their social
institutions and the relationship of them to economic life.

Our note on the length of involvement of the Shoshone in Plains Indian
culture leads us to inquire briefly into the time depth of this
culture and its relation to the expansion of the American frontier.
Although it is quite probable that certain cultural traits and social
institutions characteristic of later Plains life had antecedents in
the pre-equestrian period, the possession of herds of horses was the
basis of later patterns of amalgamation and incipient stratification.
It also had much to do with the intensification of warfare. The horse,
according to Haines (1938), spread from the Spanish Southwest to more
northerly areas along both sides of the Rocky Mountains. Its diffusion
along the western slope of the range was presumably the more rapid,
and Haines gives evidence indicating that the Shoshone had horses
about 1690 to 1700, at which time the animal was found no farther
north than the Arkansas-Oklahoma border in the Plains (ibid., p. 435).
From this Shoshone center, the use of the horse spread north to the
Columbia River, the Plateau, and the northern plains. It followed an
independent route north from Texas to the Missouri River and the
fringe of the woodlands.

Their early acquisition of the horse may have allowed the Shoshone to
penetrate the northern plains as far as Saskatchewan in the early
eighteenth century, for David Thompson's journals tell of warfare
between the Blackfoot and Shoshone in that region at some time in the
1720's or early 1730's (Tyrell, 1916, pp. 328 ff.). The northerly
extension of the Shoshone in the early horse period, and perhaps
before, has been discussed and generally accepted by many students of
the area (cf. Wissler, 1910, p. 17; Shimkin, 1939, p. 22; Ewers, 1955,
pp. 16-17; Hultkrantz, 1958, p. 150). There is little information on
Shoshone population movements between this date and the journey of
Lewis and Clark. In 1742 the de la Vérendrye brothers undertook an
expedition into the northern plains of the United States and reported
upon the ferocity of a people known to them as the "Gens du Serpent,"
presumably the Snake, or Shoshone. De la Vérendrye wrote of these
people (Margry, 1888, p. 601):

     No nation is their friend. We are told that in 1741 they
     entirely laid waste to seventeen villages, killed all the men
     and old women, made slaves of the young women and traded them
     to the sea for horses and merchandise.

The Gens du Serpent are not precisely located, but the explorers were
told by the "Gens de Chevaux" that they lie in the path to the western
sea. Later, a "Gens d'Arc" chief invited them to join in an expedition
against the Gens du Serpent on "the slopes of the great mountains
that are near the sea" (p. 603). They later found an abandoned enemy
village near the mountains, but returned without further contact.
Shimkin believes that this village was in the Black Hills (Shimkin,
1939, p. 22), but the journals are most hazy on geography. The
previously cited information from the Gens d'Arc chief suggests that
the group was located farther west, in the vicinity of the Rocky
Mountains. It must be remembered, however, that there has been
considerable contention among historians, not only over the route of
the de la Vérendrye brothers, but over the identification of the Gens
du Serpent. L. J. Burpee has reviewed (1927, pp. 13-23) various
conflicting interpretations of the journals, and the matter can hardly
be considered settled.

By this period, the Blackfoot and other northern tribes were already
armed with guns (see Ewers, 1955, p. 16; Haines, 1938, p. 435),
obtained through commerce with the French and English traders of
Canada. They had also become mounted, and it may be surmised that the
Shoshone lost their equestrian advantage at almost the same time that
their enemies acquired guns. Thus the Shoshone retreat from the
Canadian plains may well have begun before 1750, as Thompson's
narrative indeed suggests (Tyrrell, 1916, pp. 334 ff.). The process
was certainly complete by 1805, when Lewis and Clark found the Lemhi
River Shoshone hiding in the fastnesses west of the Bitterroot Range
and lamenting their loss of the Missouri River buffalo country to
better-armed groups. The Shoshone, once masters of the northern
Plains, had fallen upon bad times. They complained to the explorers
that they were forced to reside on the waters of the Columbia River
from the middle of May to the first of September for fear of the
Blackfoot, who had driven them out of the buffalo country with
firearms (Lewis and Clark, 1904-06, 2:373). Their forays into the
Missouri drainage were made only in strength with other Shoshone and
their Flathead allies (2:374). The Shoshone apparently were able to
utilize areas of Montana adjacent to the Bitterroot Range, for signs
of their root-digging activities were seen on the Beaverhead River
(2:329-334). This pattern of transmontane buffalo hunting described by
Lewis and Clark remained essentially the same until its final end
after the establishment of the reservation, and will be described in
detail later in this work.

It is possible now to discern three periods in this early phase of
Shoshone history. The first, the footgoing period, is unknown, and
little can be inferred of Shoshone location and movements. The second
period is characterized by the acquisition of the horse, and we would
conjecture that a good deal of territorial expansion took place after
that time. The Comanche differentiated from the main Shoshone group at
the beginning of the eighteenth century. Although the Comanche
maintained communication with their northern colinguists, the
territories of the two groups were not contiguous by the end of the
century, and their histories followed separate courses. The extension
of the Shoshone into the northern Plains may possibly have predated
the acquisition of the horse, for it seems quite likely that they
occupied fairly extensive areas east of the Rockies in the footgoing
period. But, on the other hand, it seems unlikely that in the period
immediately preceding 1700, the most probable date for the acquisition
of the horse, they extended from the Arkansas River on the south to
the Bow River in Saskatchewan. This would be especially unlikely if
later distribution of Shoshone-speakers in the Basin-Plateau was
substantially the same in the earlier period also. We would
conjecture, then, that equestrian life gave the Shoshone the mobility
to extend into the Canadian buffalo grounds but that they were pushed
back beyond the divide well before 1800. As Shimkin has noted, the
ravages of smallpox and the resulting decline of population probably
contributed to their territorial shrinkage (Shimkin, 1939, p. 22).

By 1810, the early explorations of Thompson, Lewis and Clark, and
others bore fruit in the commercial exploitation of the far Northwest.
The fur trade had already reached the Plains and the Rockies in
Canada, and a fierce competition was being waged by the Hudson's Bay
Fur Company and the North West Company for the patronage of the
Indians there. The British interests pushed southward from Canada, and
in 1809 David Thompson established North West Company trading posts on
Pend Oreille Lake at the mouth of the Clark Fork River and another
farther up that stream within the borders of present-day Montana. At
the same time, American traders were pushing westward, and Andrew
Henry crossed the Continental Divide to locate his trading post on
Henry's Fork of the Snake River in 1810. Also, John Jacob Astor's
Pacific Fur Company established the ill-fated Astoria post at the
mouth of the Columbia River in 1811. Although this particular American
enterprise foundered, Manuel Lisa, the guiding spirit of the Missouri
Fur Company, penetrated the Missouri River country and founded a post
on the Yellowstone River at the mouth of the Big Horn in 1807. From
this point his trappers spread into the near-by mountain country. The
most famous of these mountain men was John Colter, who trapped the
country of the Blackfoot and Crow and discovered Yellowstone Park.

The northern Plains and Rockies had thus been entered and partially
explored by 1812, and increasing numbers of trappers poured into the
new Louisiana Purchase and the lands beyond. Astor stepped into the
territory of the Missouri Fur Company after Lisa's death in 1820, and
in 1822 the Western Division of his American Fur Company was
established. Fort Union was built on the upper Missouri to serve as
the headquarters of Astor's mountain realm, and steamboats served the
post after 1832. A decade before this date, the Rocky Mountain Fur
Company was established, and in the following year, 1823, the
company's trappers began to exploit intensively the drainages of the
Wind River and the upper Snake and Green rivers. The Rocky Mountain
Company established a new pattern of trading. Eschewing the rigid and
hierarchical organization of the British companies, it relied mainly
upon the services of free trappers, who gathered once a year at agreed
places to meet the company's supply trains. These gatherings, the
famous trappers' rendezvous, were held in the summer at various places
in Shoshone country--Pierre's Hole, Cache Valley, or the Green River.

The trappers of the Rocky Mountain Company and later of the American
Fur Company invested every fastness of the Shoshone hunting grounds in
relentless pursuit of the beaver, the vital ingredient of the
gentleman's top hat. The intense traffic in the Shoshone region was
abetted by the penetration of the Snake River drainage by Donald
McKenzie of the North West Company, beginning in 1818, and later by
Peter Skene Ogden, under the auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company. The
climax of fur trapping came in the middle of the decade of the
1830's, for at the peak of activity the commerce collapsed.
Competition between the various trading companies had been ruinous,
the streams had been thoroughly trapped out, and the beaver hat went
out of fashion. By 1840, the fur trade in the northwest part of the
United States was substantially ended.

During the period 1810-1840 the Shoshone and their neighbors lost the
isolation they had formerly enjoyed and came into close contact with
the whites. The latter were of a different type than those with whom
the Indians later had to deal. They lived off the land, but at the
same time they did not dispossess the Indians from their hunting
grounds. Although there were sporadic clashes between the trappers and
Shoshone and Bannock groups, relations were largely amicable. The
trappers married Indian women and lived for varying periods with
Indian bands. And both found a common enemy in the Blackfoot. The
Indians also traded with the whites and through them obtained
firearms, iron utensils, and other commodities, including the raw
liquor of the frontier. But the American companies apparently did not
attempt to utilize Indian labor to the same extent as did the British
companies. The bulk of the fur yield was garnered by the free trappers
and not by Indians. The Shoshone traded some small animal furs and
buffalo robes to the whites, but they also sold meat, horses, and
other commodities. They never became fur trappers in the same complete
way as did the northern Algonkian and Athapaskan peoples.

After the decline of the fur trade, the Shoshone did not return to
their pristine state of isolation. In the early 1840's, shortly after
the debacle of the beaver trade, a strong surge of immigration from
the States to Oregon began. The road to Oregon followed trails well
marked by the trappers. It ascended the Platte and North Platte rivers
and thence to the South Pass via the Sweetwater. From South Pass the
trail went down to Fort Bridger, established in 1843, and then turned
to the northwest and Fort Hall on the Snake River. The California
branch of the trail bent southwest before reaching Fort Hall and
descended the Humboldt River. The initial trickle of emigration grew
into a great stream, and after the discovery of gold in California the
Oregon Trail became a great highway to the west.

Busy though the trail was, the emigrants had but a single purpose.
This was to cross the "Great American Desert," or the Plains, and
reach the promised lands of the Pacific Coast. Except for the
immediate environs of the emigrant road, the mountain country
contained fewer whites than during the previous decade. This situation
soon changed. In 1847 the Mormon migration reached the Salt Lake
Valley, and during the following years Mormons settled adjacent areas
of Wyoming and Idaho. Miners poured into the Sweetwater River country
of Wyoming in the 1860's and in 1869 Fort Stambaugh was established at
South Pass to protect them and the emigrant road. This route, however,
had already seen its greatest days, for the Central Pacific Railroad
was completed in the same year.

The Wild West was substantially ended by this date, and the Shoshone
signed treaties in 1868 which gave those of Wyoming the Wind River
Reservation and those of Idaho the Fort Hall Reservation.
Sedentarization of these buffalo-hunting nomads was completed during
the 1870's, by which time the region was being settled by white
ranchers and their Texas herds. Shortly after 1880, the buffalo herds
had been almost completely exterminated, and so also had Plains Indian

The era from 1700 to 1880 was thus one of great change for the
Shoshone. We recapitulate its principal periods.

1. The pre-horse period extended until approximately 1700.

2. The early equestrian period, from 1700 to 1750 was distinguished by
the expansion of Shoshone-speaking peoples into the Canadian plains to
the north and southward toward Texas, where they became known as

3. After 1750, the northern tribes, especially the Blackfoot, acquired
the horse and firearms and drove the Shoshone south and west, where
they retreated beyond the Continental Divide, in contiguity with those
Shoshone who had remained in the Great Basin. By this time, the
Comanche had become differentiated from their northern colinguists.

4. The fur period began about 1810, and from this time, Shoshone
history became inextricably connected with that of the American
frontiers. Although the game supply declined during this epoch, the
Shoshone were not dispossessed from their hunting grounds and
continued substantially the same subsistence cycle.

5. The year 1840 saw the end of the fur trade and the beginning of
westward emigration. As will be seen, the buffalo herds west of the
Divide had disappeared by this date, and the Shoshone were
increasingly forced to seek winter supplies on the Missouri waters.

6. The Shoshone signed treaties in 1868 in which they were forced to
accept reservation life. At about this time, gold miners entered the
Sweetwater country, and the transcontinental railroad was completed.
The following decade saw the end of the buffalo in the west and the
introduction of open-range cattle grazing. Shoshone history then
became merged with the history of the American West.

During the periods of the fur trade and early emigration increasing
amounts of information on Shoshonean and Mono-Bannock speakers became
available. Political organization among these peoples was
characteristically amorphous, and the early diarists and chroniclers
had little basis for distinguishing subgroups in this vast region.
With the exception of the Paiute-Shoshone split, language differences
gave no firm basis for differentiation, and even this major division
of the Uto-Aztecan stock was commonly not recognized. Accordingly,
travelers classified the Indians of the region on the basis of their
most obvious characteristic, whether or not they possessed horses and
hunted buffalo. Alexander Ross observed (1924, pp. 239-240):

     The great Snake nation may be divided into three divisions,
     namely, the Shirry-dikas, or dog-eaters; the War-are-ree-kas,
     or fish-eaters; and the Ban-at-tees, or robbers; but as a
     nation they all go by the general appellation of Sho-sho-nes,
     or Snakes. The word Sho-sho-nes means, in the Snake language,
     "inland." The Snakes, on the west side of the Rocky Mountains,
     are what the Sioux are on the east side--the most numerous and
     powerful in the country. The Shirry-dikas are the real
     Sho-sho-nes, and live in the plains, hunting the buffalo. They
     are generally slender, but tall, well-made, rich in horses,
     good warriors, well dressed, clean in their camps, and in their
     personal appearance bold and independent.

     The War-are-ree-kas are very numerous, but neither united nor
     formidable. They live chiefly by fishing, and are to be found
     all along the rivers, lakes, and water-pools throughout the
     country. They are more corpulent, slovenly, and indolent than
     the Shirry-dikas. Badly armed and badly clothed, they seldom go
     to war. Dirty in their camp, in their dress, and in their
     persons, they differed so far in their general habits from the
     Shirry-dikas that they appeared as if they had been people
     belonging to another country. These are the defenceless
     wretches whom the Blackfeet and Piegans from beyond the
     mountains generally make war upon. These foreign mercenaries
     carry off the scalps and women of the defenseless
     War-are-ree-kas and the horses of the Shirry-dikas, but are
     never formidable nor bold enough to attack the latter in fair
     and open combat.

     The Ban-at-tees, or mountain Snakes, live a predatory and
     wandering life in the recesses of the mountains, and are to be
     found in small bands or single wigwams among the caverns and
     rocks. They are looked upon by the real Sho-sho-nes themselves
     as outlaws, their hand against every man, and every man's hand
     against them. They live chiefly by plunder. Friends and foes
     are alike to them. They generally frequent the northern
     frontiers, and other mountainous parts of the country. In
     summer they go almost naked, but during winter they clothe
     themselves with the skins of rabbits, wolves, and other

Ross's "Ban-at-tees" undoubtedly include the people now termed the
Northern Paiute of Oregon; this seems confirmed by his placement of
the western limits of the "Snakes" at the western end of the Blue
Mountain Range in Oregon. The loose inclusion of the Oregon Northern
Paiute as Snakes results in some obscurity in the early sources. They
are frequently (and on valid linguistic grounds) lumped with the
Bannock, as was done by Ross. It is noteworthy that contemporary Fort
Hall informants still speak of the Oregon Paiute as Bannocks.

The distinction between mounted and unmounted peoples continues in
Zenas Leonard's journal (1934, p. 80):

     The Snake Indians, or as some call them, the Shoshonie, were
     once a powerful nation, possessing a glorious hunting ground on
     the east side of the [Rocky] mountains; but they, like the
     Flatheads, have been almost annihilated by the revengeful
     Blackfeet, who, being supplied with firearms, were enabled to
     defeat all Indian opposition. Their nation had been entirely
     broken up and scattered throughout all this wild region. The
     Shoshonies are a branch of the once powerful Snake tribe, as
     are also the more abject and forlorn tribe of Shuckers, or,
     more generally termed, Diggers and Root-eaters, who keep in the
     most retired recesses of the mountains and streams, subsisting
     on the most unwholesome food, and living the most like animals
     of any race of beings.

Russell also commented that half the Shoshone live in large villages
and hunt buffalo, while the other half travel in small groups of two
to ten families, have few horses, and live on roots, fish, seeds, and
berries (Russell, 1955, p. 143). Wilkes follows this same dichotomy
(1845, 4:471-472):

     The Snakes, or Shoshones, are widely scattered tribes, and some
     even assert that they are of the same race as the Comanches,
     whose separation is said to be remembered by the Snakes: it has
     been ascertained, in confirmation of this opinion, that they
     both speak the same language. The hunters report that the
     proper country of the Snakes is to the east of Youta Lake and
     north of the Snake or Lewis River; but they are found in many
     detached places. The largest band is located near Fort Boise on
     the Snake River, to the north of the Bonacks. The Snakes have
     horses and firearms, and derive their subsistence both from the
     chase and from fishing. There are other bands of them, to the
     north of the Bonacks, who have no horses, and live on acorns
     and roots, their only arms being bows and arrows. In
     consequence of the mode of gaining their subsistence, they are
     called Diggers and are looked upon with great contempt.

Wilkes further commented (p. 473) that there had been a general
north-to-south tribal pressure in which the Blackfoot had occupied
former Shoshone lands: "the country now in possession of the Snakes,
belonged to the Bonacks, who have been driven to the Sandy Desert."

Father De Smet reported that the "Shoshonees or Root-diggers" had a
population of 10,000, divided into "several parties" (De Smet, 1906,
27:163). The missionary claimed they were called Snakes because they
burrowed into the earth and lived on roots, and commented (ibid.):

     They would have no other food if some hunting parties did not
     occasionally pass beyond the mountains in pursuit of the
     buffalo, while a part of the tribe proceeds along the banks of
     the Salmon River, to make provision for the winter, at the
     season when the fish come up from the sea.

Albert Gallatin described the various Shoshone populations and their
orbits in 1848, as follows (Hale, 1848, p. 18):

     Shoshonees or Snake Indians ... bounded north by Sahaptins,
     west by the Waiilatpu, Lutuami, and Palaiks; extend eastwardly
     east of the Rocky Mountains.... The country of the Shoshonees
     proper is east of Snake River. The Western Shoshonees, or
     Wihinasht, live west of it; and between them and the Shoshonees
     proper, another branch of the same family, called Ponasht or
     Bonnaks, occupy both sides of the Snake River and the valley of
     its tributary, the Owyhee. The Eastern Shoshonees are at war
     with the Blackfeet and the Opsarokas. The most northern of
     these have no horses, live on acorns and roots, are called
     diggers, and considered by our hunters the most miserable of
     the Indians.

Gallatin's division is the first, to our knowledge, to apply the terms
Eastern and Western Shoshone.

In Schoolcraft's Archives of Aboriginal Knowledge the Shoshone are
described in terms consistent with previously published material
(1860, 1:198):

     The various tribes and bands of Indians of the Rocky Mountains,
     south of latitude 43°, who are known under this general name
     [Shoshonee], occupy the elevated area of the Utah basin. They
     embrace all the territory of the Great South Pass between the
     Mississippi Valley and the waters of the Columbia.... Traces of
     them, in this latitude, are first found in ascending the
     Sweetwater River of the north fork of the Platte, or Nebraska.
     They spread over the sources of the Green River ... on the
     summit south of the Great Wind river chain of mountains, and
     thence westward, by the Bear river valley, to and down the
     Snake river, or Lewis fork of the Columbia. Under the name of
     Yampa-tick-ara, or Root-Eaters, and Bonacks, they occupy, with
     the Utahs, the vast elevated basin of the Great Salt Lake,
     extending south and west to the borders of New Mexico and
     California.... They extend down the Sä-ap-tin or Snake River
     valley, to north of latitude 44°, but this is not the limit to
     which the nations speaking the Shoshonee language in its
     several dialects, have spread. Ethnologically, the people
     speaking it are one of the primary stocks of the Rocky Mountain

Other general descriptions of the Shoshonean-speaking peoples of the
Basin and Rocky Mountain areas are found in the literature of the
period, but add little to the foregoing accounts, which give us a
picture of a population sharing a common language (except the Bannock)
and living in peaceful relations with one another. They were roughly
divided into mounted and unmounted populations located in the eastern
and western parts of the territory, respectively. While the mounted
people appeared to have had some degree of political cohesion and
military effectiveness, the "Diggers" are uniformly represented as
politically atomistic, impoverished, and weak in the face of their

Since a work of this type relies heavily upon identification of
peoples mentioned in historical sources, it would be well to review
the varying nomenclature applied to the Shoshone.

Most early writers designated the Shoshonean-speaking population as
"Shoshonees" or "Snake Indians." The term "Snake" was generally
applied indiscriminately to the Northern Paiute of Oregon and to
Bannock and Shoshone groups in southern Idaho. Frequently only the
mounted people were considered true "Snakes," as in Wilkes's statement
that "the proper country of the Snakes is to the east of the Youta
Lake and north of the Snake or Lewis River; but they are found in many
detached places" (Wilkes, 1845, 4:471). He goes on to say (p. 472)
that some Snakes have no horses, but these he locates north of the

Although de la Vérendrye's "Gens du Serpent" can only be presumed to
be Shoshone, there is little doubt that the "Snake" of whom Thompson's
Blackfoot informant spoke were Shoshone. Lewis and Clark were told by
the Indians of the Columbia River that they lived in fear of the
"Snake Indians," but this was in reference to a tribe of the Deschutes
River in central Oregon (Lewis and Clark, 1904-06, 3:147). Those
Indians whom they met on the Lemhi River in Idaho were, however,
termed "Shoshonees." The name, "Snake," was rapidly applied to almost
any Indians between South Pass and the Columbia River. In March, 1826,
Peter Skene Ogden reported a "Snake" camp of two hundred on the Raft
River (Ogden, 1909, 10 (4):357). These Indians were undoubtedly either
Shoshone or Bannock, as their location indicates. Nathaniel Wyeth
traveled in the Raft River country in August, 1832, and similarly
spoke of seeing "Snakes" (Wyeth, 1899, p. 164). Without making any
sharp distinctions between the Indians sighted, Wyeth, in the same
region, mentioned "Diggers" (pp. 164, 167), "Pawnacks" (p. 168), and
"Sohonees" (ibid.). In 1839, Farnham saw "a family of Root Digger
Indians" on the Snake River, near the mouth of Raft River (Farnham,
1843, p. 74). These Indians were no doubt Shoshone, but the term was
also applied to Northern Paiute, for Ogden encountered "Snakes" while
on a trapping expedition in the Harney Basin of Oregon in 1826 (Ogden,
1910, 11 (2):206), as did John Work six years later (Work, 1945, p.
6). The failure to recognize the Northern Paiute as being
linguistically distinct from the Shoshone continued for some time. In
1854, Indian Agent Thompson reported from the Oregon Territory that
among the Indians under his jurisdiction were "Sho-sho-nies," who were
divided into three major groups: the "Mountain Snakes," "Bannacks,"
and "Diggers" (Thompson, 1855, p. 493).

North of the present boundary of the state of Nevada, "Snake" and
"Shoshone" or variations thereof were the names commonly applied to
all the Indians. Frequently, "Snake" meant specifically Paiute and
Bannock, or any mounted Indians, as distinguished from the footgoing
"Diggers." From the fact that these terms were applied to Indians in
widely separated regions and having different languages, it can only
be concluded that the nomenclature designated no particular group
having political, cultural, or linguistic unity.

"Snake" was but infrequently applied to the Indians south of Oregon
and Idaho, where the term "Shoshone" was more widely used. The
unmounted Shoshonean-speaking peoples of Utah and Nevada were also
commonly referred to as "Diggers" or "Root Diggers," a name frequently
given to the unmounted Shoshone of Idaho. Washington Irving referred
to those Indians seen on the Humboldt River by Walker's party in 1833
as "Shoshokoes" (Irving, 1873, p. 384). Zenas Leonard, who was a
member of Walker's expedition, referred to the Indians of the Humboldt
River region as "Bawnack, or Shoshonies" (Leonard, 1934, p. 78), but
Father De Smet spoke of all the unmounted people of the Great Basin as
"Soshocos" and described their abject poverty (De Smet, 1905, 3:1032).
In 1846, Edwin Bryant entered the Great Basin en route to California.
Of the Shoshone he said: "The Shoshonees or Snakes occupy the country
immediately west of the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains" (Bryant,
1885, p. 137). He differentiated this powerful, mounted people from
the "miserable Digger Indians, calling themselves Soshonees," whom he
met west of Great Salt Lake (p. 168). As he continued down the
Humboldt River in Nevada, he noted: "All the Digger Indians of this
valley claim to be Shoshonees" (p. 195), but despite this affirmation,
he continued to refer to them as "Diggers." Similarly, two Indians met
by Bryant's party near Humboldt Sink in Northern Paiute territory were
called "Digger Indians" (p. 211). Howard Stansbury, who explored the
Great Salt Lake region in 1849, referred, however, to the Indians west
of the lake as "Shoshonees or Snake Indians" (Stansbury, 1852, p. 97).

The Western Shoshone were generally called "Diggers" by the emigrants
who took part in the gold rush to California. One of them, Franklin
Langworthy of Illinois, stated: "All the Indians along the Humboldt
call themselves Shoshonees, but the whites call them Diggers, from the
fact that they burrow under ground in the winter" (Langworthy, 1932,
p. 119). Reuben Shaw, another "Forty-niner," referred to the Indians
on the California road along the Humboldt as "Diggers" (Shaw, 1948,
p. 123), "Root Diggers" (p. 119), and "Humboldt Indians" (p. 130). In
1854 Lieutenant E. G. Beckwith explored the route of the forty-first
parallel in search of a possible railroad route and encountered
Gosiute, Western Shoshone, and Northern Paiute Indians. He referred to
all of them as "Diggers," and he apparently used this term generically
for all the impoverished, horseless Indians between Salt Lake City and
the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At Deep Creek, in Utah, he "found a band
of twenty Shoshonee Indians encamped, besides women and children. They
are mounted, and contrast strikingly with their Goshoot neighbors
(Diggers) ..." (Beckwith, 1855, p. 25). Beckwith classed only mounted
Indians as Shoshone: in Butte Valley, Nevada, the inhabitants of a
"Digger wick-e-up" fled from the party, "taking us for Shoshonees" (p.
26). After leaving Western Shoshone territory he spoke of "Digger
Indians, who call themselves Pah-Utah, however" (p. 34).

The name "Shoshone" became more commonly applied to the Western
Shoshone after they had had increased contact with the whites. The
French traveler, Jules Remy, spoke of them as "Shoshones, or Snakes"
in 1855 (Remy and Brenchley, 1861, p. 123), and the British explorer,
Richard Burton, distinguished the "Shoshone" from the "Gosh-Yuta"
(Burton, 1861, p. 567) and the "Pa Yuta," or Northern Paiute, in 1860
(p. 591). The term "Shoshonee" was applied by Indian Agent Holeman to
the Indians of Thousand Spring Valley, Nevada (Holeman, 1854, p.
443), and to those of the Humboldt River (p. 444); However, on Willow
Creek, Utah, Agent Garland Hurt met a group of mounted Indians whom he
called "Shoshonees, or Snakes proper, from the Green River country"
(Hurt, 1856, p. 517). He distinguished these from the "Diggers" of the
Humboldt River (p. 779). Thus the distinction between the mounted
Shoshone and the unmounted people of the more arid regions of the
Great Basin continued, despite the recognition of their unity of
language. This implicit recognition may be found in the statement made
by Brigham Young (1858, p. 599):

     The Shoshones are not hostile to travelers, so far as they
     inhabit this territory, except perhaps a few called "Snake
     diggers," who inhabit, as before stated, along the line of
     travel west of the settlements.

It is possible to document almost endlessly the ways in which the
labels "Shoshone," "Digger," and "Snake" were applied in turn or at
the same time to Shoshone-Comanche and Mono-Bannock speakers alike.
Since political or social significance has frequently been attributed
to Indians' names--both those bestowed by the whites and those by
which the several sectors of the Shoshone population referred to each
other--we will discuss this nomenclature in the context of each
section of the following report.


It is necessary to preface all discussions of Shoshone Indians with a
clarification of what is implied by the names attached to Shoshone
subgroups. The commonly used appellation "Wind River Shoshone" implies
no more than reservation membership. Thus, we also have "Owyhee
Shoshone" and "Fort Hall Shoshone" (and Bannock). Wind River residents
of admitted descent from other groups are also referred to as "Wind
River people," if they are on the agency rolls. They were, of course,
not known by this name or a native equivalent in the pre-reservation
period. The names, "Eastern Shoshones" and "Eastern Snakes," by which
the Shoshone of Wyoming are also known in anthropology, were first
consistently applied by government officials during the 1850's and
1860's (cf. Lander, 1860, p. 131; Head, 1868, p. 179; Mann, 1869, p.
616). Lander also referred to the Eastern Shoshone as the "Wash-i-kee
band of the Snake Indians" (Lander, 1859, p. 66). This term came into
common use after Chief Washakie rose to prominence in the eyes of the

Previous to this period the Eastern Shoshone were called Snakes and
Shoshones (or variations thereof), indiscriminately. As has been
mentioned, the only firm distinction was made according to whether or
not the Indians in question owned horses and hunted buffalo. Although
Lewis and Clark never visited the Wyoming lands, the tribal lists
which they compiled at Fort Mandan before pushing west mention a
group, said by Clark to be "Snake," called the "Cas-ta-ha-na" or "Gens
de Vache" (Lewis and Clark, 1904-06, 6:102). They were said to number
500 lodges having a population of about 5,000 people. The Shoshone
identity of this people is somewhat obscured by Clark's report of an
affinity between their language and that of the Minitaree, but, on the
other hand, they were said to "rove on a S. E. fork of the Yellow Rock
River called Big Horn, and the heads of the Loup" (ibid.). The
"Cas-ta-ha-na" are mentioned also during the return trip of the
expedition. Lewis and Clark noted of the Big Horn River: "It is
inhabited by a great number of roving Indians of the Crow Nation, the
paunch Nation (a band of Crows) and the Castahanas (a band of Snake
In.)." The editor of the journals, Reuben Thwaites, identifies the
latter as "Comanche." (Ibid., 5:297.)

The paucity of boundary nomenclature found in the historical sources
is continued in the ethnographic data, for the food-area terminology
used by the Nevada and Idaho Shoshone is even more diffusely applied
in Wyoming. One old Nevada Shoshone woman referred to the Eastern
Shoshone as Kwichundöka, while a native of Wind River referred to his
people as Gwichundöka, slight phonetic variants of the common term
meaning "Buffalo eaters." This name appears in Hoebel (1938, p. 413)
as Kutsindika. Hoebel also reports that the Idaho Shoshone referred to
the Wyoming people as Pohogani, "Sage Brush Home" and Kogohoii, "Gut
Eaters" (ibid.). (Hoebel's terms are here anglicized.)

Whatever names may be applied to identify the Shoshone of Wyoming,
none refer to any sort of political group maintaining a stable
territory. As Shimkin says (1947_a_, p. 246):

     The identification of the Wind River Shoshone and their
     territory is not a simple matter. It is complicated by several
     facts. These people had no developed national or tribal sense;
     affiliation was fluid. Nor did they distinguish themselves by a
     special name. They merely knew that others called them ... Sage
     Brushers, ... Sage Brush Homes, or ... Buffalo Eating People.
     Furthermore, they felt no clear-cut distinctions of private or
     tribal territories.

One may speak of an eastern population of Shoshone Indians, but it
would be inaccurate to speak of one Eastern Shoshone band, despite the
fact that leadership was better developed in Wyoming than in other
parts of Shoshone territory.

It is doubtful whether there was any accurate estimate of the Eastern
Shoshone population until the post-reservation period. Burton (1861,
p. 575) cited the no doubt exaggerated figure of 12,000 for the
population led by Washakie. Forney numbers the total Shoshone
population at 4,500 in 1859 (1860_a_, p. 733), while Doty raised this
to 8,650 in 1863 (1865, p. 320). The more reliable estimate of 1,600
Eastern Shoshone was given by Agent Mann in 1869 (1870, p. 715), after
the establishment of the Wind River reservation. This number was later
reduced to 1,250 in official reports (Patten, 1878, p. 646). Kroeber
has estimated the Wind River Shoshone population at 2,500 (1939, p.
137). These figures are not representative of earlier periods, for the
ravages of smallpox and other new diseases made heavy inroads on the
pre-treaty population, and it is probable that the population at the
time of the treaty did not greatly exceed 1,500.


According to Shoshone tradition, the winter camps of the Eastern
Shoshone were in the valley of the Wind River, and their hunting
territory extended north to Yellowstone Park and Cody and east to the
Big Horn Mountains and beyond South Pass. Little is said by informants
of excursions west of the Continental Divide, although historical
evidence suggests that this was actually once their principal hunting
grounds. In partial support of this contention, Shimkin says (1947_a_,
p. 247): "The historical evidence gives some weight to the assumption
that in 1835-1840 the Shoshones were mostly west of the Wind River
Mountains." He also notes that hostilities between the Shoshone and
Crow resulted in the westward withdrawal of the former again in the
1850's (ibid.). In an earlier article Shimkin also stated (1938, p.

     This [smallpox epidemics in the first half of the 19th
     century], and probably the increased aggressiveness of other
     Plains tribes with the spread of firearms as well, led to a
     recession of the Shoshone and their retreat to the west in the
     middle of the nineteenth century. A final wave of expansion
     onto the Plains came with white aid, following the treaty at
     Fort Bridger, July 3, 1868.

While agreeing in part with these conclusions, we would not confine
the Shoshone restriction to the territory west of the Continental
Divide to such limited periods. The following data suggest, rather,
that "the heart of this people's territory," as Shimkin describes the
Wind River country, did not extend west of the Wind River Range from
at least 1800 until the reservation period and that the Shoshone,
while frequently entering the Missouri River drainage, did so only for
brief periods and usually in considerable fear of attack.

In Washington Irving's account of the Astoria party, one of our
earliest reliable sources on the Wyoming Shoshone, the author tells
how the Shoshone were pushed out of the Missouri River buffalo country
after the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies put firearms in the
hands of the Blackfoot (Irving, 1890, p. 197):

     Thus by degrees the Snakes have become a scattered,
     broken-spirited, impoverished people, keeping about lonely
     rivers and mountain streams, and subsisting chiefly upon fish.
     Such of them as still possess horses and occasionally figure as
     hunters are called Shoshonies.

The westward-bound Astoria party traveled up the Wind River Valley in
the middle of September, 1811, without sighting any Indians (ibid.,
pp. 199-200). This was exactly the time of year when, according to
contemporary informants, the Shoshone buffalo party should have been
gathering there. However, on the western side of the Wind River Range,
they found "a party of Snakes who had come across the mountains on
their autumnal hunting excursion to provide buffalo meat for the
winter" (p. 202). In September of the following year, the
eastward-bound party under Stuart encountered a party of "Upsarokas,
or Crows" on the Bear River, who said that they intended to trade with
the Shoshone (p. 289). This Crow party later ran off the trappers'
horses. Throughout their trip to the Green River country, the trapping
party was in continual fear of the Blackfoot (p. 298). Upon arriving
on the Green River on October 17, 1812, they met a party of about 130
"Snakes" living in some 40 "wigwams" made of pine branches (p. 306).
The ostensibly peaceful Crow had run off all but one of the horses of
this camp and had stolen some women also. The Astoria chronicle, then,
documents a situation that appears consistently in later sources: the
Shoshone were usually encountered west of the Continental Divide and
were continually on the defensive against powerful tribes to the east
and north that seemingly entered their hunting grounds at will.

The activities of the early trappers in northern Utah and western
Wyoming brought them into contact with a variety of Indian
populations, not all of which are easily identifiable. This region is
shown by the reports of the fur seekers to be characterized by a great
fluidity of internal movement of Shoshone--and Bannock-speaking groups
and by frequent entry by other tribes for purposes of war, trapping,
and trade. The journal of J. P. Beckwourth gives a vivid, although not
wholly reliable, account of the ebb and flow of population in the area
under consideration. While camped near the east shore of the Great
Salt Lake late in the year 1823, Beckwourth lost 80 horses to the
"Punnaks [Bannocks], a tribe inhabiting the headwaters of the Columbia
River" (Beckwourth, 1931, p. 60). His party pursued the Bannock to
their village, some five days distant, and, after regaining part of
the stolen herd, returned to camp to find some "Snake" (p. 61)
(Shoshonean-speaking) Indians camped near by. He states that this
group numbered 600 lodges and 2,500 warriors. The Indians were
friendly and the locale was said to have been their winter camp
(ibid.). Three years later, Beckwourth and his party were camped near
the same site (today, Farmington, Utah) and encountered 16 Flathead
Indians. Shortly thereafter the trappers were attacked by 500 mounted
Blackfoot Indians, who were driven off (ibid., p. 66). Two days later,
the fur party was joined by 4,000 Shoshone, who aided them in
defeating another Blackfoot attack (pp. 70-71). (Beckwourth's
population estimates are probably quite exaggerated.)

While Beckwourth's journals are poorly dated, it was no doubt during
the late 1820's that his party was attacked near Salt River in western
Wyoming by a body of unidentified Indians who, he claims, were 500
strong (p. 86). Shortly thereafter he fell in with friendly "Snake,"
or Shoshone, Indians. Near their camp were 185 Bannock lodges, with
whose occupants the hunters had some difficulties (pp. 87-88). While
in this vicinity, the camp of the trappers and the friendly Shoshone
was attacked by a Blackfoot party, after which the trappers and
Shoshone moved to the Green River (p. 89). At the Green River camp,
the combined trapper-Shoshone group was visited by a party of Crow
Indians. Beckwourth comments that "the Snakes and Crows were extremely
amicable." Beckwourth reported further on Shoshone-Crow relations (p.

     At this time the Crows were incessantly at war with all the
     tribes within their reach, with the exception of the Snakes and
     the Flatheads and they did not escape frequent ruptures with
     them [over horses].

That this peace was extremely uneasy and manifestly ephemeral was
clearly shown by later developments when the Shoshone, accompanied by
some Ute, attacked a Crow trading party, which later mustered support
and retaliated (pp. 183-184). However, at an even later date
Beckwourth was able to report that 200 lodges of Shoshone had joined
forces with the Crow, ostensibly because of the trading possibilities
afforded by Beckwourth's presence among the latter (p. 249).

The relations between the Shoshone and Crow during the 1820's
apparently were not much unlike those that prevailed at the time of
the passages of the Astoria parties. The Crow, although not relentless
enemies of the Shoshone, as were the Blackfoot, constituted a constant
source of danger. Beckwourth's journals give evidence of amicable
relations between the American trappers and the Shoshone, although he
described the more bellicose Bannock as "very bad Indians, and very
great thieves" (p. 87). Other sources document more serious
difficulties with "Snake" Indians. Peter Skene Ogden reported in 1826
that the American trappers had suffered severe losses at the hands of
the Snake Indians during the preceding three years (Simpson, 1931, p.
285), but these mishaps probably occurred in Idaho. In 1824, however,
Jedediah Smith and Fitzpatrick lost all of their horses to the
"Snakes" on the headwaters of the Green River (Alter, 1925, pp. 38-39;
Dale, 1918, p. 91), and some members of Etienne Provot's trapping
party were killed by "Snakes" in the winter of 1824-25 (Dale, 1918, p.

Little information is available from the eastern side of the Wind
River Mountains during the 1820's. We do know, however, that Ashley
entrusted his horses to the Crow Indians on the Wind River before
setting out for the mountains in the spring of 1824 (ibid., p. 89).

In 1831, an American Fur Company trapper, Warren Angus Ferris, noted
that the two main Crow bands were located chiefly on the Yellowstone
River and its tributaries, but their "war parties infest the countries
of the Eutaws, Snakes, Arrapahoes, Blackfeet, Sious, and Chayennes"
(Ferris, 1940, p. 305). He had this to say of the Eastern Shoshone (p.

     Of the Snakes on the plains there are probably about four
     hundred lodges, six hundred warriors, and eighteen hundred
     souls. They range in the plains of Green River as far as the
     Eut Mountains; southward from the source to the outlet of Bear
     River, of the Big Lake; thence to the mouth of Porto-nuf
     [Portneuf], on Snake River of the Columbia.... They are at war
     with the Eutaws, Crows, and Blackfeet, but rob and steal from
     all their neighbors.

Ferris saw few Indians in his travels through the Jackson Hole area in
1832 and 1833. However, in "Jackson's Little Hole," presumably at the
south end of Hoback Canyon, he noted, in August, 1832, several large,
abandoned camps, which he assumed were those of the "Grosventres of
the prairies" (p. 158). The supposed Gros Ventre party was later seen
on the Green River and was said to have consisted of 500 to 600
warriors (pp. 158-159). These may well have been Blackfoot, for Zenas
Leonard reported a Blackfoot attack on the upper Snake River in
western Wyoming in July, 1832 (Leonard, 1934, p. 51). The Indians most
frequently sighted in the Green River region, however, were the
Shoshone. In June, 1833, Ferris saw "several squaws scattered over the
prairie engaged in digging roots" (Ferris, 1940, p. 205). These women
apparently belonged to "some fifty or sixty lodges of Snakes, ...
encamped about the fort [Bonneville's] who were daily exchanging their
skins and robes, for munitions, knives, ornaments, etc., with the
whites" (ibid., p. 206).

Further evidence of the virtual absence of the Shoshone from Missouri
waters in the fur period comes from Zenas Leonard. When preparing to
spend the winter of 1832-33 on the Green River, the trappers met a
party of 70 to 80 Crow who said "they were going to war with the Snake
Indians--whose country we were now in--and they said also they
belonged to the Crow nation on the East side of the mountains"
(Leonard, 1934, pp. 82-83). These Crow stole horses from the party,
and the trappers pursued them to their village at the mouth of the
Shoshone River, near modern Lovell, Wyoming. In the summer of 1834,
Captain Bonneville's trappers, one of whom was Zenas Leonard, trapped
on the waters of Wind River, but no mention is made of Shoshone
(ibid., pp. 224-226). In October, however, they met the Crow in the
Big Horn Basin, and they wintered on Wind River in their company (pp.
255-256). No Shoshone were reported in the area.

The Irving account of Captain Bonneville's adventures contains
additional information on Eastern Shoshone settlement patterns. It is
here also that we receive our first information on the Shoshone who
later are known to us as the Dukarika and who inhabited the
mountainous terrain of the Wind River Mountains and adjacent high
country (Irving, 1850, p. 139). The journal also supplements Leonard's
account of the trappers' sojurn in Wind River Valley, which, Irving
wrote (1837, 2:17) was infested by Blackfoot and Crow Indians and was
one of the favorite habitats of the latter (p. 22). One of the
trapping party's members was taken captive by the Crow on the Popo
Agie River, which flows past Lander, Wyoming, but was released
unharmed (pp. 24-25). It is to be noted that the trappers were in the
Wind River Valley at the end of September but saw no Shoshone,
although this was approximately the time of the annual buffalo hunt.
Upon leaving Wind River, Bonneville headed for the Sweetwater River,
which, he stated, was beyond the limits of Crow country (p. 26). He
then went to Hams Fork, a tributary of the Green River, and
encountered a Shoshone encampment with the Fitzpatrick party (p. 27).

It is doubtful whether Shoshonean peoples hunted extensively
east of the Continental Divide in the period following their
eighteenth-century retreat from the northern Plains and before the
disappearance of the buffalo west of the Rockies. Although the great
herds of the Missouri drainage were not found in the lands inhabited
by the Shoshone, it is quite possible that there were sufficient
buffalo there to meet the needs of the population. Bonneville met a
group of twenty-five mounted Bannock in the neighborhood of Soda
Springs, Idaho, in November, 1833, and, at their invitation, joined
them in a buffalo hunt there (p. 33). After taking sufficient meat,
the Bannock returned to their winter quarters at the mouth of the
Portneuf River (p. 35). The winter of 1834-35 again found Bonneville
on the Bear River, this time on its upper reaches, where he made
winter camp with "a small band of Shoshonies" (p. 210). Farther
upstream was an encampment of "Eutaw" Indians, who were hostile to the
Shoshone (p. 213). Bonneville, however, managed to prevent conflict
between the two groups. One advantage of this winter camp, and a
possible source of attraction for the Ute Indians, was the presence of
antelope during the winter. Bonneville witnessed one successful
"surround" by horsemen, aided in their efforts by supernatural charms
reminiscent of Great Basin antelope drives (pp. 214-215).

Nathaniel Wyeth evidently saw few Shoshone in his travels through
Wyoming, and his journals do not add greatly to our understanding of
the area. He traveled from the Snake to the Green River in June and
July, 1832, via the Teton country and mentioned no Shoshone except for
a small encampment near Bonneville's post on the upper Green River
(Wyeth, 1899, pp. 203-205). However, he reports that a white trapper
was attacked in July, 1833, on the lower Wind River by a party of
fifteen Shoshone who had left Green River shortly before (p. 207),
and, in 1834, he found himself among "too many Indians ... for comfort
or safety" while near Hams Fork, Wyoming (p. 225).

The journals of Osborne Russell provide documentation of population
movements in Wyoming during the years 1834-1840. Despite the decline
of the fur trade during this period, the area was still turbulent. In
November, 1834, a party of trappers was reported as having arrived at
Fort Hall, Nathaniel Wyeth's new post, after having been routed by the
Blackfoot on Hams Fork (Russell, 1955, p. 8). The spring of 1835 took
Russell to the west side of Bear Lake, where he found "about 300
lodges of Snake Indians" (p. 11) and in July of that year he
encountered a small party of Shoshone hunting mountain sheep in
Jackson Hole (p. 23). The lure of trade still attracted many other
Indian groups into the Green River country during and preceding the
time of the summer rendezvous. Russell reported an encampment of 400
lodges of Shoshone and Bannock and 100 of Flathead and Nez Percé on
the Bear River above the mouth of Smith's Fork on May 9, 1836. The
congregation was so large that it was forced to fragment in order to
seek subsistence; all planned to return on July 1, when supplies were
expected (p. 41). Russell spent the winter of 1840-41 with some 20
lodges of Shoshone in Cache Valley, Utah, and near Great Salt Lake (p.

The general territorial situation had changed little by the end of the
fur period. Wislizenus, who visited Wyoming in 1839, commented (1912,
p. 76): "In the vicinity [of the Big Horn Mountains] live the
Crows.... They often rove through the country between the Platte and
the Sweet Waters, which are considered by the Indians as a common war
ground." Tribes friendly to the Shoshone visited the week-long
rendezvous on the Green River. Wislizenus notes that "of the Indians
there had come chiefly Snakes, Flatheads, and Nez Percés, peaceful
tribes, living beyond the Rocky Mountains" (p. 86).

The journal of Thomas J. Farnham, written in 1839, documents the
growing economic difficulties of the Shoshone of the Wyoming-northern
Utah area. In July of that year, Farnham received news that the
Shoshone on the Bear River were "starving" and subject to the
depredations of marauding Blackfoot and Siouan war parties (Farnham,
1906, p. 229). While on "Little Bear River" (a Bear River tributary),
Farnham observed that, despite the present barrenness, he had heard
that this area was formerly rich in buffalo and that game had abounded
in the mountains (p. 233). Further indication of the growing poverty
of the Shoshone country is seen in his comment that the Shoshone
suffered less from enemy attacks because "the passes through which
they enter the Snake country are becoming more and more destitute of
game on which to subsist" (pp. 262-263).

Poverty, it would seem, did not bestow complete immunity upon the
Shoshone of Wyoming nor did it entirely inhibit occasional forays
against their enemies. Father De Smet, who was present at the Green
River rendezvous in 1840, wrote that the "Snakes" were then preparing
a war party against the Blackfoot (De Smet, 1906, 27:164). But by
1842, the Shoshone had other concerns than the traditionally hostile
Blackfoot. Medorem Crawford noted that on July 23, 1842, the
encampment of whites then situated near the Sweetwater River was
joined by a party of over one hundred "Sues and Shians who had been to
fight the Snakes" (Crawford, 1897, p. 13). The Shoshone had
experienced previous armed encounters with Siouan groups to the east,
but the pressure of the latter in these years was such that the Crow
and Shoshone allied for defense against the powerful eastern tribes
(Fremont, 1845, p. 146). The Crow, according to Fremont, had been
present at the 1842 rendezvous on Green River (p. 50). Despite the
alliance, Fremont regarded the Wind River Mountains as the eastern
limit of Shoshone occupancy. He noted in 1843 that the Green River was
twenty-five years earlier "familiarly known as the Seeds-ke-dee-agai,
or Prairie Hen River; a name which it received from the Crows, to whom
its upper waters belong" (p. 129), and both Farnham (1906, p. 261) and
Russell (1921, pp. 144-146) placed the Shoshone no farther east than
the Green River drainage in the years immediately preceding Fremont's

Siouan aggressions continued over an indefinite period, for Bryant
reported in June, 1846, that about 3,000 Sioux had collected at Fort
Laramie preparatory to an attack against the Shoshone and Crow
(Bryant, 1885, p. 107). Bryant and his companions informed the
Shoshone of the impending raid when they arrived at Fort Bridger on
July 17, 1846. The approximately 500 Shoshone assembled there broke
camp immediately, presumably to organize a defense (pp. 142-143).

During the decade of the 1840's, accounts of the presence of Shoshone
beyond the Continental Divide are found with increasing frequency. In
1842 W. T. Hamilton, while on the Little Wind River, noted that the
trappers and the Shoshone were in continual jeopardy in this region
because of "Blackfeet, Bloods, Piegans and Crows" (Hamilton, 1905, p.
52). Although his party was attacked by a Blackfoot group at this
time, they sighted a Shoshone party shortly thereafter (p. 61) which
was under the leadership of Chief Washakie (pp. 63-64). Other Shoshone
joined this group, claiming that they had fought with Pend Oreille
Indians near the Owl Creek Mountains on the north side of the Wind
River Valley (p. 69). (The identification of this group may well have
been erroneous in view of the northerly locale of the Pend Oreille.)
The Shoshone met by Hamilton later gathered at Bull Lake to prepare an
attack against the Blackfoot on the Big Wind River (p. 71); twenty
"Piegans" were later encountered in the Owl Creek Range (p. 80).

These events apparently transpired in the late spring or early summer
of 1842, for summer found Washakie's people at Fort Bridger (p. 92),
and later at Brown's Hole on the Green River in northwestern Colorado
where a "few Ute and Navajos came up on their annual visit with the
Shoshone, to trade and to race horses." The Shoshone left for their
fall trapping in September (p. 97), but some were there in winter camp
when Hamilton's party returned to Brown's Hole to winter (p. 118).

Hamilton's later travels took him on a buffalo hunt into the Big Horn
Basin with Washakie in October, 1843 (p. 182). At "Stinking Water"
(Shoshone River) the party encountered Crow Indians on their way to
visit the Shoshone (p. 183). The buffalo-hunting group returned to the
Green River in November for the winter (p. 186). At this time Hamilton
noted that Washakie claimed the Big Horn country as far as the
Yellowstone River, but that the Crow, Flathead, and Nez Percé hunted
upon it and it was regarded as neutral hunting ground by other tribes
(p. 187). October, 1848, again found Hamilton in the Big Horn country,
where he met a party of Shoshone in the Big Horn Mountains (p. 197).
The group was in pursuit of a Cheyenne war party that had stolen
horses from them; the offenders were overtaken on the North Platte
River and the horses were recovered (p. 198). Hamilton was informed
that Washakie was then on Greybull Creek, but planned to move to the
Shoshone River (p. 199).

Further information on the activities of the Shoshone east of the
Continental Divide comes from Bryant, who, on July 14, 1846, sighted
near Green River (Bryant, 1885, p. 136):

     ... a party of some sixty or eighty Shoshone or Snake Indians,
     who were returning from a buffalo hunt to the east of the South
     Pass. The chief and active hunters of the party were riding
     good horses. The others, among whom were some women, were
     mounted generally upon animals that appeared to have been
     nearly exhausted by fatigue. These, besides carrying their
     riders, were freighted with dried buffalo meat, suspended in
     equal divisions of bulk and weight from straps across the back.
     Several pack animals were loaded entirely with meat and were
     driven along as we drive pack mules.

The apparent increase in the use of the Wind River Valley and adjacent
areas was in part a result of Crow amity in the face of a common
enemy, but it can also be explained in terms of the Shoshone need to
seek their winter store of buffalo meat regardless of dangers. The
buffalo herds west of the Continental Divide were greatly diminished
by 1840, and, by the end of the decade, the intrusion of emigrants
must have decimated the remaining stock. As early as 1842, Fremont
commented that he saw no buffalo beyond South Pass (Fremont, 1845, p.
63), and in 1849 Major Osborne Cross observed that "scarcely any were
to be met with this side of the South Pass" (Cross, 1851, p. 178). The
Major later wrote (p. 182):

     Game in this section of the country is scarce, compared with
     the ranges passed over on the route. We had now gone nearly
     through the whole buffalo range, as but few are now met with on
     Bear River. Fifteen years ago they were to be seen in great
     numbers here, but have been diminishing greatly since that

Despite periodic forays to the east, the report of Indian Agent Wilson
of Fort Bridger in 1849 indicates that the generally recognized area
of Shoshone occupancy was substantially unchanged (J. Wilson, 1849, p.

     Their claim of boundary is to the east from the Red Buttes
     [near Casper, Wyoming], on the North Fork of the Platte, to its
     head in the Park, De-cay-a-que or Buffalo Bull-pen, in the
     Rocky Mountains; to the south, across the mountains, over to
     the Yam pa pa, till it enters Green or Colorado River; and then
     across to the Back bone or ridge of mts. called the Bear River
     mountains, running nearly due west towards the Salt Lake, so as
     to take in most of the Salt Lake, and thence on to the Sinks of
     Mary's or Humboldt River; thence north to the fisheries on the
     Snake river, in Oregon and thence south (their northern
     boundary) to the Red Buttes, including the source of Green

Joseph Lane, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon territory
also wrote in that year that "the Shoshonee or Snake Indians inhabit a
section of country west of the Rocky mountains, from the summit of
these mountains north along Wind river mountains to Henry's fork...."
(Lane, 1857, p. 158).

Continuing reference to the presence of Shoshone east of the
Continental Divide is found in reports dating from the 1850's,
although the Green River country continued as the central area of
Eastern Shoshone occupation. Indian Agent Holeman sought to bring the
Shoshone to a treaty conference at Fort Laramie in 1851 and reported
(Holeman, 1852, p. 445):

     ... met the village assembled on Sweet Water, about fifty miles
     east of the South pass. On the 21st of August I had a talk with
     them, which resulted in their selecting sixty of their
     headmen, fully authorized to act for the whole tribe....

In September, 1852, Brigham Young arranged a peace conference between
the Ute and Shoshone. The Mormon governor reported (Young, 1852, p.

     I then asked the Shoshones how they would like to have us
     settle upon their lands at Green River. They replied that the
     land at Green River did not belong to them; that they lived and
     inhabited in the vicinity of the Wind River chain of mountains
     and the Sweet River (or Sugar Water, as they called it), but
     that if we would make a settlement on Green River they would be
     glad to come to trade with us.

Difficulties soon developed between the Mormons and the Indians on
Green River (Holeman, 1858, pp. 159-160). The report of Lieutenant
Fleming of Fort Laramie in 1854 suggests that the Shoshone had not
relinquished the Green River country to the Mormon colonists, despite
Young's claim (H. B. Fleming, 1858, p. 167):

     The mountain men have wives and children among the Snake
     Indians, and therefore claim the right to the Green River
     country, in virtue of the grant given them by the Indians, to
     whom the country belongs, as no treaty has yet been made to
     extinguish their title.

The Morehead narrative in Connelley's edition of the Doniphan
expedition notes that some two or three thousand Shoshone were camped
on the Green River in the summer of 1857; Chief Washakie was present
at this encampment (Connelley, 1907, p. 607). And Alter's biography of
James Bridger states that in the winter of 1857-58 "Chief Washakie and
two thousand Shoshone tribesmen at the crossing of the Green had no
particular difficulty that winter" (Alter, 1925, p. 303). Forney, in
June, 1858, wrote of his plans to establish the Shoshone "under Chief
Wash-A-Kee" on the tributaries of the Green River (Forney, 1860_b_, p.
45) and reported that the group was located on that river in May, 1858
(Forney, 1859, p. 564).

Albert H. Campbell, General Superintendent of the Pacific Wagon Roads,
wrote in 1859 that the Shoshone were restricted to the area west of
the Rockies (1859, p. 8):

     The Snakes have received very little attention hitherto from
     the authorities of the United States, and frequent wars with
     their powerful neighbors, the Blackfeet and Crows, have
     compelled them in a manner to withdraw from the buffalo range
     and keep within the mountain fastnesses, where they derive a
     scanty subsistence from roots and the smaller game.

The total context of historical material indicates, however, that the
Shoshone were hunting buffalo on the eastern side of the Continental
Divide during this period and, in so doing, were following a pattern
of transmontane hunting familiar to us among the Plateau tribes.
Forney wrote in September, 1858 (1859, p. 564):

     I have heretofore spoken of a large tribe of Indians known as
     the Snakes. They claim a large tract of country lying in the
     eastern part of this Territory, but are scarcely ever found
     upon their own land.

     They generally inhabit the Wind River country, in Oregon and
     Nebraska Territories, and they sometimes range as far east as
     Fort Laramie, in the latter Territory. Their principal
     subsistence is the buffalo, and it is for the purpose of
     hunting them that they range so far east of their own country.
     This tribe numbers about twelve hundred souls, all under one
     principal chief, Wash-a-kee. He has perfect command over them,
     and is one of the finest looking and most intellectual Indians
     I ever saw.

The duration of the previously mentioned peaceful interlude between
the Crow and the Shoshone of Wyoming cannot be accurately determined.
However, Lander reported them at war in 1858 (1859, p. 49):

     The Crow and Shoshonee Indians having broken out into open war
     in the north, did not permit of my risking or exposing the
     large stock of mules of the expedition at the camp selected as
     the wintering ground of last year's expedition, on Wind River.

Lander encountered Washakie and "the whole of the great tribe of the
eastern Shoshonees" hunting antelope on the headwaters of the Green
River (p. 68). The Shoshone spent the winter on Wind River but "the
last account from them say they are in a starving condition; they are
at war with the Crows, and are afraid to go out to hunt for game" (p.
69). The Shoshone had fought with the Crow on October 27, 1858, which
had probably prevented them from attempting the fall buffalo hunt.
They apparently undertook a hunt during the following spring, for Will
H. Wagner, an engineer on the South Pass wagon road, observed in May
of 1859 that only a few Shoshone lodges were found on Green River, the
main body still being in the Wind River Valley (Wagner, 1861, p. 25).

In February, 1860, Lander wrote a summary of Eastern Shoshone
territorial use as of 1859 (1860, pp. 121-122):

     The Eastern Snakes range from the waters of Wind river or
     latitude 43° 30' on the north and from the South Pass to the
     headwaters of the North Platte on the east, and to Bear river
     near the mouth of Smith's Fork on the west. They extend south
     as far as Brown's Hole on Green River. Their principal
     subsistence is the roots and seeds of the wild vegetables of
     the region they inhabit, the mountain trout, with which all the
     streams of the country are abundantly supplied, and wild game.
     The latter is now very scarce in the vicinity of the new and
     old emigrant roads.

     The immense herds of antelope I remember having seen along the
     route of the new road in 1854 and 1857 seem to have
     disappeared. These Indians visit the border ground between
     their own country and the Crows and Blackfeet for the purpose
     of hunting Elk, Antelope and stray herds of buffalo. When these
     trips are made they travel only in large bands for fear of the
     Blackfeet and Crows. With the Bannacks and parties of Salt Lake
     Diggers they often make still longer marches into the
     northwestern buffalo ranges on the head waters of the Missouri
     and Yellow Stone.

     These excursions usually last over winter, the more western
     Indians who join them passing over a distance of twelve
     hundred miles on the out and return journey.

Under the leadership of Washakie, which dates from approximately the
beginning of the period of heavy emigration to the Far West, the
Shoshone of Wyoming had maintained amicable relations with the whites.
The early 1860's, however, saw increased clashes between Indians and
whites in the Bear River country and in southern Idaho. While the
activities of Chief Pocatello's band and of other hostile groups will
be further discussed in the section on Idaho, it would be well at this
point to clarify relations between Washakie's followers and the people
of Bear River. It is impossible to differentiate a Wyoming group as
distinct from the Shoshone of Bear River in earlier periods, and, in
view of the presence of buffalo in the country of the Green and Bear
rivers until at least 1840, it is more than probable that southwestern
Wyoming, northern Utah, and southeastern Idaho were common grounds
roamed over by several nomadic hunting groups. Lander recognized the
affinity between the areas, although he distinguished Washakie's
Eastern Shoshone from the Utah residents on the basis of their
respective relations with the whites (Lander, 1860, pp. 122-123):

     The Salt Lake Diggers intermarry with the Eastern Snakes and
     are on good terms with them.

     Among these Indians [the "Salt Lake Diggers"] are some of the
     worst in the mountains. Washakie will not permit a horse thief
     or vagabond to remain in his band, but many of the Mormon
     Indians go about the country with minor chiefs calling
     themselves Eastern Snakes.

     Old Snag, a chief sometimes seen on Green River, who proclaims
     himself an Eastern Snake, and friend of the Americans, is of
     this class....

     Southern Indians pass, on their way "to buffalo," (a technical
     term,) through the lands of the Eastern Snakes and Bannocks,
     and the latter are often made to bear the blame of their
     horse-stealing proclivities.

Doty reported depredations on the road between Fort Laramie and Salt
Lake City in 1862 (Doty, 1863, pp. 342, 355), and in the following
year the Army attacked a large number of the hostiles on Bear River
and inflicted very severe losses on them (War of the Rebellion, 1902,
pp. 185-187). Doty reported from Box Elder, Utah, on July 30 of the
same year (ibid., p. 219):

     A treaty of peace was this day concluded at this place by Gen.
     Connor [who led the Bear River attack] and myself with the
     bands of the Shoshones, of which Pocatello, San Pitch and
     Sagwich are the principal chiefs.

Earlier, on July 2, 1863, a treaty was entered into at Fort Bridger
between Doty and the bands of "Waushakee," "Shauwuno," "Tibagan,"
"Peoastoagah," "Totimee," "Ashingodimah," "Sagowitz," "Oretzimawik,"
"Bazil," and "Sanpitz" (Doty, 1865, p. 319). Doty noted at this time
that the Shoshone "claim their ... eastern boundary on the crest of
the Rocky mountains; but it is certain that they, as well as the
Bannacks, hunt buffalo below the Three Forks of the Missouri, and on
the headwaters of the Yellowstone" (p. 318). Doty continued (pp.

     As none of the Indians of this country have permanent places
     of abode, in their hunting excursions they wander over an
     immense region, extending from the fisheries at and below
     Salmon Falls, on the Shoshone [Snake] river, near the Oregon
     line, to the sources of that stream and to the Buffalo country

     The Shoshonees and Bannocks are the only nations which, to my
     knowledge hunt together over the same ground.

The Shoshone continued to hunt beyond the mountains after the Fort
Bridger treaty. Superintendent Irish reported in September, 1864, that
the "Shoshonees" were at Bear Lake awaiting their payment and were
impatient to "go to their winter hunting grounds on Wind River"
(Irish, 1865, p. 314). Three hundred Cheyenne lodges were reported in
Wind River Valley in May, 1865, but the group subsequently withdrew to
the "Sweetwater mountains and thence to Powder River" (Coutant, 1899,
1:440). In September, 1865, Irish reported that the Shoshone
frequented the Wind River country and the headwaters of the North
Platte and Missouri rivers (Irish, 1866, p. 311). The Superintendent
described the pattern of movement that had become established (ibid.):

     Their principal subsistence is the buffalo, which they hunt
     during the fall, winter, and spring, on which they subsist
     during that time, and return in the summer to Fort Bridger and
     Great Salt Lake City.

Agent Luther Mann of Fort Bridger added (1865, p. 327):

     They spend about eight months of the year among the Wind River
     mountains and in the valley of the Wind River, Big Horn and

     The Shoshonees are friendly with the Bannacks, their neighbor
     on the north ... but are hostile toward the tribes on their
     eastern boundaries, viz: Sioux, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and

Mann observed that the Eastern Shoshone numbered some 150 lodges.
However, he also noted that Washakie claimed to be too weak to fight
his enemies. In his next year's report, Mann wrote that on September
20, 1865, the Shoshone set out from Fort Bridger for the Wind River
and Popo Agie valleys where they hunted buffalo, deer, elk, and
mountain sheep and passed the winter. Only five to ten lodges remained
on Green River for the winter (ibid., p. 126).

The Shoshone had some difficulty with hostile tribes during their
hunts in the Wind River Valley. The battle of Crowheart Butte (near
Crowheart, Wyoming) has become a legend on the Wind River Reservation,
and the facts of the event have become well embellished. More reliable
informants claim that the Crow were encamped at the present site of
Kinnear, Wyoming, on the north side of Big Wind River and were driven
out after a strong attack by the Shoshone. The Crow detachment was
evidently not merely a war party, for the men were accompanied by
their women and children. Hebard, using documentary material
unavailable to the writers, places the date of this battle as March,
1866 (Hebard, 1930, p. 151). There is no further mention in the
sources of Crow occupation of the Wind River Valley.

This was not the end of the Shoshones' troubles, however, for in the
following year (1867), Indian Agent Mann noted (1868, p. 182):

     Immediately after the distribution of their annuity goods last
     year, they left this agency for their hunting grounds in the
     Popeaugie [Popo Agie River, near Lander, Wyo.] and Wind River
     valleys, the only portion of the country claimed by them where
     they can obtain buffalo.

     Early last spring the near approach of hostile Sioux and
     Cheyennes compelled them to leave before they could prepare
     their usual supply of dried meat for summer use.

Mann further reported that, after being paid the annuity on June 8,
1867, "they have since gone to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, as
is usual with them, preparatory to their return to their hunting
grounds in autumn" (p. 183). These accounts further document the
manner in which the Utah and Wyoming populations merged.

The Sioux were apparently especially active east of the Wind River
Range in these years and many other attacks were reported. The
Shoshone went to Wind River in 1868 and were again attacked by the
Sioux. Agent Mann reported that year that a few small bands of
Shoshone had not hunted buffalo in two years for fear of attack (Mann,
1869, pp. 616-618).

The government had a good deal of difficulty in persuading the
Shoshone to remain on the reservation established by the treaty of
1868. Captain J. H. Patterson, the new agent, wrote in 1869 (1870, p.
717): "So powerful are the Sioux, it is only after winter is far
advanced, and from that time until early in the spring, that the
Shoshones can remain on the reservation." They passed the winter of
1868-69 at Wind River, but the Sioux attacked on April 26, 1869,
before they broke winter camp (J. A. Campbell, 1870, p. 173). On
September 14, 1869, Siouan warriors attempted another foray into Wind
River Valley but were repulsed by troops. Fearful of another early
attack and wary of their new reservation co-residents, the Northern
Arapaho and Washakie left Wind River at the end of April of the
following year (1870). The Shoshone departed with little stored meat,
since they were unable to pursue the buffalo far out on the prairie
(G. W. Fleming, 1871, p. 643).

In the following years, we hear little of the hunting activities of
the Shoshone. They were moved permanently to the Wind River
Reservation, where, according to Agent James Irwin in 1873, they
showed a strong desire to abandon their nomadic ways and to learn
agriculture (Irwin, 1874, p. 612). Irwin claimed that, although the
Bannock population of the "Shoshone and Bannock Agency" at Wind River
was transferred in 1872 to Fort Hall, 216 still unsettled Shoshone had
expressed intent in the following year to move to Wind River. The
Shoshone experienced little success in their early attempts at
farming, and the government food allotments were seldom adequate to
last through the year. This, combined with the traditional value
placed on the buffalo hunt, perpetuated the nomadic pattern for a
number of years. As late as 1877, Agent Patten wrote (1878, p. 605):

     During the month of October last [1876], while the Shoshones
     were on one of their annual hunts, the village became divided;
     Washakie, with the greater portion, struck across the country
     from the base of the Sierra Shoshone Mountains to the mouth of
     Owl Creek on Big Wind River; the smallest party, under two
     braves named Na-akie and Ta-goon-dum, started for the river
     above the mouth of Grey Bull, where having arrived the prospect
     of a successful hunt was propitious. Large herds of buffalo
     were everywhere in sight; but the next morning after their
     arrival this little band, comprising men, women, and children,
     were suddenly attacked by Dull Knife's band of hostile Cheyenne

The Plains were evidently still unsafe, and hunting parties traveled
in strength. But the end of the buffalo period was not far off, for
hide-hunters and settlers had already made massive inroads on the
herds, and the open-range cattle-raising industry had begun. It is
interesting to note, however, that the itinerary followed in 1876 was
much the same as that related by Shimkin's informants and by ours.
Except for that given in the one account by Hamilton, it has no
antecedents in the historical literature.


Wind River Shoshone informants speak little of activities west of the
Continental Divide and tend to place their early economic life almost
entirely in the Missouri drainage. This is not surprising when it is
considered that eighty-six years had passed between the signing of the
Fort Bridger treaty of July 3, 1868, establishing the reservation, and
the field work reported here. Almost seventy years had elapsed between
that date and Shimkin's 1937-1938 field work. That informants have a
one-dimensional view of earlier periods in Shoshone history may well
be expected. The type of data that deals with locales and events, the
movements of peoples and situational adaptation is history of a
different kind from the traditional cultural material with which
anthropologists usually work. It would be an understatement to say
that it would tax the memory of any human being to ask exactly where
and when his people hunted many years before he was born. One of the
oldest living Shoshone, for example, responded to our question about
the location of the chief's lodge in the camp by saying that the
chiefs lived in log cabins near the Agency. And even this was quite a
mnemonic feat.

Most of the following data was obtained from informants and pertains
primarily to the early reservation period. Even for such a relatively
late time, the information is not wholly reliable and is often vague
and fragmentary. Certain aspects of these data are perpetuated in Wind
River tradition, however, and are valid for even earlier periods than
the one discussed. These concern the yearly economic cycle, the rhythm
of movement from buffalo prairies to the mountains, the coalescence
and fragmentation of social groups, the types of fish and game taken
and the technology involved--cultural facts not immediately linked to
situational, historical factors. These comments on reliability of
informants' data should be borne in mind throughout the account below.

The stable center of Eastern Shoshone settlement pattern was the
winter camp. All informants agreed that the chief winter camps were in
the valleys of the Big and Little Wind rivers, in the region of the
present Diversion Dam and Fort Washakie, respectively. There they
were protected from winter storms, and the winds blew enough snow from
the ground to allow the horses to graze. In the bottomlands by the
streams they found water and firewood and enjoyed the protection of
the cottonwood trees. In the period before the ending of intertribal
hostilities in Wyoming camps were closely clustered to allow for
mutual defense in the event of an attack, but after the pacification
of the area, people pitched their tipis farther apart. Although never
safe from attack, the Shoshone had greater security during the winter,
since the cold and snows made their enemies relatively immobile also.

Winter residence at Wind River was not obligatory. Smaller groups were
said to camp on the western slope of the Wind River Mountains, in the
vicinity of Pinedale, and others remained near Fort Bridger.
Contemporary informants gave no confirmation of Shimkin's statement
that a group of Shoshone, under Washakie, customarily wintered in the
Absaroka Mountain foothills on the head of the Grey Bull River
(Shimkin, 1947_a_, p. 247). Also, Shimkin's chart, which shows that
Shoshone occasionally spent the winter in the Powder and Sweetwater
River valleys (p. 279), probably indicates the true situation only for
the period after the area became secure from attack, in the 1870's.
All of these locales would be highly vulnerable to hostiles, as was
the Wind River Valley in the pre-reservation era, and it is highly
probable that Shimkin's informants spoke of post-reservation events
and not of a traditional pattern.

Subsistence during the winter was gained chiefly from the stored yield
of the fall buffalo hunt. The meat was dried and pounded and placed in
large rawhide bags. True pemmican was not manufactured, although the
pulverized buffalo meat was mixed with dried roots and berries
preparatory to being eaten.

Stores frequently ran low towards the end of winter, and some hardship
resulted. However, the stored food was supplemented by elk which had
been driven out of the mountains by snow, and by antelope and deer
meat. Rabbits were also snared.

Some informants stated that the Shoshone went into winter camp as
early as October. Others, however, reported that the winter camp was
made as late as December. It would seem that November to December are
the more probable times. Support for this date is found in Shimkin
(1947_a_, p. 279).

The winter camp broke up in February or March, and the spring buffalo
hunt was then launched. This was a collective venture, as opposed to
the sporadic and individual hunting that went on during the winter.
Informants were extremely vague in saying whether all the winter camp
went on the spring hunt together or whether they broke up into
parties. Shimkin states that the Shoshone split into four bands when
buffalo hunting (p. 247). Some of my own informants, however, said
that all hunted in one group under Washakie. Others said that there
were several chiefs, and each took his people where he chose.

The buffalo in springtime were not of good quality, and the lean,
tough meat was considered very inferior to the fat meat obtained in
the fall. Informants said that the chief purpose of the spring hunt
was to obtain hides for tipis (and all the other uses to which buffalo
hide was put) and to get fresh meat. The spring hunt was generally
pursued in the Big Horn Basin, although there were buffalo in the Wind
River Valley itself, which were also hunted. Although the former
locale is most frequently mentioned, it should be assumed that the
migratory habits of the buffalo imposed some variability.

After the spring hunt, the Shoshone reconvened in Wind River Valley
and in June held their Sun Dance. This was a period of general
gathering and involved visits of people from other areas.

After the Sun Dance was concluded, the participants withdrew from the
valley lands and retired to the Green River country and the mountains
until the autumn buffalo hunt. At this time, the larger buffalo-hunt
and Sun Dance group broke into small units and scattered in several
directions. Shimkin maps some of the trails followed by the summer
hunting parties (p. 249). Although there was considerable deviation
from the trails he indicates, they show a penetration of the
Yellowstone and Jackson Hole country, the Owl Creek Mountains, and the
Green River and Bear River regions.

Shimkin's chart of the yearly subsistence cycle shows June and July as
a period of intertribal rendezvous while August and early September
were spent in family groups (p. 279). My informants indicated that
small groups of families were the essential social and economic units
from June to September; the trade rendezvous held in the Green River
country ended by 1840. Some Shoshone said the summer group
consisted of only one tipi, while others claimed that this was a
post-reservation pattern. In earlier times, it was said, the need for
security from attack caused groups of from six to ten tipis (this
figure is highly uncertain) to travel together. These summer groups
were probably the most stable and cohesive units in Eastern Shoshone
society, although there was a good deal of interchange of members.

Although each summer group often followed the same general route every
year, other groups could and did hunt this territory. There was no
sense of group or band ownership of the lands habitually visited, and
a group could alter or change its route. In June many people went to
the Sweetwater region and across South Pass to hunt antelope. Antelope
were also hunted at various times of the year north of Wind River on
the benches at the foot of the Owl Creek Range and in the Green River
country. In the latter area, the Eastern Shoshone were frequently
joined in September by Shoshone and Bannock from Idaho.

There were several routes to the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone country.
The Yellowstone does not seem to have been visited as frequently
before the final pacification of the area, owing, no doubt, to the
proximity of Crow and Blackfoot. Some groups followed the most direct
route--through the Wind River Valley and across Togwatee Pass (the
present route of U. S. Highway 287). Others hunted first in the Owl
Creek Mountains and then crossed west into the Wind River Valley at
Dubois and thence through Togwatee Pass. Still another route led
through the "Rough Trail," now called Washakie Pass, in the Wind River
Range and gave access to the Pinedale area and the western slope of
the range. From that point, groups hunted in this immediate region or
went northwest to Jackson Hole or south to the Fort Bridger area. Any
one of these routes could be used for the return to Wind River and the
subsequent fall buffalo hunt, but there was a tendency to return by a
different trail than that used on the outward trip.

Summer subsistence activities were varied, but none called for
extensive coöperation beyond the immediate family or the small summer
group. Antelope hunting west of the Continental Divide called for
some joint endeavor, though not on the scale of the buffalo hunt.
Moose and elk were hunted by smaller parties in the high mountain
parks and forests of the Wind River, Grand Teton, and Owl Creek
Mountains. The last range was especially noted for a plentiful supply
of mountain sheep. Deer were killed and rabbits were taken throughout
the year. Sage hens were snared in the spring, and duck were killed on
Bull Lake in Wind River Valley in the fall. After 1840, there were
almost no buffalo left on the west side of the Wind River Range,
although before that time they were pursued there by the Shoshone.
However, the Wind River Valley abounded in buffalo until relatively
late, for the worst excesses of the white hide-hunters did not begin
until after the Civil War. Buffalo were also killed in the Owl Creek
and Wind River foothills and were taken also in Jackson Hole and
Yellowstone Park. Also, a smaller variety of buffalo, called timber
buffalo, which did not follow the migratory pattern of the larger
Plains type, was killed in the high mountain parks.

Fish were of fundamental importance, especially, according to Shimkin
(1947_a_, p. 268), during the spring. Mountain trout were the main
fish; the Eastern Shoshone did not join their colinguists in salmon
fishing on the Columbia waters, at least during this later period.
Shimkin specifically states that "no private ownership of good fishing
places existed, and dams and weirs were not maintained from year to
year" (ibid.). This accords with our own field data.

Summer economic activities involved little estensive coöperation and,
since game was scattered through the mountains rather than
concentrated in large herds, the small groups of families were the
most effective economic units. It is significant in this connection
that, as soon as the security of the country was guaranteed by the
presence of the whites, the one-or two-tipi summer camp displaced its
somewhat larger predecessor. Game in the pre-treaty period was
plentiful in the Wyoming mountains and a single family or small group
of tipis could gain adequate subsistence; the principal reason for
larger gatherings in the summer was defense. The yield probably became
better after camp groups became smaller, for locales were not hunted
out as rapidly.

The only economic activity other than the buffalo hunt which called
for the coöperation of a large group of men was antelope hunting.
Antelope were usually surrounded by the hunters and run in circles by
relays of mounted men. Unlike the Nevada population, the Eastern
Shoshone did not build brush corrals or employ antelope shamans.

Women's economic life could be pursued by individuals. In addition to
cooking, dressing skins, and other household chores, women's efforts
provided all the vegetable foods consumed by the Shoshone. This
activity went on from summer into fall. Various berries were
collected; gooseberries, currants, buffalo berries, and chokecherries
being the most important. All these berries grew near streams and
ripened about August. Gooseberries and chokecherries can be found in
the mountains and foothills while buffalo berries and currants grow in
the lower valleys. The berries were dried and stored for future use.

Roots, also, were a valuable adjunct to the diet. Yamp, the principal
root, was found in the mountains. Bitterroot was dug on prairie hills,
wild potatoes were found in the foothills, and the wild onion grew in
the valley floors. Although special trips were not made to root
grounds (in contrast to the congregations for camas in Idaho) the
women dug them out with pointed sticks near favorable hunting camps.
One informant spoke, for example, of the rich yamp grounds in the Big
Horn Mountains. All the women of the camp group went out together to
dig roots. This was for purposes of companionship; each woman dug and
kept her own tubers.

In September, the scattered camp groups reunited at Wind River for the
fall buffalo hunt. The buffalo was a critical factor in Wind River
subsistence, for it provided the margin of survival through the long
winter. The Eastern Shoshone were frequently joined in the buffalo
hunt by other Shoshone from the Bear River country and, less often, by
Shoshone and Bannock from Idaho. The last two groups usually hunted
buffalo in Montana with certain Plateau tribes, and their routes did
not usually coincide. Informants uniformly said that all the Eastern
Shoshone went out to hunt buffalo together, and Shimkin (1947_a_, p.
280) states that "in full strength, often with Bannocks or others
accompanying them, they would cross the Wind River Range" for the fall
hunt. It seems certain that, insofar as they may have penetrated far
north into the Big Horn Basin, numerical strength was necessary during
the immediate pre-reservation period and shortly thereafter.

As the buffalo camp moved out on the range, scouts were sent ahead to
locate the herds. The actual techniques used by hunters were much the
same as among the Plains tribes. Ideally, two horses were used, one
for riding within reach of the herd, the other a swift horse trained
to run close to the buffalo while avoiding the animal's horns. The
herd was surrounded and run, and the flanking hunters shot arrows and
launched spears at the prey. When a buffalo was killed, the hunter
threw an arrow or some personal, identifying possession on the carcass
to mark it as his.

This was apparently the main technique for buffalo hunting. They were
not stampeded over cliffs, as was the practice of some Indian tribes.
One informant said that Chief Washakie would not permit it for reasons
of conservation. Occasionally, hunters on foot stalked and killed
buffalo with the bow and arrow, but such activities did not take place
during the communal hunts.

When on the fall hunt, individual hunters did not attack the herds,
for the animals might stampede for long distances after only one or
two were killed. The fall hunt was organized coöperatively, but
informants denied the existence of the typical Plains police, or
soldier, societies or any comparable form of institutionalized
discipline to prevent individual hunting.

The time spent in the fall hunt, including travel, appears to have
been about two months--from mid-September to mid-November. Meat and
hides were prepared by the women and packed back to winter camp.
Shimkin doubts the efficiency of the buffalo hunt (1947_a_, p. 266).
If it is assumed that each family had from five to ten horses, three
of which were needed to drag the tipi and utensil-loaded travois and
three for riding, only two horses were, according to his reasoning,
available for packing. Since one would be loaded with hides for trade,
only one was available for carrying meat. The supply carried was
sufficient for no more than twenty days, Shimkin concludes.

The mounted buffalo hunters were not the only Shoshone inhabitants of
Wyoming, and one more group remains to be discussed. In the mountain
chain extending from the Wind River Range northwest to the Teton and
Gros Ventres ranges and northward into Yellowstone lived a Shoshone
population known as the Dukarika, or Sheepeaters. These Dukarika are
not to be confused with a Shoshone population of the same name in the
mountains of Idaho. The two were socially and geographically separate;
their common name is due only to the fact that there were mountain
sheep in the habitats of both. The name thus has no more significance
in terms of political organization than do the food names applied to
Shoshone living in certain areas of Nevada and Idaho.

There is little documentary information on the Dukarika, and
contemporary Wind River informants knew very little about them. Our
earliest reference to these secluded people is found in Bonneville's
journals, when, in September, 1833, three Indians were sighted in the
Wind River Range. Irving writes (1850, p. 139):

     Captain Bonneville at once concluded that these belonged to a
     kind of hermit race, scanty in number, that inhabit the highest
     and most inaccessible fastnesses. They speak the Shoshone
     language and probably are offsets from that tribe, though they
     have peculiarities of their own, which distinguish them from
     all other Indians. They are miserably poor, own no horses, and
     are destitute of every convenience to be derived from an
     intercourse with the whites. Their weapons are bows and
     stone-pointed arrows, with which they hunt the deer, the elk,
     and the mountain sheep. They are to be found scattered about
     the countries of the Shoshone, Flathead, Crow, and Blackfeet
     tribes; but their residences are always in lonely places, and
     the clefts of rocks.

Osborne Russell, when trapping in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone Park in
July, 1835, observed (1955, p. 26):

     Here we found a few Snake Indians comprising six men, seven
     women, and eight or ten children who were the only inhabitants
     of this lonely and secluded spot. They were all neatly clothed
     in dressed deer and sheep skins of the best quality and seemed
     to be perfectly contented and happy.

The Indians had "about thirty dogs on which they carried their skins,
clothing, provisions, etc., on their hunting excursions. They were
well armed with bows and arrows pointed with obsidian" (ibid.).
Russell also saw other "Mountain Snakes" near the headwaters of the
Shoshone River (ibid., p. 64). Speaking of the Dukarika, Hiram
Chittenden says (1933, p. 8):

     It was a humble branch of the Shoshone family which alone is
     known to have dwelt in the region of Yellowstone Park. They
     were called Tuakuarika, or more commonly Sheepeaters. They were
     found in the park country at the time of its discovery, and had
     doubtless long been there. The Indians were veritable hermits
     of the mountains, utterly unfit for warlike contention, and
     seem to have sought immunity from their dangerous neighbors by
     dwelling among the inaccessible fastnesses of the mountains.

Chittenden continues:

     We-Saw [an Indian who accompanied Capt. Jones in 1873] states
     that he had neither knowledge nor tradition of any permanent
     occupants of the Park save the timid Sheepeaters.... He said
     that his people [Shoshone], the Bannocks, and the Crows,
     occasionally visited the Yellowstone Lake and River.

Captain W. A. Jones, when on his 1873 expedition to Yellowstone Park,
commented that one of the Indians with him, a Sheepeater, knew the
route back to Wind River (Jones, 1875, p. 39). Beyond these few
citations, the Sheepeaters are almost unmentioned.

In contrast to the previously described Shoshone, the Dukarika
traveled mostly on foot, although a very few had horses. They hunted
timber buffalo near the mountain lakes and killed elk, deer, and the
mountain sheep for which they were named. Antelope were occasionally
hunted near Pinedale by those who owned horses. The best hunting
grounds were considered to be those near Pinedale and on the west
slope of the Wind River Range. Although some Sheepeaters inhabited
Yellowstone Park, their main hunting grounds were farther south. The
Sheepeaters were by no means the only Indians who made use of the
Yellowstone region. Hultkrantz also mentions entry by parties of
"Kiowa, Plains Shoshoni, Lemhi Shoshoni, Bannock, Crow, Blackfoot and
Nez Percé" (Hultkrantz, 1954, p. 140).

All game was tracked and cornered by dogs and dispatched with the bow
and arrow; the buffalo lance was used only by mounted hunters of
Plains buffalo. Dogs were also used for packing--both on back and by

In addition to their hunting activities, the Sheepeaters speared trout
in the spring and summer. Nets, traps, and weirs were apparently not
used. They also made use of the wild vegetables (previously listed)
that grow in the mountains.

The Sheepeaters stayed in the mountains during the winter and did not
join the valley winter camps of the buffalo hunters. They lived on
stored meat and also continued to take elk, rabbits, and deer. Hunting
was usually done on snowshoes.

Their camp groups were small, and, although no exact figure could be
obtained, they never numbered more than the occupants of a few
buffalo-hide tipis. Each such group had its leader who decided the
hunting itinerary. The Dukarikas had no over-all political
organization; each small camp group was politically and economically
autonomous. "Dukarika," then, can be assumed to be a term defining a
type of economic adaptation rather than a social unit.

The discreet Dukarika social units did not assert hunting rights to
particular territories. Any group could hunt where it pleased, and
they in no way resisted or resented the entry of the mounted Shoshone
during the summer. Although they undoubtedly had contact with the
latter, they did not join the spring or fall buffalo hunts, nor did
they at any time during the pre-treaty period acknowledge the
political leadership of the valley people. After the reservation was
established, however, they left the mountains and settled in the Trout
Creek section of the Wind River Reservation.


Thus far, we have presented the pertinent historical data on Shoshone
ecology in Wyoming and adjacent parts of northern Utah and we have
described the annual cycle of economic activities during the early
reservation period. The following summary of information on Eastern
Shoshone territory will consider both kinds of data but will not
attempt to delineate the social and political affiliations of the
peoples using the lands. This subject, as the previously cited
statement by Shimkin suggests (p. 300), is extremely complex and will
be reserved for further discussion.

The most perplexing problem presented by the Eastern Shoshone is the
extent of their penetration into the Missouri River waters. Although
the Shoshone evidently undertook forays at least as far east as Fort
Laramie, contemporary informants and historical sources agree that
their main hunting grounds extended no farther east than the
Sweetwater and other headwaters of the North Platte River. We have no
certain information of Shoshone use of lands east of the upper
Sweetwater River, and informants gave no data on this sector.

Wind River Shoshone informants relate the itineraries of
buffalo-hunting parties northward into the Big Horn Basin. The fall
and spring buffalo hunts were said to have taken place in the region
of Thermopolis, Wyoming, and as far north as Cody and Greybull,
Wyoming. The region east of the Big Horn Mountains was thought by
informants to have been occasionally visited, but was acknowledged as
the hunting grounds of hostile tribes. The presence of a "mixed party
of Shoshone and Flatheads" in the Big Horn Mountains was noted by the
westward-bound Astoria party in 1811 (Irving, 1890, p. 196) and
indicates some early penetration of the area, although the presence of
Flathead Indians suggests that the party had entered the area via
Idaho and Montana and not from Green River. However, pre-reservation
historical data show that before the 1840's the Eastern Shoshone
largely restricted their buffalo hunting to the region west of the
Continental Divide and sporadically penetrated the Wind River and Big
Horn basins only after the buffalo disappeared from the country beyond
the Rockies. Their entry into the eastern buffalo range became more
frequent in the 1850's, but it by no means constituted an exclusive
monopoly on lands there. They depended upon their numbers for
protection and were forced to compete with other tribes for the right
to hunt on the land. Their hunting excursions were in the nature of
forays and were unsuccessful in some years. They enjoyed security and
some assurance of success in the hunt only after they had been placed
under the protection of Federal troops and the Crow had been placed on
reservations. That the center of Shoshone occupancy lay west of the
Continental Divide was affirmed by Chief Washakie. Agent Head wrote in
1867 (1868, p. 186):

     Washakee said that the country east from the Wind river
     mountains, to the settled portions of eastern Nebraska and
     Kansas, had always been claimed by four principal Indian
     tribes--the Sioux, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and Crows.

Further evidence that the valleys of the Big Horn and Wind rivers were
used only for buffalo hunting and not stably occupied in the
pre-reservation period is indicated by the Shoshones' ignorance of the
hunting grounds in the surrounding mountains. Captain Jones used
Shoshone guides from Camp Brown on the new Wind River Reservation when
he undertook his exploration of Yellowstone Park in 1873. The captain
and his party penetrated the Owl Creek Range, north of the reservation
and found at the head of Owl Creek a lovely park (Jones, 1875, p.

     This park bears many evidences of having been used as a hiding
     place. Our Indians knew nothing of it, and yet there are all
     through it numerous trails, old lodge poles, bleached bones of
     game, and old camps of Cheyennes and Arapahoes.

Shimkin (1947_a_, p. 248) notes that this park was one of the "foci"
of Shoshone nomadic activity, a place to which Wind River people
repaired for summer hunting. Although this is true for later times, it
certainly was not so in the pre-reservation period when hunts on the
Missouri waters were conducted only for limited periods and in the
plains and valleys where buffalo were to be found.

Until the late 1860's the Wind River Valley and the Big Horn Basin and
Mountains were zones of penetration rather than occupation of the
Eastern Shoshone. Another such zone is in the Tetons and Yellowstone.
This is confirmed by the journal of Captain Jones, who commented upon
the unfamiliarity of his Shoshone guides with the country around
Yellowstone Lake (Jones, 1875, p. 23). He wrote (p. 34):

     ... the Indians have failed to find the trail back to
     Yellowstone Lake.... The explanation of this is that they are
     "Plains Indians," and are wholly unaccustomed to travel among
     forests like these.

Later, the exploring party reached the upper Yellowstone River, above
the lake, where Jones commented (p. 39):

     We have now reached a country from which one of our Indians
     says he knows the way back to Camp Brown by the head of Wind
     River. He belongs to a band of Shoshones called "Sheepeaters,"
     who have been forced to live for a number of years in the
     mountains away from the tribe.

The Yellowstone area was frequently entered by the Crow and was
evidently not a Shoshone hunting territory, except for the
Sheepeaters. Jackson Hole is more commonly mentioned by informants as
a place of summer hunting activity, but the above information from
Jones would suggest that parties entered it from the Green River
country rather than from Wind River. The Eastern Shoshone apparently
did not move west of the Tetons except when visiting the Shoshone and
Bannock of Idaho. It should be mentioned at this point that the
Shoshone and Bannock also hunted in the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone
country, probably to a greater extent than did the Eastern Shoshone,
and the frequent mention of parties of Blackfoot and other hostiles in
the country both east and west of the Teton Range indicates that the
weaker Shoshone experienced no little danger there.

The valley of the Salt River in western Wyoming was used by both Idaho
and Wyoming Shoshone. Idaho Shoshone and Bannock frequently entered
the valleys of the Green River and its tributaries to hunt antelope in
the fall. These people apparently mixed so frequently with the Eastern
Shoshone in this area that it is most expedient to differentiate the
respective populations according to where they wintered. On the west,
Wind River Shoshone informants now make little mention of any use of
the Bear River and Bear Lake country, despite the apparent
interchangeability of population in the pre-reservation period; again,
it must be assumed that informant data does not much antedate the
move to Wind River.

The southern and southeastern limits of the Shoshone range in Wyoming
are most vague. They probably extended as far south as the Yampa River
in Colorado and the Uinta Range in Utah; Lander places their southern
limits at Brown's Hole, in northwestern Colorado on the Green River
(Lander, 1860, p. 121).

It is doubtful whether the country as far east as the North Platte and
south to the Yampa was intensively exploited. Informants knew of no
significant activities which went on in those areas, although they
thought that antelope were occasionally hunted there. Most agreed that
the Sweetwater River and Rawlins, Wyoming, were in Shoshone country,
but Casper, Wyoming, and the Medicine Bow Mountains were excluded.
Shimkin's map shows no regular utilization of the southeastern corner
of Shoshone country (Shimkin, 1947_a_, map 1, p. 249), although my
informants spoke of antelope hunts on the south side of South Pass. We
can conclude that this whole area was, like many other sections, an
area of occasional penetration. It is doubtful whether the poorly
watered country between the Green and North Platte rivers was
intensively used by any Indian group.


A good deal of Eastern Shoshone social organization has already been
described in the section on the subsistence cycle and in the context
of historical data. Although the summer was spent in scattered groups,
the collective buffalo hunt and the large winter camp made these
Shoshone among the best organized of all the Shoshone population.
Horses, a richer game supply, and the constant need for protection
caused the Eastern Shoshone to travel in much larger groups than those
of Nevada and perhaps also of Idaho, and leadership was,
correspondingly, more highly developed. We hear early of the "'Horn
Chief,' a distinguished chief and warrier of the Shoshonee tribe," who
was frequently encountered in the Bear River region (Ferris, 1940, pp.
71-73). Ferris also tells of two other Shoshone chiefs, but does not
localize them or their following (p. 309):

     The principal chief of the Snakes is called the "_Iron
     Wristband_," a deceitful fellow, who pretends to be a great
     friend of the whites, and promises to punish his followers for
     killing them or stealing their horses. The "_Little Chief_" a
     brave young warrior, is the most noble and honorable character
     among them.

Ferris also mentions a Shoshone leader named "Cut Nose," who, he said,
assumed white dress and left the tribe (p. 310).

During the 1840's the name of Washakie is mentioned with increasing
frequency in historical sources and thereafter this chief overshadows
all other leaders. We first hear of him from the trapper Russell who
recorded a conversation at Weber River, Utah, in which the Shoshone
leaders were discussed (Russell, 1921, pp. 114-116).

     One remarked that the Snake chief, Pah-da-hewak um da was
     becoming very unpopular and it was the opinion of the Snakes in
     general that Moh-woom-hah, his brother, would be at the head of
     affairs before twelve months, as his village already amounted
     to more than three hundred lodges, and, moreover, he was
     supported by the bravest men in the nation, among whom were
     Ink-a-tosh-a-pop, Fibe-bo-un-to-wat-see and Who-sha-kik, who
     were the pillars of the nation and at whose names the Blackfeet
     quaked with fear.

The death of the first two brothers in 1842 and 1843 resulted in
considerable disorganization, according to Russell, and "the tribe
scattered in smaller villages over the country in consequence of
having no chief who could control and keep them together" (pp.

Washakie is next mentioned in Hamilton's journal as a Shoshone chief
encountered on Wind River (Hamilton, 1905, p. 63). In 1849, Agent
Wilson listed him among the chiefs of the mounted Shoshone (J. Wilson,
1849, p. 1002).

     The principal chiefs of the Sho-sho-nies are Mono, about
     forty-five years old, so called from a wound in the face or
     cheek, from a ball that disfigures him; Wiskin, Cut-hair;
     Washikick, Gourd-rattle, (with whom I have had an interview;)
     and Oapichi, Big Man. Of the Sho-sho-nees Augatsira is the most

Washakie maintained good relations with the whites and in 1852
appeared in Salt Lake City to arrange peaceful trade with the Mormons.
Also in 1852, Brigham Young's peace conference between the Ute and
Shoshone included "Anker-howhitch (Arrow-pine being sick) and
thirty-four lodges; on the part of the Shoshones, Wah-sho-kig,
To-ter-mitch, Watchenamp, Ter-ret-e-ma, Pershe-go, and twenty-six
lodges...." (Young, 1852, p. 437). Of these five Shoshone chiefs, only
Washakie is subsequently mentioned in the literature. Brigham Young
apparently recognized Washakie as the leader of the Eastern Shoshone,
for in or about 1854 he sent a Mormon, Bill Hickman, to establish
contact with Washakie in the Green River country (Hickman, 1872, p.
105). Superintendent Forney reported of the Shoshone in 1859 (1860_a_,
p. 731):

     One of these [the fourteen bands listed by Forney], by common
     consent, is denominated a tribe, and is under the complete
     control of Chief Was-a-kee, assisted by four to six sub-chiefs.
     These number, at least, twelve hundred.

If this census is accurate, this number must have included most of the
Eastern Shoshone population.

Washakie gained fame as the friend of the white man. This reputation
was well deserved, for the wagon route through southwestern Wyoming
was made quite safe for the emigrants through his efforts.
Furthermore, hostile, predatory bands never developed among the
Eastern Shoshone as they did among the Shoshone and Paiute to the
west. In a report dated February, 1860, Lander observed (1860, p.
121): "No instance is on record of the Eastern Snakes having committed
outrages upon the whites." We obtain a fuller description of Washakie
in the same report (p. 122).

     Wash-ikeek, the principal Chief of the tribe, is half Flathead.
     He obtained his popularity in the nation by various feats as a
     warrior and, it is urged by some of the mountaineers, by his
     extreme severity. This has, in one or two instances, extended
     so far as taking life. The word Washikee or Washikiek signifies
     "Gambler's Gourd." He was originally called "Pina-qua-na" or
     "Smell of Sugar." "Push-i-can" or "Pur-chi-can," another war
     chief of the Snakes, bears upon his forehead the scar of a blow
     of the tomahawk given by Washikee in one of these altercations.
     Washikee, who is also known by the term of "the white man's
     friend," was many years ago in the employment of the American
     and Hudson's Bay Fur Companies. He was the constant companion
     of the white trappers, and his superior knowledge and
     accomplishments may be attributed to this fact.

Other names than that of Washakie are noted among the lists of chiefs
in Wyoming and Utah during the early 1860's. Among the Indians
reported killed at Bear River in 1863 were Bear Hunter, Sagwich, and
Leight (War of the Rebellion, 1902, p. 187). In the same source, the
chiefs Pocatello and San Pitch were said to be still at large. These
chiefs were usually in Utah and were independent of Washakie's band,
although the relations between Wyoming and Bear River would suggest
considerable interchange, even inseparability, of population. The
virtual impossibility of dividing bands and populations during this
period is indicated by Doty's list of the participants in the Fort
Bridger Treaty of 1863. Doty claimed that between three and four
thousand Indians were represented by the signatories and over one
thousand people were present at the treaty (1865, p. 319):

     They are known as Waushakee's band (who is the principal chief
     of the nation), Wonapitz's band, Shauwuno's band, Tibagan's
     band, Peoastogah's band, Totimee's band, Ashingodimah's band
     (he was killed at the battle on Bear River) Sagowitz's band
     (wounded at the same battle) Oretzimawik's band, Bazil's band,
     Sanpitz's band. The bands of this chief and of Sagowitz were
     nearly exterminated in the same battle.

In a later compendium of chiefs Powell and Ingalls listed Sanpits as a
Cache Valley chief over a group of 124, Sai-guits as the leader of 158
Shoshone also in Cache Valley, Tav-i-wun-shean as headman at Bear Lake
with 17 people, and Po-ka-tel-lo as chief over 101 Indians at Goose
Creek (Powell and Ingalls, 1874, p. 419).

Washakie evidently owed his position to a combination of his status as
a war-leader, as a recognized intermediary with the whites, and as an
unusually strong personality. However, as we shall see later, there
were other chiefs among the Wyoming Shoshone, and Washakie's position,
although always strong, was never completely unchallenged. Much of his
strength derived from recognition by the whites, and the government
officials made every effort to bolster Washakie's prestige actively.
Lander, for example, urged: "Any steps which could be taken to augment
the power of Washakee, who is perfectly safe in his attachment to the
Americans and northern mountaineers, would also prove beneficial"
(Lander, 1860, p. 123). Also, Agent Mann reported in 1868 the
deviation of many Shoshone from Washakie's leadership in the following
terms (1869, p. 618):

     This diminution of his strength is not satisfactory to
     Washakie; hence I have instructed all who have the means and
     are not too aged belonging to these bands to follow Washakie,
     impressing them with the fact that he alone is recognized as
     their head, and assuring them that if they expect to share the
     reward they must participate in all dangers incident to the
     tribe. [Mann refers to residence on the often attacked Wind
     River Reservation.]

This situation grew worse shortly after the treaty. Mann reported in
1869 (1870, p. 716): "A strong party is now separated from Washakie,
and under the leadership of a half-breed, who has always sustained a
good character, but who is, nevertheless, crafty and somewhat
ambitious." Mann's successor. Captain J. H. Patterson, said in the
same year. (Patterson, 1870, p. 717):

     Washakie, the head chief, is rapidly losing his influence in
     the tribe, though he has yet the larger band under his
     immediate command; all or nearly all of the young men are with
     the other chiefs. This division looks badly.

He goes on to identify some of these chiefs (ibid.):

     Shortly after my arrival [June 24, 1869] Nar-kok's band of
     Shoshones came in to receive their goods. Washakie's,
     Tab-on-she-ya's, and Bazil's bands were near at hand.

The size of these bands is indicated in the following year, when Agent
Fleming commented that Washakie's people "were joined by Tab-en-shen
and Bazil, with about 64 lodges" (G. W. Fleming, 1871, p. 644).
However, Washakie maintained his position of spokesman for the Eastern
Shoshone. Governor J. A. Campbell claimed in 1870 (1871, p. 639):

     Wash-a-kie ... has great influence with his tribe, which I have
     endeavored to retain for him by always recognizing him as their
     chief, and referring all others of his tribe to him as the only
     one through whom I can hold any communication with them.

Wind River Shoshone informants showed more confusion over
chieftainship and patterns of leadership, in general, than on any
other subject. All knew of Washakie and recognized his chieftaincy,
but of those chiefs mentioned in sources confirmation was received
only of Nar-kok, and this from but one informant. Shimkin mentions
four main bands, each with its own chief (1947_a_, p. 247):

     The band led by Ta'wunasia would go down the Sweetwater to the
     upper North Platte [for the buffalo hunt]. That led by
     Di'kandimp went straight east to the Powder River Valley; that
     led by No'oki skirted the base of the Big Horn Mountains,
     passing through Crow territory, then swung south again to the
     Powder River Valley. Washakie ascended Big Wind River, and then
     crossed the divide to winter near the headquarters of the

Except for Washakie, No'oki was the only one of the above chiefs given
also by our informants. Parenthetically, it should be emphasized that
most of our informants stated that all the Eastern Shoshone hunted
buffalo together for self-protection. The preceding historical
account also suggests that Shimkin's data do not represent a stable
traditional pattern, since the Plains were almost untenable until
after the treaty, except for short hunts in strength.

The following is a list of Wind River chiefs in the early reservation
period, as given by informants. It should be remembered that a man
might have more than one name, and phonetic transcriptions usually
vary according to the recorder (and the informant).

    Wanhi (Wantni)
    Ohata (Ohotwe)
    Dupeshipöoi (Dupíshibowoi)
    Bohowansiye (Bohowosa)
    Noki (No'oki of Shimkin)
    Nakok (Narkok)

Washakie was mentioned by most informants as the head chief of the
Eastern Shoshone. One old woman, however, said that he was more of a
chief in the eyes of the whites than among the Shoshone; another
commented that there were many chiefs, but that only Washakie was
known by the whites. Washakie's most important function was to
represent the Shoshone before the whites; this is understandable since
the whites would deal with nobody else.

It was also commonly agreed that Washakie led the collective buffalo
hunt, although the oldest man on the reservation claimed that there
were many chiefs and that there was no special leader for the buffalo
hunt. Informants said, furthermore, that the head chief acted as such
only during those times of the year when all the people were together.
Some stated that he directed them to the winter encampment and told
them where to go in springtime and summer. Washakie was said to have
acted at these times in council with the lesser chiefs and decisions
were made known to the camp through an announcer. One informant said
that Noki (No'oki) acted as announcer. The statement that Washakie
assigned summer hunting areas to bands is undoubtedly erroneous, for
it conflicts with the testimony of most informants that each group
went where it chose.

There was also disagreement on the extent of Washakie's influence.
According to some informants, the term "Buffalo Eaters," as applied to
Washakie's Wind River band, did not denote the people in the Green
River country. Wanhi was said to be the chief of the people in the
Fort Bridger area and not Washakie, who was chief only in Wind River.
This division probably refers to the split between those who chose to
settle on the reservation and those who did not.

Despite considerable confusion about the role of the subchiefs, or
lesser chiefs, they appear to have been men of prestige who had their
own small following, although they recognized the personal influence
of Washakie during large gatherings and general band endeavors. When
not on the buffalo hunt or in winter camp these smaller groups of
families, led by one or two of the minor leaders, functioned
autonomously. Their itineraries and activities have already been

The small band was undoubtedly a much more basic unit in Eastern
Shoshone society than the "tribe" as a whole. Intermarriage linked the
small camp groups, although one could marry into his own unit if
incest rules, as determined by kinship bonds, were not violated.
There was no obligatory rule of residence, but the couple more
frequently resided after marriage with the bride's family. This was
not necessarily a permanent arrangement, and visits were made to the
families of either mate for extended periods. This, combined with
individual freedom of choice of band membership, caused affiliations
to be shifting and fluid. Ultimately these Shoshone were bilocal and
neolocal. As has been said, the bands were not territory-owning units,
and their chief functions were to provide economic coöperation and
defense against enemies.

Leadership was an attained status and was not transmitted by descent.
Raynolds, however, refers to Cut-Nose as being the "hereditary chief
of the Snakes," according to information received from Jim Bridger
(Raynolds, 1868, p. 95), and the reservation chieftaincy passed
patrilineally in Washakie's family until the Reorganization Act
established the tribal council. However, all informants agreed that
one became a chief owing to merit--primarily through renown as a
warrior. That the chieftaincy was neither inherited nor permanent is
indicated by the proliferation of chiefs' names in historical sources.
Except for such figures as Washakie and Pocatello, a chief is rarely
mentioned twice, and it can be hypothesized that many were the leaders
of ephemeral predatory bands that arose for specific purposes of
defense or agression against the whites and dissolved shortly after
the period of emergency passed. Finally, any man who had achieved
renown and prestige or was the leader of a camp group, was known as a
"chief," for the lack of institutionalization and formalization of the
office made its tenure most nebulous.

It was not even necessary that a Shoshone chief be a Shoshone. During
1858, we hear of a Delaware Indian named Ben Simons, undoubtedly a
former fur trapper, who was at the head of some 150-400 Shoshone on
the upper Bear River (Gove, 1928, pp. 133, 146, 277). And Washakie,
himself, was born into the Flathead tribe. Washakie's Flathead father
was killed by the Blackfoot, and his mother sought refuge with the
Lemhi River Shoshone of Idaho. He eventually gained renown in the
Green and Bear River country as a warrior and attained his final
position as a successful mediator with the whites.

Finally, Washakie's career gives additional evidence that there were
no hard and fast lines between the so-called "Eastern Shoshone" and
other Shoshone groups. Washakie's wanderings, according to Wilson,
took him into Utah, Idaho, and Montana (E. N. Wilson, 1926, pp.
68-73). This was consistent with the general Shoshone pattern of
visiting between areas for short or extended periods. The unique
character of Washakie's leadership can best be explained in terms of
contact with the whites and the Shoshones' need to expand into the
buffalo grounds east of the Rocky Mountains. First, Washakie united
and represented all those Shoshone who did not choose to join their
fellows in northern Utah and southern Idaho in hostilities against the
whites. Second, Washakie was an able and vigorous war leader under
whom the embattled Shoshone could rally. Although at no time a
separate, territorially distinct and exclusive group, the Eastern
Shoshone evidently became somewhat differentiated from their people to
the west by the latter's long distance from the shrinking buffalo
grounds and by their distaste for the warlike activities of their Utah
and Idaho fellows. The Eastern Shoshone, however, did not attempt to
maintain the area over which they roamed to the exclusion of other
Shoshone and of the Bannock. Their neighbors and colinguists to the
west, if they were properly mounted, could and did join with them in
buffalo hunting.


The Shoshone of western Wyoming were a mobile population whose primary
subsistence was provided by buffalo herds. The Shoshone of Idaho
showed no such unity of ecological adaptation, for the region was
inhabited by mounted buffalo hunters and by less prosperous Shoshone
who fished and gathered wild vegetables for a livelihood. While the
buffalo hunters tended to be located in the southeastern part of Idaho
and the fishing and gathering peoples in the southwestern, the mounted
hunters traveled throughout the southern part of the state and, at
certain times of the year, mingled with the poorer, footgoing Indians.

Because of this diversity we have divided Idaho into six subregions
and present the historical and ethnographic data pertinent to each
area under a separate heading. Indians mentioned in the historical
sources are not always easily identifiable as Shoshone, Bannock, or
Northern Paiute, and a great deal of confusion between the last two is
inherent in their linguistic bond. We shall use the name Bannock in
its most common sense to designate the mounted, buffalo-hunting
Mono-Bannock speakers of Idaho; Northern Paiute refers specifically to
the Mono-Bannock population to the west of the Shoshone. In many
instances we cannot be certain that the Indians encountered by one or
another traveler were permanent residents of the area. Permanency, in
any event, is a rather doubtful attribute of this highly nomadic
people; the term cannot be used except as a designation for the people
who customarily spend the winter in a certain area, and even with this
limitation it must be used with caution.


All of the groups discussed in this chapter except the Bannock speak
the Shoshone-Comanche, or Shoshone, language. While there were only
minor differences of dialect between Shoshone speakers, the Bannock
language was almost identical with Northern Paiute. Informants found
an especially close affinity between Bannock and the language of the
Oregon Paiute, who were frequently referred to as "Bannock" also and
were sometimes distinguished from the Fort Hall Bannock only by the
statement that "they live in Burns" (a town in Oregon). While some
informants referred to the Oregon speakers of Mono-Bannock as
"Paiute," this term was generally reserved for the population of
west-central Nevada, and "Pyramid Lake" was the locale in which the
Idaho Shoshone generally placed the "Paiute." The inhabitants of Duck
Valley Indian Reservation were not so vague; they readily
distinguished between Shoshone and "Paiute" on linguistic and other
grounds. This is understandable because the Shoshone had lived a long
time on the same reservation as the Oregon speakers of Mono-Bannock,
who were officially designated as Paiute. While no vocabularies were
collected on the Fort Hall Reservation among either the Shoshone or
Bannock populations, data from informants on the similarity of Paiute
and Bannock more than confirm Steward's statement (1938, p. 198):

     The linguistic similarity of the Bannock and Northern Paiute
     (see vocabularies, pp. 274-275) leaves no doubt that they once
     formed a single group, though within historic times they have
     been separated by 200 miles.

The vocabularies to which Steward refers were taken from Northern
Paiute at Mill City, a town southwest of Winnemucca, Nevada, and at
George's Creek, in Owens Valley, California. It is probable that
correspondences would have been even closer if vocabularies had been
taken among the Northern Paiute of Oregon, for Fort Hall Bannock
informants specifically stated that their language was more akin to
that of the Oregon Paiute; the Pyramid Lake people were said to "talk
fast" or "talk funny." The frequent designation of the Oregon Paiute
as "Bannock" by both Bannock and Shoshone at Fort Hall Reservation
bespeaks the linguistic similarity or virtual identity of the
languages of the respective groups.

As for Shoshone and Bannock, the two languages were not sufficiently
similar to be mutually intelligible, although there are a great many
cognate words. However, they were not so far removed from one another
as to make bilingualism difficult. There was considerable bilingualism
among the population of the Fort Hall plains.


The following division of the Shoshone-Bannock population of Idaho
into six main groups is admittedly arbitrary, although to a certain
extent the sectors conform to actual sociopolitical groups or to
populations designated by certain characteristics recognized by the
Indians themselves. Proceeding from west to east, these are: (1) the
population of the Boise and Weiser River valleys; (2) the Shoshone
Indians of the middle course of the Snake River between Glenn's Ferry
and Shoshone Falls and in the interior on both sides of the river; (3)
the Shoshone of the Sawtooth Mountains, west of the Lemhi River,
Idaho; (4) the population of Bannock Creek, Idaho, and south therefrom
to Bear River; (5) the Shoshone and Bannock of the Fort Hall plains on
the upper Snake River; and (6) the Shoshone Indians of the Lemhi

It will be seen that the Shoshone population of Idaho was by no means
a unitary one, either socially or culturally. The people of these six
areas were not politically interrelated, nor were the populations of
each area integrated social or political units, although the Fort Hall
and Lemhi River people were more highly organized than those of other
areas. On the contrary, the Indians subsumed under each of the six
divisions primarily consist of people who lived under similar
ecological conditions and dwelt in geographical contiguity. Some
shared roughly the same nomadic pattern and united upon occasion for
diverse reasons. The populations represented by our sixfold division
interacted more frequently for economic, social, and religious
purposes with people within the area than they did with those from
other areas.

Although strong patterns of leadership and a tightly nucleated society
were alien to the Shoshone in general, the Shoshone gave verbal
recognition to the more frequent interaction that existed between
neighboring families or camp groups, especially when such
neighborhoods were geographically discontinuous with other
neighborhoods. Also, differences in food resources and habits of
peoples of certain demarcated ecological provinces apparently
impressed other Shoshone as significant criteria by which the people
of these neighborhoods could be named. This is the only logical
explanation for the common pattern among Northern Paiute and Shoshone
of the Great Basin of food names applied to the people of certain
neighborhoods. Thus we have "Wada Seed Eaters," "Salmon Eaters," etc.
In fact, it was quite common for the populations so designated to call
themselves by these names, although this was not always so. In any
event, it would be erroneous to say that such appellations implied
membership in any social group, whether defined by united political
leadership or by kinship. That individual families subsumed under some
name, usually derived from food habits, tended to act more frequently
together than with more distant neighbors cannot be denied, nor can we
ignore the fact that common environment tended to induce a
common subsistence pattern. That such groups were organized,
territory-holding units cannot be simply assumed without supporting
evidence, and this evidence is lacking. This view is shared by
Steward, who summarizes the political significance of the food names
in the following passage (Steward, 1939, p. 262):

     The emphasis, I think, is clearly upon the territory rather
     than upon any unified group of people occupying it. The extent
     of the people so designated depended upon the extent of the
     geographical feature or food in question. A name might apply to
     a single village, a valley, or a number of valleys. Some Snake
     River Shoshone vaguely called all Nevada Shoshone Pine Nut
     Eaters, the pinyon nut not occurring in Idaho. Furthermore,
     several names might be used for the same people. This system of
     nomenclature served in a crude way to identify people by their
     habitat. Upon moving to new localities, they acquired new

In general, the remarks above apply to our Boise-Weiser, Bannock
Creek, middle Snake River, and Sawtooth Mountains populations and to
the Shoshone of Nevada. The Indians of the Fort Hall plains and the
Lemhi River were somewhat different. Both had horses at a relatively
early period, were involved in frequent wars, and pursued the buffalo.
These factors tended to promote a somewhat different sociopolitical
organization than we find farther west. Band organization, however
fluid and shifting, did exist in the Fort Hall and Lemhi areas.

Finally, it should be remembered that the Indians of our six regions
frequently wandered far from the areas designated. The areas, then,
were centers of gravity in a migratory life. They were areas where
subsistence was commonly obtained by the populations in question and,
more important, where winter, the most sedentary season of the year,
was passed.


The region of the Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers and the near-by
shores of the Snake River are of considerable importance because of
the contiguity of Shoshone and Northern Paiute populations in this
area. We will present the historical data pertinent to an
understanding of the mode and extent of Shoshone ecology there and
will then give the material gathered through recent ethnographic

Our earliest information on this region comes from the Stuart diary of
the Astoria party. Stuart wrote of the Boise River (1935, p. 83):

     ... the most renowned Fishing place in this Country. It is
     consequently the resort of the majority of the Snakes, where
     immense numbers of Salmon are taken.

The Hunt party arrived at the Boise River on November 21, 1811, and
met well-clad and mounted Indians there (ibid., p. 295). One week
later, the party came to Mann's Creek, a tributary of the Weiser
River, and there found "some huts of Chochonis" (p. 296):

     They had just killed two young horses to eat. It is their only
     food except for the seed of a plant which resembles hemp and
     which they pound very fine.

In the mountains between Mann's Creek and the Snake River some dozen
huts of "Chochonies" were encountered (p. 299); the journals use Snake
and "Chochoni" or "Shoshonie" interchangeably.

The 1818-19 journals of Alexander Ross gave considerable
attention to hostilities between the "Snakes" and the Sahaptin
("Shaw-ha-ap-tens")-speaking peoples (Ross, 1924, pp. 171, 210, 214).
Part of this action took place in southwestern Idaho. Ross attempted
to arrange peace between the hostile populations and wrote of a
council held there under the chiefs "Pee-eye-em" and "Ama-qui-em" and
participated in by the "Shirry-dikas," "War-are-ree-kas," and
"Ban-at-tees" (p. 243). The two chiefs, said by Ross to be brothers,
were previously mentioned as the "principal chiefs" of "the great
Snake nation" (p. 238). They belonged to the people called
"Shirry-dika," a buffalo-hunting population, for Ross spoke of the
acquiescence of "Ama-ketsa," a chief of the "War-are-ree-kas"
(fish-eaters, according to Ross), in the maintenance of peace and the
cowing of the "Ban-at-tees" by the two leaders (p. 246). Ross
represents the Shoshone as having a very large population; those at
the peace conference were said to have stretched their camps along
both sides of a stream for a distance of seven miles. The
"Shirry-dikas" are depicted as the most powerful, and the
"War-are-ree-kas," though numerous, are said to lack power and unity.
The "Ban-at-tees, or Mountain Snakes" are described as a fragmented
population, living in the mountain fastnesses and preying upon the
trappers. This seems to characterize the Northern Paiute of Oregon
more accurately than the mounted buffalo-hunting Bannock of
southeastern Idaho.

The journal of John Work in June, 1832, mentioned (Work, 1923, pp.
165-167) "Snake" Indians on the Payette River, immediately below the
mouth of Big Willow Creek; on Little Willow Creek; on the Weiser
River; and on the east bank of the Snake River, between the mouths of
the Payette and the Weiser. Work used the term Snake in a broad sense
and we cannot identify this population as Shoshone with certainty. The
Indians had horses, and may thus have been a buffalo-hunting group
that had traveled west for salmon. Nathaniel Wyeth entered one of the
western Idaho valleys in October of the same year and observed
"extensive camps of Indians about one month old. Here they find salmon
in a creek running through it and dig the Kamas root but not an Indian
was here at this time" (Wyeth, 1899, p. 172). Wyeth was on the Boise
River in August, 1834, and encountered "a small village of Snakes."
His party proceeded on to the Snake River where they found "a few
lodges of very impudent Pawnacks" (p. 229). "Bannock" Indians were
also encountered on the Boise River in 1833 by Bonneville's party
(Irving, 1837, 2:38) and in the following year his journals noted that
"formidable bands of the Banneck Indians were lying on the Boisée and
Payette Rivers" (p. 194). The Bannock, or the Indians so termed by our
sources, evidently lived near the confluence of these streams with the
Snake River, for John Townsend, a young naturalist who joined Wyeth's
party, reported several groups of about twenty Indians fishing in the
Boise River each of which identified itself as Shoshone (Townsend,
1905, pp. 206-207). Farther down the Boise River the party "came to a
village consisting of thirty willow lodges of the Pawnees (Bannocks)"
(p. 210). The Shoshone and the Mono-Bannock speakers did not maintain
complete separateness, however, for Townsend wrote (1905, p. 266) that
the party met some ten lodges of "Snakes and Bannecks" on the west
side of the Snake River, near Burnt River.

The identity of the above-mentioned Bannock is somewhat doubtful.
Farnham met a number of Shoshone Indians engaged in fishing the Boise
River in September, 1839 (Farnham, 1843, pp. 75-76). Some thirty
traveling miles downstream from Boise, however, he noted in apparent
contradiction of Townsend, that there were no more "Shoshonie," for
"they dare not pass the boundary line between themselves and the
Bonacks." The Bannock are described as a "fierce, warlike, and
athletic tribe inhabiting that part of Saptin or Snake River which
lies between the mouth of Boisais or Reed's River and the Blue
Mountains." The question arises whether the Bannock mentioned in the
sources were the buffalo-hunting Mono-Bannock speakers who regularly
inhabited the upper Snake River or whether they followed the fishing
and seed-collecting pattern of the Mono-Bannock speakers of Oregon.
Townsend's report of their use of willow lodges suggests that they
were Mono-Bannock, but Farnham observed that the Bannock found on the
Snake River made war on the Crow and Blackfoot (p. 76). This would
definitely suggest life during part of the year in southeastern Idaho
and, also, the pursuit of the buffalo. Later historical data and the
testimony of contemporary informants suggest that both the Oregon and
eastern Idaho populations of Mono-Bannock speakers fished on the Snake
River and in the lower reaches of the Boise and Weiser rivers. There
was no clear boundary between the Shoshone and the Oregon people
termed Northern Paiute, and the mounted buffalo-hunting Bannock also
visited western Idaho to fish for salmon. It is thus doubtful whether
the ambiguities of the historical sources will ever be resolved.

The subsequent historical references to the native population of this
region cover the outbreak of hostilities against the white emigrants
on the Oregon Trail and the subsequent attempts to establish peace
with the Indians and place them on reservations. In 1862 Special
Indian Agent Kirkpatrick surveyed the southwestern Idaho Indians and
reported: "The Winnas band of Snakes inhabit the country north of
Snake river, and are found principally on the Bayette, Boise and
Sickley Rivers" (Kirkpatrick, 1863, p. 412). He reported them as
warlike and numbering some 700 to 800 people. Kirkpatrick's "Winnas
band" probably corresponds to the designation of the "Wihinasht" in
the Handbook of American Indians; these are said to be "a division of
Shoshoni, formerly in western Idaho, north of Snake River and in the
vicinity of Boise City" (Hodge, 1910, 2:951). During our field work,
we found that the term "Wihinait" was often applied generically to the
Shoshone population of Fort Hall Reservation.

In later years, other bands are reported in southwestern Idaho.
Governor Caleb Lyon made a treaty with "San-to-me-co and the headmen
of the Boise Shoshonees" on October 10, 1864 (Lyon, 1866, p. 418) and
in the following year placed some 115 "Boise Shoshone" at Fort Boise
(Lyon, 1867, p. 187). Special Indian Agent Hough mentioned Boise,
Bruneau, and Kammas bands of Shoshone in 1866 and commented: "The
Bruneau and Boise are so intermarried that they are in fact all one
people and are closely connected by blood, visiting each other as
frequently as they dare pass over the country" (Hough, 1867, p. 189).
Governor Ballard, in the same year, reported that the "Boise
Shoshones" numbered 200; insecurity due to Indian-white hostilities
kept them from camas-root digging during the summer (Ballard, 1867, p.
190). In 1867 many Shoshone of the Boise and Bruneau rivers and a
group of Bannock were placed temporarily on the Boise River, some
thirty miles upstream from Boise (Powell, 1868, p. 252). The Bannock
were said to have been under the leadership of a chief named "Bannock
John"; the report, dated July 31, 1867, also mentioned that these
Bannock engaged in salmon fishing in the Boise River and camas
collection on Camas Prairie during the summer, but intended to go east
for the buffalo hunt in the fall. That the above Bannock were mounted
buffalo hunters rather than Oregon Paiute seems manifest from this
statement. This was not the only Bannock band, however, for on July
15, 1867, Agent Mann of Fort Bridger, Wyoming, reported a conversation
with "Tahjee, the chief of the Bannacks" in which he learned that
"there does exist a very large band of Bannacks, numbering more than
100 lodges" (Mann, 1868, p. 189). Mann stated that 50 lodges of these
Indians were present that year. This and other references to the
diverse, but simultaneous, locations of the Bannock suggest that they
were not a unitary political entity.

References to the Bannock and to the Shoshone on the Boise and Bruneau
rivers continue during the next two years. Powell gave their numbers
in 1868 as 100, 283, and 300, respectively, and stated (C. F. Powell,
1869, p. 662):

     ... [the Bannock] remained under my charge for several months,
     when they were permitted to go on their regular buffalo hunt,
     their country ranging through eastern Idaho and Montana. When
     through their hunt they return to the Boise and Bruneau camp;
     they and the Boise and Bruneau are on the best of terms, all
     being more or less intermarried.

Ballard reported that on August 26, 1867, a treaty was signed by
Tygee, Peter, To-so-copy-natey, Pah Vissigin, McKay, and Jim, in which
the Bannock agreed to settle on Fort Hall (Ballard, 1869, p. 658); the
Bannock and also the Bruneau and Boise Shoshone were removed from the
Boise Valley on December 2, 1868, and brought to Fort Hall (C. F.
Powell, 1870, p. 728). They were joined there by 500 Bannock under
Tygee, who had just returned from a joint buffalo hunt with the
Eastern Shoshone in Wind River Valley (p. 729). Indian Agent Danilson
of Fort Hall wrote that in 1869 there were 600 Bannock, 200 Boise
Shoshone, 100 Bruneau Shoshone, and 200 Western Shoshone on the
reservation (Danilson, 1870, p. 729). The beginning of the reservation
period marks the effective end of the independent occupancy of the
Idaho area by the Shoshone and Bannock. The rest of this section deals
with ethnographic data. In regard to extent of Shoshone settlement,
Omer Stewart has reported that eastern Oregon, about the mouths of the
Malheur and Owyhee rivers, and southwest Idaho as far east as a line
well past Boise, were the territory of a Northern Paiute band called
the Koa'agaitoka (Stewart, 1939, p. 133). Blythe places a Northern
Paiute band called "Yapa Eaters" in the Boise River Valley (Blythe,
1938, p. 396) and mentions data given by one informant to the effect
that a mixed band of Paiute and Shoshone called "People Eaters" lived
to the north of the Yapa Eaters (p. 404). Neither historical research
nor ethnographic investigation among the Shoshone confirms the
existence of such bands in the area described. On the contrary,
Steward writes (1938, p. 172):

     Shoshone seem to have extended westward about to the Snake
     River which forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon. They
     also occupied the Boise River Valley and probably to some
     extent the valleys of the Payette and Weiser Rivers. They
     probably never penetrated Oregon beyond the Blue Mountains.

But the area nearer the Snake River was not occupied exclusively by
Shoshone, for Steward continues (ibid.):

     This population was neither well defined politically nor
     territorially. It was scattered in small independent villages
     of varying prosperity and tribal composition. Along the lower
     Snake, Boise, and Payette Rivers Shoshone were intermixed with
     Northern Paiute who extended westward through the greater
     portion of southern and eastern Oregon. Slightly to the north
     they were probably mixed somewhat with their Nez Percé

Our own field work, as presented below, tends to confirm Steward's
data on most points and is in accord with historical information.

Although there were salmon-yielding streams in Oregon, the Boise and
Weiser rivers were richer in these fish, and salmon could be caught on
the Boise River upstream to its headwaters. During the spring and fall
salmon runs, many Northern Paiute evidently crossed the Snake River
and fished in the Boise and Weiser. Relations seem to have been
friendly, and there was considerable intermarriage. Many Paiute
evidently wintered in this area and could therefore be said to be as
regular residents as the Shoshone. They maintained separate winter
villages and tended to remain along the downstream stretches of the
Boise and Weiser rivers. Informants disagreed on the extent of this
interpenetration. Some characterized the population, especially of the
Weiser Valley, as "mixed," while others said that only a very few
Northern Paiute remained through the winter. More reliable and older
informants characterized the population as mostly Shoshone. One old
woman, a present resident of Duck Valley Reservation, identified
herself as a Northern Paiute from the Weiser country. Her
conversation, however, immediately revealed that she was actually
speaking in the Shoshone language and that this was her first
language. This attempted deception is partially explained by the
somewhat greater prestige enjoyed by the Northern Paiute on that

As has been mentioned, the composition of the population of this
region is further confused by the fact that some camp groups of
Bannock passed by the more commonly used fishing sites below Shoshone
Falls and fished on the Boise and Weiser rivers. An added inducement
to the Bannock was the possibility of trade with the Nez Percé Indians
in the upper valley of the Weiser River. The Bannock did not stay long
in the area, however, and never wintered there.

The Boise-Weiser country is relatively rich. The streams gave a good
yield of fish, roots abounded in the valleys, and game was found in
the near-by mountains. The floors of the valleys are well below 3,000
feet, and winters are comparatively mild. Although the Shoshone
residents of the area wandered far on occasion, a full subsistence
could be obtained within the immediate area. Stretches of mountainous
and barren lands tended to mark off this population from other
Shoshone to the east. The testimony of informants is somewhat
contradictory to Steward's statement (1938, p. 172) that the
Boise-Weiser Shoshone "imperceptibly merged with the Agaidüka of the
Snake River and the Tukadüka of the mountains to the north." It is
true that there were no concepts of territorial boundaries and that
the above-mentioned populations interacted, interchanged, and
interpenetrated, but the locus of movement of each of the above three
populations, especially their wintering places, did differ.

While Steward reports that the rubric "Yahandüka," or "Groundhog
Eaters," was applied to the residents of the Boise-Weiser areas, we
were unable to obtain this name. Yahandika was variously reported by
Fort Hall informants as referring to a district in Nevada; by others
as applied to certain Oregon Northern Paiute. Another informant said
that it was an alternate term for the Shoshone of the middle Snake
River, who are more generally called "Summer Salmon Eaters." The
latter, stated this informant, had very close relations with the Boise
population. All of the informants were probably right in a sense; only
the uncertainty of these appellations is indicated.

Steward obtained "Su:woki" as the name of the Boise-Weiser country. My
informants applied this name to the people of the region also, who
were called "Söhuwawki," or "Row of Willows." The place name had
evidently been transferred to the people or, more accurately, the
place name was applied to whatever people used the locale. The name
was especially used to denote the people and country of the Weiser
River, although one informant thought the name covered the Boise
people also. Another name given to the Weiser Shoshone was
"Woviagaidika," or "Driftwood Salmon Eaters." This name is derived
from the salmon's habit of lying under the driftwood in small streams.
Only one informant reported a name for the dwellers of the Boise
Valley, "Pa avi."

Informants sometimes spoke of the Boise-Weiser Shoshone as being "just
one bunch." Certainly the populations of this section of Idaho merged,
shifted, and interacted to such an extent that it would be difficult
to distinguish them, although "one bunch," two chiefs, Captain Jim and
Eagle Eye, were reported for the area. The former was said to be
chief of those who usually wintered in the vicinity of Boise; the
latter was chief of the winter residents of the Weiser valley. No
clear delineation of the functions of these chiefs could be obtained.

The actual nature of Boise-Weiser Shoshone society can be understood
better from their subsistence patterns. Winter was spent in small
camps scattered along the valleys of the streams. There was little
danger from hostile intruders, and camp grounds were not the larger
population nuclei that we find in the Fort Hall area. Favorite winter
camp sites were at the present site of the city of Boise, near
present-day Emmett on the Payette River, and on the lower Weiser
River, near the mouth of Crane Creek. Some families were said to have
wintered on both sides of the near-by Snake River. While it was common
for the same families to form winter camp groups, there was
considerable shifting and changing each year, dictated by personal
preference. Also, it was not necessary for the camps to spend every
winter in the same place, and changes occurred constantly.

Winter was spent by their caches of roots and salmon; the dried and
jerked game meat was said to have been kept in the lodge. The common
type of winter dwelling was a sort of tipi made of rye grass. Stored
food supplied the main subsistence during the winter, but sagehens,
blue grouse, and snowshoe rabbits were also taken. Antelope were
chased on horses (probably by the surround method), and deer
frequently came down from the mountains and were killed while
floundering in deep snow.

Springtime brought no extensive migrations. Some roots were available
in the area, but the chief source of springtime subsistence was the
salmon run, which began in approximately March or April. A second run
followed immediately upon the first and continued until the end of
spring. Fish traps were made on the Payette River, in the vicinity of
Long Valley, and on the lower Weiser River. Salmon were also taken in
the Boise River. According to informants, the people of this area did
not resort to the great salmon fisheries in the vicinity of Glenn's
Ferry and upstream to Shoshone Falls. The abundance of fish in local
waters made this unnecessary. Although the population divided and went
to various fishing sites, the salmon runs were periods during which
stable residence in small villages was possible.

At the end of spring and in early summer, many of the Indians of the
Boise-Weiser country traveled to Camas Prairie, where roots of various
kinds were dug. These people stayed there through part of the summer,
and during this time roots were collected and dried. This was also a
time of dances and festivities, for a large part of the Shoshone and
Bannock population of Idaho, plus a sprinkling of the Nez Percé and
Flathead, resorted at the same time to these root grounds. These were
probably the largest gatherings of people among all the Shoshone.
There was no large, single encampment, but families and camp groups
were in such close contiguity that social interaction was intense.

At the conclusion of the root-collecting season at Camas Prairie, the
inhabitants of the Boise and Weiser region wandered back to their
customary area and set out upon their late summer and fall activities.
Fish were taken during the fall run and dried for winter provisions,
but the chief activity was hunting. Both hunting and fishing could be
pursued at the same time in the upper waters of the Boise and Payette
rivers, although salmon did not ascend far up the Weiser. Hunting was
done by small camp groups of 3 to 4 lodges, and the population
scattered throughout the mountain country surrounding the river
valleys. The principal game taken was deer, elk, bear, and some
bighorn sheep. None required the collective efforts of a large number
of men, and all were found throughout the mountain area. The small
camp group was, therefore, the most effective social unit for the fall
hunt, as it was for the summer wanderings of the Wyoming Shoshone.

The hunters ranged up the Boise and Payette valleys into the Sawtooth
Mountains as far as the beginnings of the Salmon River watershed.
Though the Salmon River country was entered, the hunting parties did
not penetrate very far. A favored hunting territory was in the Stanley
Basin, at the headwaters of the Salmon River and in the vicinity of
the present-day village of Stanley. The kill of game was dried in the
mountains and packed down to the winter quarters in the valleys of the
Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers.

In general, it is difficult to define the social organization of the
Boise-Weiser Shoshone. While Shoshone social organization is
characteristically amorphous, some groups developed a closer
integration owing to such factors as warfare and collective economic
activities, which demanded leadership. But warfare was rare in this
region, and hunting and root-and berry-collecting were essentially
carried on by families. The building and operation of fish traps and
the distribution of the catch undoubtedly called forth some leadership
functions, but not on the band level. Also, the presence of other
groups which fished the same streams during the appropriate seasons
seems to argue against the consolidation of either the Boise or Weiser
people into territorially delimited bands. It was impossible to elicit
exact information from informants on the functions of leaders, and it
can only be inferred that they probably served as intermediaries with
the whites or were simply local men enjoying some prestige as dance
directors or leaders of winter villages.

The Shoshone of this area were poorer in horses than the buffalo
hunters, but they did possess some. The valleys of the Boise, Payette,
and Weiser evidently afforded adequate grazing for small herds, and
the natives enjoyed a greater mobility than did their neighbors to the
northeast and southeast. The resulting ease of communication would
perhaps be conducive to band organization, but neither living
informants nor historical sources offer any confirmation of this. That
such sociopolitical groups did exist is suggested by mention of
chiefs, but the groups did not have clearly defined territories which
excluded other peoples, and they could only have been most loosely


This area includes all of Idaho south of the Sawtooth Mountains
between American Falls and the Bruneau River. It has been seen that
the area of the Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers was entered
regularly by populations that did not customarily winter there; this
is true also of the area of the middle Snake, and to a much greater
degree. First, the salmon run did not extend above Shoshone Falls, and
the population living upstream from that point resorted regularly to
favored fishing places below the Falls. Second, the prairies about the
locale of present-day Fairfield, Idaho, were the richest camas-root
grounds in this section of the Basin-Plateau area and large numbers of
Indians convened every summer to gather the roots. Historical sources
testify to the numbers of Indians found in the area during certain
times of the year, but it is usually impossible to determine the
geographical locus of these people during the remainder of the year.

Travelers observed small, impoverished groups of Indians and also
larger camps of mounted people. Near Glenn's Ferry, Idaho, Stuart on
August 23, 1812, noted (1935, p. 108):

     ... a few Shoshonie (or Snake) Camps were passed today, who
     have to struggle hard for a livelihood, even though it is the
     prime of the fishing season in the Country.

Stuart encountered some 100 lodges of Shoshone fishing at Salmon Falls
(p. 109). In 1826 Peter Skene Ogden met a camp of 200 "Snakes" bearing
60 firearms and a quantity of ammunition at Raft River, above the
limit of the salmon run (Ogden, 1909, p. 357). In October of the
following year he visited Camas Prairie, the camas grounds in the
vicinity of Fairfield, and noted a pattern of movement that is still
reported by informants (p. 263):

     It is from near this point the Snakes form into a body prior to
     their starting point for buffalo; they collect camasse for the
     journey across the mountains. Their camp is 300 tents. In
     Spring they scattered from this place for the salmon and horse
     thieving expeditions.

Buffalo were formerly found on the plains of the upper Snake River,
but American Falls was apparently their approximate western limit.
Wyeth was at American Falls in August, 1832, and wrote (1899, p. 163):

     We found here plenty of Buffaloe sign and the Pawnacks come
     here to winter often on account of the Buffaloe we now find no

The Wyeth party then turned up the Raft River where they "met a
village of the Snakes of about 150 persons having about 75 horses" and
farther upstream found "the banks lined with Diggers Camps and Trails
but they are shy and can seldom be spoken." On Rock Creek, the party
met some 120 Indians who evidently had fresh salmon, and farther on
their journey on this stream they found "Diggers," "Sohonees," and
"Pawnacks" (ibid., pp. 166-168). A chief and some sub-chiefs were
mentioned at one of these camps. Small and scattered camps of Indians
were mentioned throughout Wyeth's journeys on the southern tributaries
of the Snake River.

Fewer Indians were encountered in the salmon-yielding sections of the
Snake River during the winter. Bonneville's party met only footgoing
Indians near Salmon Falls in the winter of 1834; the Indians lived in
a scattered fashion and groups of no more than three or four grass
huts were found (Irving, 1873, p. 300), although large numbers of
Indians were seen in the same area during the salmon season (p. 444).
Crawford met numbers of Indians along the Oregon Trail in southern
Idaho in August, 1842 (Crawford, 1897, pp. 15-17) and in October of
the following year Talbot observed of Indians near Shoshone Falls
(1931, p. 53):

     These Indians speak the same language as the Snakes but are far
     poorer and are distinguished by the name of Shoshoccos,
     "Diggers," or "Uprooters." They have very few, and indeed most
     of them, have no horses....

Near Glenn's Ferry, however, Talbot met a large number of Indians of
the "Waptico band of the Shoshonees," who had many horses (ibid., p.
55). Talbot drew the following conclusion from his experience on the
Snake River (p. 56):

     It seems that there is a monopoly of the fisheries on the Snake
     River. The Banak Indians who are the most powerful, hold them
     in the spring when the salmon and other fishes are in best
     condition--later on different tribes of Shoshonees hord the
     monopoly. Last, and of course weakest of all, the miserable
     creatures such as are with us now, come, like gleaners after
     the harvest, to gather up the leavings of their richer and more
     powerful brethren.

Other sources contradict Talbot's observations, however, and give a
picture of simultaneous use of the abundant salmon run by people of
diverse locality and condition. But it is possible that mounted and
more powerful people occupied the choicest sites.

During the late 1850's, the hostilities that broke out throughout Utah
and Idaho also affected the Snake River. Wallen reported Indians
peacefully fishing at Shoshone Falls in 1859, but commented that the
Bannock upstream were well armed and formidable (Wallen, 1859, pp.
220, 223). In the same year. Will Wagner met on Goose Creek "several
men of the band under the chief Ne-met-tek" (Wagner, 1861, p. 25) and
encountered both Shoshone and Bannock in the high country between the
Humboldt and Snake rivers (p. 26). Not all the Indians met exhibited
hostile intentions in 1859 or in 1862 and 1863, when punitive forces
were sent against the hostiles. Colonel Maury noted that "those
perhaps who are more hostile are near Salmon Falls, or on the south
side of Snake River" (War of the Rebellion, 1902, p. 217). Actually
the hostiles were raiding along the Oregon Trail south of the Snake
River, and it is probable that many of the peaceful Indians
encountered also indulged in occasional attacks when in the
neighborhood of the whites. Seventeen lodges and about 200 Indians
were found near Shoshone Falls in August, 1863; these people reported
that "the bad Indians are all gone to the buffalo country" (ibid, p.

Further information from the military forces indicates a continuation
of the older nomadic patterns. Colonel Maury said of Camas Prairie
(ibid., p. 226):

     All the Indians living northwest of Salt Lake visit the grounds
     in the spring and summer, putting up their winter supply of
     camas, and after the root season is over, resort to the falls
     and other points on the Snake to put up fish.

In October, 1863, after the mounted people had left the fishing sites,
Colonel Maury reported on the population along the Snake River (ibid.,
p. 224):

     They live a family in a place, on either side of the river for
     a distance of thirty or forty miles; have no arms and a very
     small number of Indian ponies; not an average of one to each
     family.... There are from 80 to 100 of this party, all
     Shoshones, and, aware of the treaties made at Salt Lake,
     scattered along the river from the great falls to the mouth of
     this stream [the Bruneau River], a distance of 100 miles.

A party of 20 Indians was attacked by the military on the Bruneau
River and there were signs in the upper part of the valley of a large
force. Maury commented: "All the roaming Indians of the country visit
the Bruneau River more or less." Further evidence of the mobility of
the population is given in the report of attacks in the vicinity of
Salmon Falls Creek by Indians from the Owyhee River under a medicine
man named Ebigon (ibid., p. 388).

With the cessation of hostilities, most of the Shoshone and Bannock of
Idaho were rapidly rounded up by the military and a few years later
were settled at Fort Hall. Governor Lyon reported visiting the "great
Kammas Prairie tribe of Indians" in 1865 (Lyon, 1867, p. 418), and
Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cooley described the latter's territory
as the "area around Fort Hall and the northern part of Utah" (Cooley,
1866, p. 198). Evidently the Indians who congregated annually at Camas
Prairie were mistaken as a single tribe, and there is little further
reference to such a group.

While it is almost impossible to identify Indians in the southwest
Idaho region, west of the Bruneau River, Ballard's 1866 report of a
mixed Paiute and Shoshone population probably represents the real
situation (1867, p. 190).

     The southwest portion of Idaho, including the Owyhee country
     and the regions of the Malheur, are infested with a roving band
     of hostile Pi-utes and outlawed Shoshones, numbering, from the
     best information, some 300 warriors.

The reports of Indian Agents already cited in the section on the Boise
River region indicate that the Bruneau River population was Shoshone.
Their numbers are given as 400 in 1866 (ibid.) and 300 in 1868, after
they had been brought to the Boise River (C. F. Powell, 1869, p. 661).

The frequent mention of a band of Bruneau Shoshone in the later
reports of the Indian agents is somewhat misleading. Information from
contemporary informants indicates that there was no distinct and
separate population of the Bruneau River, as opposed to near-by
stretches of the Snake River. Furthermore, the fisheries of the
Bruneau River were often used by mounted Indians from the Fort Hall

There were no boundaries, as such, in southwest Idaho. Stewart's
Tagotoka band of Northern Paiute is represented as occupying most of
southwestern Idaho (Stewart, 1939, map 1, facing p. 127), while
Blythe's equivalent "Tagu Eaters" are placed in the Owyhee River
Valley (Blythe, 1938, p. 404). Blythe notes that east of this
population there were "no pure Paiute bands." Steward's map places the
limit between the Paiute and the Shoshone about equidistant between
the Owyhee and Bruneau Rivers (Steward, 1938, fig. 1, facing p. ix).
There was no hard and fast line between Shoshone and Paiute, and the
high country south of Snake River was usually entered only in the
summer when hunting parties of either linguistic group wandered
through southwest Idaho. Further information the pattern of
occupation of the Snake River and southwestern Idaho is given in the
following ethnographic material.

Despite the extent of the region in question, there were not many
permanent, or winter-dwelling, inhabitants. Greater use was made of
the natural products of this region by the more numerous Shoshone and
Bannock, who wintered elsewhere, than by the small local population.
The two chief resources were the extremely rich root grounds at Camas
Prairie, in the vicinity of Fairfield, Idaho, and the fishing sites
scattered between Glenn's Ferry and Shoshone Falls. Camas Prairie was
used by the Bannock and, to varying degrees, by all the Shoshone of
Idaho, as well as occasionally by other tribes, like the Flathead and
the Nez Percé; the fisheries were used by the Bannock and all the
Shoshone of the upper Snake River above Shoshone Falls, the limit of
the salmon run.

Some large stretches of territory were used very little, if at all. We
were unable to obtain information on use or occupancy of the country
north of the Snake River and south of the Sawtooths between Camas
Prairie and Idaho Falls. This is extremely arid and infertile country,
strewn with lava beds and containing little water. It was often
traversed, but little subsistence was drawn from it. Also, scanty
information was available on the territory west of the Bruneau River.
One informant said that Silver City, Idaho, was within the limits of
Paiute territory; according to other informants, the Bruneau River
Valley was definitely within the Shoshone migratory range. It seems
evident that southwest Idaho was not much used by either the Paiute or
Shoshone, and, while both groups entered the area on occasion,
boundaries could hardly have been narrowly defined.

The population which wintered in the general area of the middle Snake
River and drew year-round subsistence from the resources of the region
was usually referred to by the term Taza agaidika, or "Summer Salmon
Eaters." Other terms used were Yahandika, or "Groundhog Eaters," and
Pia agaidika, or "Big Salmon Eaters." Steward reports the use of the
terms Agaidüka and Yahandüka for the area (Steward, 1938, p. 165). One
informant said that these were alternate terms which, however, did not
change with the season or activities of the people designated. Lowie's
Kuembedüka (Lowie, 1909, pp. 206-208) were not reported by our
informants. Apparently, the names covered any and all people who
wintered in the region and who were more or less permanent residents.
The population included in these terms did not form a social or
political group, nor did they unite for any collective purposes.

The Shoshone of the middle Snake River resemble the Nevada Shoshone in
social, political, and economic characteristics more than does any
other part of the Idaho population, and Steward lists them with the
Western Shoshone for this reason. They had few horses and took no part
in the buffalo-hunting activities of their neighbors of the Fort Hall
plains, and warfare was virtually nonexistent. Property in natural
resources was absent, and other Shoshone and the Bannock availed
themselves freely of the fishing sites on the Snake River without
interference or resentment on the part of the local population.

While chiefs are reported from most parts of Idaho, we were unable to
obtain the name of a leader from the middle Snake River. Not only were
there no band chiefs, but the winter villages lacked headmen. The
principal informant for the area merely commented that everybody was

Especially pronounced among the Shoshone of this area is the practice
of splitting into a number of scattered and very small winter camps.
Among the winter camps were: Akongdimudza, a camp at King Hill, Idaho,
named for a hill which abounded in sunflowers; Biësoniogwe, a winter
camp near Glenn's Ferry; Koa agai, near the hamlet of Hot Spring,
Idaho, on the Bruneau River; and Paguiyua, a camp on Clover Creek near
a hot spring, immediately up the Snake River from the town of Bliss,

Winter camps were commonly located on the Snake River bottoms, where
there was wood and shelter. The camps consisted of two or three
lodges, each of which housed a family and a few relatives. The list of
winter camps above is by no means complete; Steward gives three, two
of which were below the town of Hagerman, a third near Bliss (Steward,
1938, pp. 165-166). There were undoubtedly several more, but it should
be remembered that the place names above referred to sites which were
not necessarily inhabited every winter.

The composition of the winter camps varied. While it was common for
kinsmen to camp together, they by no means always did so. Also, the
same people did not camp together every winter. Each family head
decided each year where to spend the winter, and families were free to
shift from one site to another annually. Steward's data confirm this
practice (ibid., p. 169):

     ... it is apparent that the true political unit was the
     village, a small and probably unstable group. Virtually the
     only factor besides intervillage marriage that allied several
     villages was dancing. Dances, however, were so infrequent and
     the participants so variable that they produced no real unity
     in any group.

The Shoshone of the middle Snake River relied heavily on the salmon
runs for food and fished during spring, summer, and fall. One fish
weir, maintained on the Bruneau River, was frequently visited by Fort
Hall Bannock, with whom the catch was shared. Glenn's Ferry was one of
the better fishing sites; the waters between the three islands in the
Snake River at this point were shallow enough for weirs to be used.
Immediately above Hagerman, on the Snake River, the Indians caught
salmon by spearing, although the water was too deep for weirs.
Basketry traps were used in small creeks.

The Shoshone of this area took part in root gathering and festivities
every summer on Camas Prairie. During the fall, deer were taken on
Camas Prairie and in the country immediately south of the Snake River.
Deer and elk were taken in the fall in the mountain country north of
Hailey, and bighorn sheep were also pursued in the mountainous crags
of this area.

In the great expanse of territory between Shoshone Falls and Bannock
Creek only one small group is reported. These people were referred to
as Paraguitsi, a word denoting the budding willow tree, and were said
to inhabit Goose Creek and vicinity. Goose Creek is above the limit of
the salmon run and only trout could be caught in its waters. Whether
they fished below Shoshone Falls is uncertain. The area of the Goose
Creek Mountains was entered also by people who wintered in other
sections and was a frequent resort of Idaho and Nevada Shoshone in
search of pine nuts.

Informants agreed that the Paraguitsi were a wild and timid people who
remained isolated in the fastnesses of Goose Creek and the Goose Creek
Mountains. This range provided them with deer and pine nuts, but their
economy was meager and they were reported to resort to cannibalism in
the winter. Other Shoshone avoided them because of this abhorrent

One informant reported a category of "Mountain Dwellers," or
Toyarivia. This was evidently a generic term for mountaineers as
opposed to those who dwell in valleys, or Yewawgone. The Mountain
Dwellers customarily spent the winter on the Snake River bottoms in
the same area as the people generally called Taza agaidika. They
joined in the salmon fishing at Glenn's Ferry and above, but hunted in
the highlands on the Idaho-Nevada border during the fall. This
division of mountain and valley people seems thus to have been
occasionally used to distinguish Shoshone who hunted south of the
Snake River from those who roamed to the north.


All informants agreed that the Sawtooth Mountains west of the Lemhi
River and south of the Salmon River were inhabited by a Shoshone
population designated as Tukurika (Dukarika and other variants). No
Tukurika, or "Sheepeater," informants were interviewed on the Fort
Hall Reservation, and we obtained only fragmentary information from
Lemhi Shoshone and other Idaho Shoshone and Bannock.

Historical information on the Sheepeaters is scanty and mostly
concerned with later periods. The earliest reference available comes
from Ferris' journals. The Ferris party was in the Sawtooth Mountains,
probably in or near Stanley Basin, in July, 1831. Ferris wrote (1940,
p. 99):

     Here we found a party of "Root Diggers," or Snake Indians
     without horses. They subsist upon the flesh of elk, deer and
     bighorns, and upon salmon which ascend to the fountain sources
     of this river, and are here taken in great numbers.... We found
     them extremely anxious to exchange salmon for buffalo meat, of
     which they are very fond, and which they never procure in this
     country, unless by purchase from their friends who occasionally
     come from the plains to trade with them.

The Stanley Basin region, it will be remembered, was a fall hunting
range of the Shoshone of Boise River and was probably entered by
others from Snake River. But as this was salmon season on both the
Boise and Snake rivers, it is probable that Indians mentioned by
Ferris were part of the more permanent population of the Sawtooths,
i.e., Sheepeaters. The southern Sawtooths were no doubt utilized, like
so many of our other areas, by people who customarily wintered in
diverse places.

In June, 1832, John Work met "a party of Snakes consisting of three
men and three women" near Meadow Creek on the Salmon River waters
(Work, 1923, p. 160). Later references to the Sheepeaters indicate
that they impinged upon the Shoshone of the Boise River on the west
and the Lemhi on the east. Indian Agent Hough reported from the Boise
River in 1868: "The Sheep Eaters have also behaved quite well; they
are more isolated from the settlement, occupy a more sterile country,
and are exceedingly poor" (Hough, 1869, p. 660). The Sheepeaters seem
to have had their closest affiliations with the Shoshone of the Lemhi
River, however, and they eventually moved to the agency founded there
(Viall, 1872, p. 831; Shanks et al., 1874, p. 2).

The Tukurika were not a single group, but consisted of scattered
little hunting groups having no over-all political unity or internal
band organization. They had few horses and hunted mountain sheep and
deer on foot. Salmon were taken in the waters of the Salmon River. The
Tukurika had their closest contacts with the Lemhi Shoshone, although
some occasionally visited the valleys of the Boise and Weiser rivers.
I have no evidence of Tukurika trips to Camas Prairie for roots,
although such visits are indicated by Steward's map (Steward, 1938, p.

Steward lists five winter villages in the Sawtooth Mountains (ibid.,
pp. 188-189). These are:

1. Pasasigwana: This is the largest of the winter villages. It
consisted of thirty families under the leadership of a headman who
acted as director of salmon-fishing activities on the Salmon River. In
the summer, the thirty families split into small groups and hunted on
the Salmon River and its East Fork and in the Lost River and Salmon
ranges. Steward reports that they obtained horses during a trip to
Camas Prairie and thereafter joined the buffalo hunt. The village was
situated north of Clayton.

2. Sohodai: Steward places this small village of six families on the
upper reaches of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

3. Bohodai: This, the second largest Tukurika village, was on the
Middle Fork of the Salmon near its confluence with the Salmon.

4. Another winter village was on the upper Salmon River and was merely
an alternate camp for people who ordinarily wintered in Sohodai.

5. Pasimadai: This village, consisting of only two families, was on
the upper Salmon River. It is the only one of the five listed that had
no headman, although in another context Steward says (p. 193) that
formal village chiefs were lacking before the consolidation with the
Lemhi people.

The distribution of the Shoshone of the Sawtooth Mountains demarcates
the northern limits of the Shoshone range. Steward's map of villages
and subsistence areas in Idaho places the Shoshone on the Salmon River
and the Middle Fork of the Salmon, while the lower parts of the Salmon
River, below its junction with the South Fork, are assigned to the Nez
Percé (p. 136). In his general map of the Basin-Plateau area (ibid.,
fig. 1, facing p. ix), Steward extends the Shoshone zone to the east
side of Lost Trail Pass in Montana.

The data above represent substantial agreement with our own findings.
Moving from west to east, the Snake River north of its junction with
the Powder River (Oregon) is in precipitous canyon country and was no
doubt little used. Mixed Shoshone and Mono-Bannock-speaking groups
occupied the lower part of the Weiser River, but, as has been here
stated, traded with the Nez Percé in the upper part of the valley.
Some of the action of the Sheepeaters' War of 1878 took place in the
mountains between the middle and south forks of the Salmon River, and
there is no evidence of Shoshone use of the country north of the
Salmon River. However, other groups apparently reached the Salmon
River and its southern tributaries. Ferris met a village of Nez Percé
on the Lemhi River in October, 1831 (Ferris, 1940, p. 120), and Wyeth
reported a Nez Percé camp on the Salmon River in May 1833 (Wyeth,
1899, p. 194). The Nez Percé were also reported camped on Salmon River
waters only one day from Fort Hall in August, 1839 (Farnham, 1906, p.
29). In the northeast corner of the area in question, Lewis and Clark
first met the Flathead on the far side of Lost Trail Pass near
present-day Sula, Montana, in August, 1805 (Lewis and Clark, 1904-06,
3:52). Shoshone no doubt crossed the pass occasionally and hunted
there also, but this encounter and those reported in the preceding
references indicate that the northern region of Shoshone nomadic
activities was an area frequently entered and used by other peoples.
Again, there is no strict boundary, but a zone of interpenetration.


There is little historic information on the specific area of Bannock
Creek, Idaho. Almost all references to those Shoshone who were later
found to have ranged through the area during part of the year is under
the heading of Pocatello's band. This band was a hostile group under
Chief Pocatello that raided white settlers and emigrants in the late
1850's and early 1860's. Pocatello's followers were mentioned along
many points on the Oregon Trail through southern Idaho and were just
as frequently reported in Box Elder and Cache counties in northern

The Fort Hall Indian Reservation is today effectively divided into two
parts by the Portneuf River and the city of Pocatello. Most of the
population, including the descendents of the Bannock and of the Lemhi,
Fort Hall, Boise-Weiser, and Snake River Shoshone, live on the larger
and more fertile northeastern section. On the southwestern half live
many Shoshone Indians from northern Utah and from the area of Bannock
Creek, which runs through this part of the reservation. The two
populations mix to only a limited degree; each holds its own Sun
Dance, and the people of the northern part of the reservation feel a
true difference between themselves and those of the southern half.
This separateness evidently goes back to pre-reservation times. The
Bannock Creek Shoshone did not merge or interact very closely with the
Shoshone of Fort Hall, and Bannock informants claim that they never
had much to do with the latter.

The Bannock Creek Shoshone, as they are often called today, have been
assigned a number of names. The most common, and the one most
frequently used, is Hukandika or, as Hoebel transcribes it, Hzkandika
(Hoebel, 1938, p. 410). Steward also reported this name for the
Bannock Creek people, but since the Shoshone of Promontory Point were
also so designated, Steward uses the alternate food name of Kumuduka,
or "jackrabbit eaters," for the residents of Bannock Creek (Steward,
1938, p. 217). Other names are Yahandika (also applied to the
salmon-fishing population of the middle Snake River), Yambarika
("yamp-root eaters"), and Sonivedika ("wheat eaters"). This last term
is, of course, post-white and illustrates the adaptability of these
names. Hukandika, or variants thereof, were reported in earlier times,
although as a group living in northern Utah. Dunn wrote of the
"Ho-kan-di-ka" of the Salt Lake Valley and Bear River (Dunn, 1886, p.
277), and Lander reported the "Ho-kanti'-kara, or Diggers on Salt
Lake, Utah" (Wheeler, 1875, p. 409). For purposes of convenience, we
shall refer to these Indians in this report as Bannock Creek Shoshone,
although the range of their activities extended to the south well
beyond this valley and into Utah.

More than any other Shoshone group in Idaho, the Bannock Creek people
developed in the immediate post-contact period all the characteristics
of the "predatory band," familiar to us from the Oregon Paiute and the
Nevada Shoshone. The "predatory band" as illustrated among the latter
population and among certain Ute and Nevada Shoshone groups, was a
response to contact with the whites. The aborigines saw the sources of
their subsistence threatened and were forced to defend themselves
against the whites. Through trade and hostilities they acquired horses
and thereby achieved the increased mobility and ease of communication
necessary to a centrally led band organization. Plunder from wagon
trains and ranches opened up new sources of wealth to them and made
warfare attractive, over and above the needs of self defense. But
always the nucleating force behind the bands was warfare and the
prestige of certain war leaders.

The war leader of the Bannock Creek Shoshone was Pocatello, a name
given him by the whites. Pocatello's band was listed among the
"Western Snakes" by Lander in 1860: "Po-ca-ta-ra's band. Goose Creek
Mountains, head of Humboldt, Raft Creek, and Mormon settlements horses
few" (Lander, 1860, p. 137). Pocatello was also one of the signers of
a treaty with Governor Doty at Box Elder on July 30, 1863; this treaty
was an aftermath of General Connor's slaughter of the Shoshone on Bear
River in January of the same year (Doty, 1865, p. 319). There was very
little difficulty with the band after the Bear River battle.
Superintendent Irish wrote in 1865 (1866, p. 311):

     There are three bands of Indians known as the northwestern
     bands of the Shoshonees, commanded by three chiefs, Pocatello,
     Black Beard, and San Pitch, not under the control of
     Wash-a-kee; they are very poor and number about fifteen
     hundred; they range through the Bear River lake, Cache and
     Malade valleys, and Goose Creek mountains, Idaho Territory.

Superintendent Head's report of 1866, however, indicates a continuing
relation between the Indians of southern Idaho and northern Utah and
those of Wyoming (Head, 1867, p. 123).

     A considerable number of these Indians [those of northern Utah
     and southern Idaho known as Northwestern Shoshone after the
     treaty of 1863], including the two chiefs Pokatello and Black
     Beard, have this season accompanied Washakee to the Wind River
     valley on his annual buffalo hunt.

In the following year, Head summarized the distribution of mixed
groups of Shoshone and Bannock in the region (1868, p. 176).

     They inhabit, during about six months in each year, the valleys
     of the Ogden, Weber, and Bear rivers, in this territory. A
     considerable portion of their numbers remain there also during
     the whole year, while others accompany the Eastern Shoshone to
     the Wind River valley to hunt buffalo. They claim as their
     country also a portion of southern Idaho, and often visit that
     region, but game being there scarce and the country mostly
     barren, their favorite haunts are as before stated.

According to Steward, Pocatello's band was an innovation in Bannock
Creek (1938, p. 217):

     Apparently there were several independent villages in this
     district in aboriginal days, but when the people acquired many
     horses and the white man entered the country they began to
     consolidate under Pocatello, whose authority was extended over
     people at Goose Creek to the west and probably at Grouse Creek

Actual war parties were led by Pocatello and numbered only ten to
twenty men, according to one informant. Hostile activities were
conducted especially on the Oregon Trail, which ran through southern
Idaho, and his band was responsible also for the attack at Massacre
Rocks (near the Snake River) and for various raids in northern Utah.

When not on the warpath, the Bannock Creek Shoshone followed a more
prosaic round of native subsistence activities. Information on the
winter quarters of the Bannock Creek people is uncertain. There were
some winter camps on Bannock Creek, and one informant reported that
Pocatello also wintered on the Portneuf River between Pocatello and
McCammon. Others said that Pocatello wintered at times on the Bear
River near the Utah-Idaho line.

Pocatello was not the only chief among the Bannock Creek people. Two
others were named Pete and Tom Pocatello, although their relation to
Pocatello himself was doubtful. These chiefs had their own followers,
who were nonetheless known as Hukandika by informants. Tom Pocatello
remained in the general area of Malade City, Idaho, and Washakie,
Utah, and wintered on the Bear River.

When they were not engaged in or threatened by hostilities, the
Bannock Creek Shoshone split into small camp groups much as they did
in pre-white days. At least part of the band went to Glenn's Ferry on
the Snake River in the springtime, where they remained throughout the
salmon run. Similarly, many went--probably as individual families and
camp groups--to Camas Prairie for summer root digging. Others might
travel into the Bear River and Bear Lake country, while still others
journeyed to Nevada to visit or to be present for the September
pine-nut harvests. Those who were mounted even traveled into Wyoming
and visited and hunted buffalo with the Eastern Shoshone.

With the previously mentioned Paraguitsi, the Bannock Creek people
were the only Idaho Shoshone who depended upon the pine nut for an
important part of their winter's provisions. These nuts could be
obtained in the Goose Creek and Grouse Creek Mountains in late
September. One informant reported that, if the harvest failed, many
people went into the mountains west of Wendover and Ibapah, Utah, for
the gathering there. A family could gather sufficient pine nuts in the
fall, it was claimed, to last it until March.

The general round of migrations of the Bannock Creek people brought
them into contact with the Shoshone of Nevada and with the small and
scattered Shoshone groups of northern Utah, from whom they are almost
indistinguishable. Buffalo hunting and common use of the Bear River
region resulted in considerable interaction with the Eastern Shoshone,
who also made use of this area in pre-reservation times. There was
extensive intermarriage between the Eastern Shoshone and those of
Bannock Creek and northern Utah, and one informant reports that their
dialects were much alike. This affinity between the two groups finds
further documentation in the belief of one of Steward's informants
that the Bannock Creek people must have come from Wyoming (Steward,
1938, p. 217).


Above American Falls, the native population consisted of both Shoshone
and Bannock Indians who were mounted and seasonally pursued the
buffalo. Population aggregations were, in general, considerably larger
than in any of the foregoing areas of Idaho. Ogden saw a "Snake" camp
of 300 tents, 1,300 people and 3,000 horses on Little Lost River in
November, 1827 (Ogden, 1910, p. 364), and Beckwourth claimed that he
had met thousands of mounted and hostile Indians at the mouth of the
Portneuf River in the spring of 1826 (Beckwourth, 1931, pp. 64-65).

The journal of Warren Angus Ferris contains many references to the
population in eastern Idaho in the period 1831-1833. The area
evidently was frequently entered by warlike Blackfoot parties and by
more peaceful groups of Flathead, Nez Percé, and Pend Oreille trappers
and buffalo hunters (cf. Ferris, 1940, pp. 87, 146, 153-155, 185).
Buffalo were still to be found and Ferris encountered large herds on
the upper Snake River (ibid., p. 87); Nez Percé and Flathead Indians
were seen on the divide between Birch Creek and the Lemhi River en
route to hunt buffalo (ibid., p. 146). But the Indians most frequently
encountered in the region were Bannock and Shoshone. On the Snake
River plains near Three Buttes Ferris noted (p. 132):

     In the evening two hundred Indians passed our camp, on their
     way to the village, which was situated at the lower butte. They
     were Ponacks, as they are generally called by the hunters, or
     Po-nah-ke as they call themselves. They were generally mounted
     on poor jaded horses, and were illy clad.

In November, 1832, it was reported that "a village of Snakes and
Ponacks amounting to about two hundred lodges on Gordiez [Big Lost]
River" was attacked by a party of Blackfoot (ibid., pp. 185-186). The
"Snakes" drove them off, but the "Horn Chief" was killed. The Horn
Chief was reported on the Bear River in 1830 (ibid., pp. 71-73). This
group may have been the same one mentioned a month later as being in
winter camp on the Portneuf River (ibid., p. 188). Another Bannock
camp was found in December, 1832, on the Blackfoot River. Ferris wrote
(ibid., pp. 189-190):

     I visited their village on the 20th and found these miserable
     wretches to the number of eighty or one hundred families,
     half-naked, and without lodges, except in one or two instances.
     They had formed, however, little huts of sage roots, which were
     yet so open and ill calculated to shield them from the extreme
     cold, that I could not conceive how they were able to endure
     such severe exposure.

Ferris' description does not seem typical of the Plainslike Bannock
Indians. There are two possible explanations: these Bannock had been
attacked by hostiles and had lost their possessions; or they had
recently moved westward from Oregon. The latter possibility cannot be
ruled out, for the Bannock and the Northern Paiute were in contact
during the salmon season and the Oregon people drifted over to join
their colinguists on the upper Snake River until much later in the

The presence of the Horn Chief on the Big Lost River in Idaho and the
Bear River in Utah bespeaks the fact that the residents of eastern
Idaho entered the northern Utah region quite as frequently as did the
Shoshone of western Wyoming. Zenas Leonard reported meeting Bannock
Indians some four days' travel west of the Green River. Depending on
their speed, the trappers may have been in southern Idaho or some part
of northern Utah. Leonard wrote of the Bannock (1934, p. 105):

     On the fourth day of our Journey we arrived at the huts of some
     Bawnack Indians. These Indians appear to live very poor and in
     the most forlorn condition. They generally make but one visit
     to the buffaloe country during the year, where they remain
     until they jerk as much meat as their females can lug home on
     their backs. They then quit the mountains and return to the
     plains where they subsist on fish and small game the remainder
     of the year. They keep no horses and are always easy prey for
     other Indians provided with guns and horses.

It would be difficult to imagine a people without horses traveling
across the Continental Divide for buffalo, and it must be assumed that
the near-by herds that then existed were used.

Bonneville met a Bannock winter camp in January, 1833, near the Snake
River, in the vicinity of Three Buttes (Irving, 1850, p. 88). They
numbered 120 lodges and were said to be deadly enemies of the
Blackfoot, whom they easily overcame when their forces were equal. In
the following winter the Bannock camp was at the mouth of the Portneuf
River, near the last season's site (Irving, 1837, 2:41). And in
August, 1834, Townsend saw two lodges of some twenty "Snakes" who were
"returning from the fisheries and traveling towards the buffalo on the
'big river' (Shoshone's) [Snake River]" (Townsend, 1905, p. 245).

Russell's journal provides further description of buffalo hunting on
the upper Snake River. He himself hunted buffalo out of the newly
established Fort Hall post in 1834 (Russell, 1955, pp. 7-8). On
October 1 of that year a village of 60 lodges of "Snakes" was
found on Blackfoot River; the chief was "Iron wristbands" or
"Pah-da-her-wak-un-dah." On October 20 a camp of 250 "Bonnak" lodges
arrived at Fort Hall. Russell met some 332 lodges, of six persons
each, hunting buffalo in the vicinity of Birch Creek in October, 1835
(p. 36). Their chief was "Aiken-lo-ruckkup," a brother of the late
Horn Chief. The trapper also found 15 lodges of "Snakes" in the same
area (p. 37). Twenty-five miles east of the Bannock camp, Russell
found a buffalo-hunting camp of 15 "Snake" lodges under "Chief Comb
Daughter," or the "Lame Chief" (p. 38). Presumably, Russell's
"Snakes" were Shoshone. The buffalo evidently disappeared from the
Snake River drainage by 1840, for the last reference to their presence
in this region is in January, 1839, when Russell mentions the presence
of buffalo bulls on the upper Snake River (p. 93).

Lieutenant John Mullan encountered two "Banax" Indians in December,
1853, on the Jefferson River in Montana. They had crossed the
mountains from the Salmon River country in hopes of meeting other
Bannock returning from the buffalo hunt. He noted the inroads on their
numbers made by smallpox and the Blackfoot and commented (Mullan,
1855, p. 329. "The most of them now inhabit the country near the
Salmon River, where, in their solitude and security, they live
perfectly contented in spearing the salmon, and living on roots and
berries.") Across the divide between Montana and Idaho, in the
vicinity of Camas Creek, they met a single Bannock lodge en route to
the mountains (p. 333). North of Fort Hall, the party came upon three
or four families of "Root Digger Indians" whose destitute condition
was described by Mullan (p. 334).

The Bannock had visited Fort Bridger for purposes of trade over a
period of many years and continued the practice after the end of the
fur boom. Superintendent Jacob Forney reported that some 500 Bannock
under chief "Horn" appeared there in 1859 and claimed a home in the
Utah Territory (Forney, 1860a, p. 31). Forney granted them permission
to remain in the region claimed by Washakie. A body of Bannock was in
the vicinity of Fort Bridger in 1867, but Washakie refused to share
the Eastern Shoshone allotment with them. It will be remembered that a
part of the Bannock population had been collected on the Boise River
prior to this time. Indians denominated as Bannock were evidently to
be found in a number of places during this period. Commissioner of
Indian Affairs Taylor reported in 1868 (1869, p. 683):

     The other tribes in Montana are the Bannock and the Shoshones,
     ranging about the headwaters of the Yellowstone, and reported
     to be in a miserable and destitute condition. These Indians it
     is believed are parties to a treaty made by Gov. Doty on the
     14th of Oct., 1863, at Soda Springs, not proclaimed. As they
     occupy a part of the country claimed by the Crows, I think it
     advisable ... to induce them to remove to the Shoshone country,
     in the valley of the Shoshone (Snake) River.

In the same year Mann assembled 800 Bannock for a treaty conference,
but one-half of this number left the gathering in June, 1868, when the
commissioner failed to appear (Mann, 1869, p. 617). The 800 Bannock
were gathered by Chief "Taggie" (Tygee), who was also mentioned in the
1869 report of the Fort Hall Agent (Danilson, 1870, p. 730).

Unless the Bannock were an amazingly mobile people, they must have
traveled in a number of groups during the late 1860's. Superintendent
Sully of Montana wrote in September, 1869 (Sully, 1870, p. 731):

     ... [the Bannock] are a very small tribe of Indians, not
     mustering over five hundred souls. They claim the southwestern
     portion of Montana as their land, containing some of the
     richest portions of the territory, in which are situated
     Virginia City, Boseman City, and many other places of note.

However, Superintendent Floyd-Jones of Idaho reported in 1869 (1870,
p. 721):

     The Bannacks, about six hundred strong, have always claimed
     this country, and promise that this winter's hunt in the Wind
     River Mountains shall be their last ...

Groups of Bannock were variously reported in Wyoming, Montana, and
Idaho during these years, and it is to be assumed that they sought
both buffalo and rations. Governor Campbell of Wyoming wrote in
October, 1870, that the Bannock had spent the summer with the Crow
Indians (J. A. Campbell, 1871, p. 639) after leaving Wind River. The
Bannock were evidently the most difficult to settle of all the Idaho
Indians, and their nomadic propensities were restrained only after the
conclusion of the Bannock War of 1878. The data that follow were
gathered through ethnographic means and continue and summarize the
foregoing historical account.

The Bannock population of the Fort Hall plains was undoubtedly
resident in that area for a considerable period. Living on the western
slope of the Continental Divide, they crossed the mountains frequently
to hunt in the buffalo country of the Missouri drainage. In the
process they came into contact with tribes of the Plains and borrowed
a good deal of culture from them. However, contact with the Paiute of
Oregon continued. During the Bannock War of 1878 the Fort Hall
insurgents were joined by the rebellious inmates of the Malheur Agency
in eastern Oregon. Also, genealogies given by informants indicate that
many Northern Paiute were still leaving their Oregon habitat as late
as the time of the treaty and thereafter and were joining the Bannock
in their more abundant and exciting life of warfare and buffalo
hunting. In effect, these migrants became "Bannock" when they began to
live with the Bannock. The formation of the Bannock in southeastern
Idaho from Oregon Paiute who managed to get horses and were attracted
by the buffalo hunt was not a single occurrence at some indefinite
time in the past; it was a continuing process that lasted into the
reservation period. There is no evidence placing the Bannock in the
Fort Hall area before the introduction of the horse. It is doubtful
that they predated this time, given the fact that buffalo hunting on
horse was one of the main attractions of eastern Idaho.

The relation of the Bannock to neighboring Shoshone groups,
denominated by the generic term, "Wihinait," is somewhat problematic
and can best be understood from detailed consideration of the two
populations. Steward says that "the Fort Hall Bannock and Shoshoni
were probably comparatively well amalgamated into a band by 1840"
(Steward, 1938, p. 202), but also notes (p. 10) that "Bannock and
Shoshoni, though closely cooperating and living on terms of equality,
were politically distinct in that each had its band chief." Our
evidence indicates that there was a good deal of social intercourse
and intermarriage and coöperation in the buffalo hunt between the two
groups, but except when engaged in some joint endeavor each appears to
have maintained its autonomy. Although there were organized bands,
their lines were not very clear-cut because of their frequent fission
(ibid., p. 202):

     Even with the advantage of the horse, it was not always
     expedient for the combined Bannock-Shoshoni band to move as a
     unit. They frequently split into small subdivisions, each of
     which travelled independently through Southern Idaho to procure
     different foods, to trade, and occasionally to carry on

Despite the presence of many Plains Indian culture elements, the
social structure of the Fort Hall people was basically that of the
Shoshonean population of the Basin-Plateau. While they grouped into
larger units for certain defined purposes, these units functioned only
during part of the year. The internal organization of the bands was
fluid, amorphous, and shifting.

The question of the constitution of the bands also remains: was there
one large Fort Hall Shoshone and Bannock band, were there one Fort
Hall Bannock and one Fort Hall Shoshone band, or were both populations
split into smaller groups? Both Steward and Hoebel reject the first
possibility, and the answer seems to lie somewhere between the second
and third. Hoebel names four Bannock bands (1938, p. 412): Cottonwood
Salmon Eaters, Deer Eaters, Squirrel Eaters, Plant (?) Eaters. One
informant told us also of four food names among the Bannock. These
were: Biviadzugarika ("root [?] eaters,") Topihabirika ("root [?]
eaters"), Tohocharika ("deer eaters"), and Yaparika ("yamp eaters").
Only part of the Fort Hall Bannock population bore these names. The
names did not refer to band groupings of any type, and their bearers
were of various bands. Our informant did not know the origin of this
nomenclature. It is possible that the names designated Oregon food
areas and were applied to more recent migrants from the Oregon Paiute,
but the names do not bear sufficiently close correspondence to those
given by Blythe and Stewart to validate this assumption.

Bannock informants claimed that there was a head chief of all the
Bannock, Tahgee, and that subchiefs under him were leaders of smaller
groups at certain times of the year. The subchiefs were said to have
attended the treaty conference at Fort Bridger with Tahgee. Their
names were Patsagumudu Po'a, Kusagai, Totowa, Pagoit, and Tahee.
Tahgee represented the Bannock in their affairs with the whites and
was the leader of the buffalo hunt. Otherwise, he seems to have
exerted little direct authority over his people, although he had great
influence in council. Bannock informants all asserted that people went
where they wished when they wished and did not necessarily travel
under any form of leadership.

Bannock chieftainship was nonhereditary and was assigned by general
agreement to a man noted for wisdom and courage.

Among the Shoshone of the Fort Hall region, leadership was more
clearly a function of interaction with the whites. One man was said to
have become chief "because he helped the whites." Two chiefs were
reported, Aidamo and Aramun; the bands of both roamed through
southeastern Idaho and into northern Utah. These Shoshone were called
by the Bannock, "Winakwat," or "Wihinait" in Shoshone. The name
evidently did not refer to a single band but designated all
Shoshone-speaking people of the immediate area. I could find no
confirmation of Hoebel's Elk Eaters, Groundhog Eaters, and Minnow
Eaters, all of whom were said to live in the area roamed over by the
various Fort Hall Shoshone and Bannock groups (Hoebel, 1938, pp.

In the Fort Hall area, as in the rest of Idaho, winter habitat
supplies the only stable criterion for identifying the several groups
or populations. The Bannock customarily wintered on the Snake River
bottoms above Idaho Falls and at the mouth of Henry's Fork near
Rexburg, Idaho. They also wintered downstream in the vicinity of the
modern town of Blackfoot, Idaho; historical sources mention Bannock
winter camps at the mouth of the Portneuf River. The Snake
River--Henry's Fork sites were favored because of the abundance of the
mule-tailed deer, which came into the bottomlands in the winter.
Another source of subsistence in winter was cottontail rabbits, which
were caught among the willows in the bottoms with a noose snare or by
surrounding them and killing them with the bow and arrow.

The main winter subsistence, and the food source that provided the
margin of survival, was the dried meat of buffalo, elk, and deer taken
in the fall hunts, supplemented by dried roots and berries. Food
caches were maintained near camp, but they were generally resorted to
only in the spring, when the dried food kept in the lodges was
exhausted. The location of the cache was known only to the family that
made it. Caches and their contents were considered private property.
Dried roots, berries, and salmon were generally kept in the
underground caches, but not meat.

Bannock winter camps were spread out along the river; there was no
central encampment. The population was predominantly Bannock, although
many Shoshone lived among them either through in-marriage or by

Not all of the Bannock wintered on the Snake River. Those who crossed
the divide for buffalo frequently did not return in time to cross the
mountains before the snows blocked the high passes and so generally
wintered in western Montana, not joining the rest until spring.

The Wihinait, or Shoshone of the Fort Hall area, were said to have
wintered apart from the Bannock on the Portneuf River. Winter camps
ranged along the Portneuf between Pocatello and McCammon, and other
places as far south as Malade City, Idaho, were sometimes occupied.
Here, too, the population lived off stored food and whatever game
could be taken.

The winter quarters of the Shoshone were more secure from enemy
attack, however, than were those of the Bannock. The only hostile
tribe to enter southern Idaho with any frequency was the Blackfoot.
They pressed their attacks vigorously, especially against the Bannock,
and were a subject of some wonder owing to their practice of sending
out war parties in the middle of winter. Blackfoot war parties,
consisting only of men, frequently came south from Montana before the
passes were closed by the winter snows and made camp on Henry's Fork,
near the present site of St. Anthony, Idaho. From this convenient
point they sent small raiding parties against the Bannock camps. The
main purpose of these raids was to capture horses, which were driven
north to the Blackfoot country when the passes opened in the spring.
Although the Bannock were kept on the defensive, they were not the
helpless prey of the Blackfoot. Defensive tactics were frequently too
late, for the enemy drove off horses surreptitiously by night, but
counterraids were made and pursuit was given in return. The Blackfoot
occasionally pressed their raids farther downstream and entered the
Portneuf Valley, but such forays were less frequent. Historical
records, however, mention Blackfoot raids in Yellowstone Park and
Jackson Hole and as far south as the valleys of the Green and Bear
rivers and Great Salt Lake.

When spring arrived the winter camp broke up and both Shoshone and
Bannock split up into small groups, each of which went their separate
ways. Hunting was the first undertaking after breaking up winter camp.
The spring hunt was usually conducted in Idaho rather than in more
distant places, since most people wished to return later in the spring
for salmon fishing at Glenn's Ferry. Small parties of only a few
lodges each roamed through the mountains of Caribou County, Idaho, in
search of deer and elk, while others went southwards into the Bear
River and Bear Lake country. Chub were caught in Bear River, and duck
eggs were gathered and ducks killed in the marshes at the north end of
Bear Lake. During the spring wanderings, roots were dug also.

The route to Bear River went through much the same country as modern
U.S. Highway 30 N. Parties ascended the Portneuf River and crossed the
divide to the Bear River at the site of Soda Springs. They continued
south on the Bear River to Montpelier. Those who did not intend to
return for salmon but wished to visit the Eastern Shoshone ascended
the Bear River to Cokeville and Sage and crossed the Bear River
Divide, passing the fossil-fish beds en route.

As has been mentioned, not all the Shoshone and Bannock went to
Glenn's Ferry to take salmon; those who did went in small groups
rather than in a body. Parties followed the Snake River down to
Glenn's Ferry, where they fished with harpoons. The Fort Hall people
apparently did not make fish weirs. The weirs were usually the work of
the winter population of the salmon areas, but one informant stated
that the Bannock shared in the catch.

Some Bannock continued downstream past Glenn's Ferry and fished in the
Bruneau River, while others went to the Boise and Weiser rivers. Trade
was conducted with the Nez Percé in the Weiser Valley; informants did
not believe that the Bannock or the Shoshone took part in the trade
with the Columbia River tribes in the Grand Ronde Valley in
northeastern Oregon. This trade was, however, before the memories of
any of our informants (or of their fathers).

At the conclusion of the spring salmon run, the scattered camp grounds
of Fort Hall Shoshone and Bannock went to Camas Prairie, where they
dug camas, yamp, and other roots and fattened their horses for the
fall hunt. Roots could also be dug in other areas, like the Weiser
Valley and the plains and foothills near Fort Hall, and some families
did not go to Camas Prairie.

In most years Camas Prairie served as the marshalling grounds for the
annual buffalo hunt. On these occasions, Bannock and mounted Shoshone
of the Fort Hall area joined forces. While it is possible that these
groups combined also with the Lemhi Shoshone for the buffalo hunt, we
could obtain no corroboration of this grouping from informants.
Informants generally stated that the buffalo party was composed
chiefly of Bannock and was led by the Bannock chief. While many Fort
Hall Shoshone took part, most hunted elk, moose, and deer on the
western side of the Continental Divide. Furthermore, some Bannock did
not take part in the hunt and similarly hunted in Idaho and
southwestern Wyoming.

It should be noted that information on the entry of Shoshone or
Bannock groups into the buffalo grounds of Montana occurs very early
in the historical period in the reports of Lewis and Clark, and also
very late in this period. It is true that there is little pertinent
historical data on southwestern Montana, but there is a distinct
possibility that the Shoshone and Bannock did not cross the Divide
annually. Buffalo were found on the upper Snake River prairie until
about 1840, and the presence of the Blackfoot in Montana made ventures
there risky. It is noteworthy that in the early reservation period the
Bannock crossed the Divide into the Big Horn drainage in company with
the Eastern Shoshone; the trip through Green River and thus to Wind
River was not by any means the shortest route to the buffalo country.
On the other hand, informants gave highly detailed information on the
trail to the Montana buffalo grounds and showed detailed traditional
knowledge of it. Without more continuous historical data such as is
available on transmontane hunting patterns in Wyoming, any question of
historical changes in hunting itineraries must remain open.

From Camas Prairie, contemporary informants say, the buffalo party
skirted the southern end of the Sawtooth Mountains and went up the
Little Lost River, crossing over to the Lemhi River. They then
traveled down the Lemhi and across the Divide via Lemhi Pass.
Descending the east side of the mountains, the buffalo party arrived
on the Beaverhead River at a point close to Armstead, Montana. They
then traveled down the Beaverhead past Twin Bridges to the point where
the Beaverhead becomes the Jefferson River and thence downstream to
the Three Forks of the Missouri. One informant said that the
Beaverhead Valley contained buffalo in earlier times, but by the
period preceding the treaty it was necessary to go much farther east.
From Three Forks, Montana, the buffalo route followed the present line
of U.S. Highway 10 through Bozeman and over Bozeman Pass. The party
pressed eastwards until it arrived in the country called Buffalo Heart
by the Bannock because a near-by mountain supposedly had the shape of
a buffalo heart; this was the fall and winter hunting grounds of the
Idaho Shoshone and Bannock. It was near the Yellowstone River between
Big Timber and Billings, Montana, though the migratory habits of
buffalo and buffalo hunters would dictate considerable movement within
the region.

The buffalo hunters remained to the west of the Bighorn River and,
presumably, they did not encroach too heavily upon the Crow. While the
Crow considered the Eastern Shoshone enemies, we have no information
on hostilities between them and the Idaho people. The Bannock actually
camped with the Crow in the late 1860's and early 1870's.

To return to the route to the buffalo country, some alternate trails
must be noted. After leaving Camas Prairie the party sometimes passed
through Arco and Idaho Falls, Idaho, and then headed north over the
Divide, via Monida Pass. They followed Red Rock Creek down to its
confluence with the Beaverhead and followed the previously described

Also, the buffalo party did not always reach Bozeman Pass via the
Three Forks of the Missouri. The alternate route crossed from the
Beaverhead River to the Madison River via Virginia City. The party
continued down the Madison a short distance and then went east to
Bozeman where the trail joined the one already outlined. There were
undoubtedly several other routes that are no longer remembered by

The buffalo hunt was conducted by much the same techniques as already
described for the Eastern Shoshone. Two scouts were sent out to
report upon the presence of buffalo, and the party surrounded and
pursued the herd as a group. No police societies to prevent hunting by
individuals were reported by our Idaho Shoshone and Bannock
informants, nor is there historic evidence of the institution. Guns,
spears, and the bow and arrow were used.

Meat was jerked and dried on the plains and the slain buffalo were
skinned and their hides dried. When as much of these commodities as
the pack horses could carry was accumulated, the party struck out for
home. Owing to the great distance between the Snake River Valley and
the buffalo country, winter usually overtook the party en route. If
the passes were still open when the hunters reached the Divide, they
went into winter quarters on the Snake River. If the heavy snows
caught the party while still far from the mountains, they kept
traveling slowly westward and attempted to encamp in one of the well
wooded and sheltered valleys on the east side of the Divide. When the
passes opened in the spring, they crossed into Idaho.

During the winter the party subsisted upon the dried buffalo meat and
whatever game could be killed. An important product of the hunt, the
most important according to one informant, was the buffalo hides from
which tipis and robes were made. Since there was no spring hunt and
other game was plentiful in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming in the
fall, the hides may well have been the primary attraction of the
buffalo country.

Those Shoshone and Bannock who did not follow the buffalo party
carried on the fall hunt in southeastern Idaho, northern Utah, and
western Wyoming. The elk and deer hunted could best be taken by small
groups, hence hunting parties were not large and communal techniques
were not necessary. Also, since these animals were scattered
throughout the region and did not travel in the huge herds
characteristic of the buffalo, the population had to spread out
accordingly. Somewhat larger groups gathered to hunt antelope, but
these were temporary aggregations. The actual size of the fall hunting
groups is uncertain. One informant said that each consisted of about
fifteen tipis, while another said that groups of two to four tipis
were common. These smaller camp groups were known as _nanogwa_. Their
size was said to have made them more vulnerable to attack than the
somewhat larger concentrations.

Some locales were known to have a plentiful supply of certain game
animals. Caribou County in southeastern Idaho was considered good for
deer hunting, while Jackson Hole and Yellowstone Park were noted for
elk. The arid highlands of southwestern Wyoming abounded in antelope.
Of course, all of these areas contained other types of game, and wild
vegetables could be obtained in all.

The fall hunt began at the end of August or in early September when
the game was growing fat. Some parties went from Camas Prairie to
Jackson Hole and Yellowstone via Idaho Falls and the Snake River. The
route used was much the same as that followed by U.S. Highway 26. One
informant spoke of Targhee Pass and West Yellowstone, Idaho, as being
a point of entry to and departure from the Yellowstone country. The
Snake River Trail was more commonly used to enter Jackson and
Yellowstone, although West Yellowstone seems to have been more
frequently traveled on the homeward journey. The west slope of the
Tetons, the area drained by Teton River, was used also by hunting

Other Bannock and Shoshone camp groups went southward through the
Portneuf Valley and over to the Bear River at Soda Springs; they
followed the Bear River until they bore eastward to Kemmerer, Wyoming.
Most camps of the Idaho Indians remained on the west side of the Green
River. The chief game of the area was the antelope herds which were
found on affluents of the Green River, northeast of Kemmerer. The
Idaho Shoshone and Bannock were joined in the antelope hunt by the
Eastern Shoshone of Wyoming and by the Ute, some of whom crossed the
Uinta Range in early autumn for this purpose. Whether all these people
actually combined for communal hunts is uncertain. It is more probable
that small groups from each population amalgamated. Another attraction
of the Green River country was Fort Bridger, where many of the Indians
went for trade.

A few camps might remain to winter in the Green River country, but
most of them continued their hunt in other parts while returning to
winter quarters. Some camps retraced their outward route, but others
traveled northward through Star Valley in western Wyoming and thence
up the Snake River to Jackson Hole. It must be kept in mind that there
was no central camp group nor were there fixed hunting trails that
each group had to follow and that were recognized as their rightful
grounds. Camp groups could travel where they pleased and when they
pleased. Proprietary rights to hunting grounds were not recognized.

The individual camp groups changed in composition and membership
annually. A small camp of only a few tipis might consist of
consanguineally and affinally related people, but such association was
not a fixed rule. Also, a family could leave one hunting group and
join another at will.

The hunting season ended with the advent of winter. Camp groups
drifted into the previously described winter quarters and awaited
spring, when the cycle would begin again.


One of the most cohesive of all Shoshone groups lived in the valley of
the Lemhi River on the western slope of the Continental Divide. The
Lemhi Shoshone were commonly known by the term Agaidika, or "salmon
eaters." Like the people of the Fort Hall plains they had fairly large
herds of horses, which enabled them to take part in the transmontane
buffalo hunt.

Excellent data on the early historic period in Lemhi Valley is found
in the journals of Lewis and Clark, who crossed the Continental Divide
to the Lemhi River on August 13, 1805. A certain amount of information
on the Shoshone penetration of Montana can be derived from this
source. Sacajawea, the young Shoshone woman who acted as guide and
interpreter for Lewis and Clark, said that she had been kidnaped
during an attack upon the Shoshone at a camp at the Three Forks of the
Missouri River (Lewis and Clark, 1804-06, 2:283). On their return
journey from the Pacific the explorers passed through Big Hole Valley,
slightly above the present town of Wisdom, Montana, where it was noted
that they were "in the great plain where Shoshonees gather Quawmash
and cows etc." (ibid., 5:250-251). The party proceeded westward up
the Beaverhead River, where Sacajawea claimed the Shoshone were
sometimes found (p. 321) and above Dillon saw one mounted Indian
thought to be Shoshone (p. 329). No other Indians were sighted,
although there were indications on the upper Beaverhead River that
Indians had been digging roots (pp. 332, 334). Apparently the buffalo
had been receding to the east even at that early time, for Sacajawea
said that they used to come to the very head of the Beaverhead River;
apparently they had been hunted out by the Shoshone, who tried to
avoid the trip to the plains by killing as many buffalo as possible in
the mountains (p. 261). It seems evident that the Indians' acquisition
of the horse resulted in some depletion of the buffalo long before the
American hide hunters arrived in the West.

The main body of Shoshone was encountered by Lewis and Clark on their
westward trip in the Lemhi River Valley. The natives were fishing at
the time, and their camps were found scattered along the stream. Camps
of seven families and of one family (ibid., 3:6, 11), and another of
25 lodges (ibid., 2:175) serve as examples of the residence units met.
Lewis estimated the population of the valley as 100 warriors and 300
women and children (ibid., p. 372). They possessed some 700 mounts,
including 40 colts and 20 mules; this, it would seem, was not an
adequate number for the needs of extensive buffalo hunting beyond the
Continental Divide.

The social needs of buffalo hunting evidently produced some degree of
band political integration among the Shoshone. But the "principal
Chief," Ca-me-ah-wait (ibid., p. 340) had only limited powers. Lewis
writes (ibid., p. 370):

     ... each individual is his own sovereign master, and acts from
     the dictates of his own mind; the authority of the Chief being
     nothing more than mere admonition supported by the influence
     which the propriety of his own exemplary conduct may have
     acquired him in the minds of the individuals who compose the

The title of chief was nonhereditary, and, in fact, everybody was to
varying degrees a "chief," Lewis noted; the most influential of the
men was recognized by the others as the "principal chief."

The Shoshone had been pushed westward by the incursions of Indian
tribes armed by the Canadian traders. Ca-me-ah-wait told Lewis that
the Shoshone would be able to remain on the Missouri waters if
equipped with firearms, but under the circumstances had to live part
of the year on the Columbia waters, where they ate only fish, roots,
and berries (ibid., p. 383). A few Shoshone in the Lemhi Valley had
firearms that they obtained from the Crow Indians of the Yellowstone
River (ibid., p. 341). The winter quarters of the Lemhi Shoshone are
not described in the journals, but Lewis wrote that they remained on
the Columbia waters during the time of the salmon run, from May to
September, and then crossed the Divide to the Missouri waters where
they spent the winter (p. 373). The presence of powerful and hostile
tribes in the buffalo country forced the Lemhi Shoshone to travel in
numbers. They were joined by Shoshone from other areas in the Lemhi
Valley and were reinforced by more Shoshone groups and the Flathead at
the Three Forks of the Missouri (p. 324).

The Lemhi Shoshone were preparing to leave for the buffalo hunt on
August 23, 1805. The salmon run was dwindling at the time of the
explorers' visit, for Clark noted that the Indians were living largely
on berries and roots and were quite hungry (ibid., p. 367). Antelope
were hunted by horsemen pursuing the animals in relays, but it was
observed that 40 to 50 men might spend a half-day in this activity and
take only two or three antelope (ibid., p. 346).

The relations of the Shoshone with the outer world gives some
indication of their pattern of movement. They ranged southward to the
Spanish settlements, for some of their mules were obtained from the
Spaniards and articles of Spanish manufacture were noted (ibid., p.
347). The Shoshone were already suffering from smallpox and venereal
disease (ibid., p. 373).

Enemy tribes inflicted losses upon the Shoshone. The "Minetaree of
Fort de prairie" had attacked them and stolen horses and tipis (ibid.,
p. 343), and they had but recently made peace with the Cayuse and
Walla Walla (ibid., 5:157-158). The Nez Percé also had frequent
clashes with the Shoshone (ibid., pp. 24, 55-56, 113); the territorial
situation between the Shoshone and Nez Percé was evidently the same as
in later times, for Ca-me-ah-wait stated that the Nez Percé lived on
the Salmon River, "below the mountains" (ibid., 2:382). Friendly
relations were maintained with the Flathead, who, according to the
journals, lived on the Bitterroot River, but fished on the Salmon
River (ibid., 3:22).

Later references to the Lemhi River region and adjacent portions of
Montana are few. Ferris hunted on the Ruby River in Montana in the
early fall of 1831 and mentioned no Shoshone. He did, however, meet a
Nez Percé camp of 25 lodges (Ferris, 1940, p. 118). Another Nez Percé
camp was encountered after Ferris crossed the Divide to the Lemhi
River (ibid., p. 120). Ferris went to the Ruby River again in 1832 and
again found no Shoshone. His party was attacked by the Blackfoot and
the trappers found refuge in a camp on the Beaverhead River consisting
of 150 lodges of "Flatheads, Pen-d'oreilles, and others" (ibid., pp.
177-178). In 1831, Ferris crossed over Deer Lodge Pass to Big Hole
River, where he noted that they were on the edge of Blackfoot country
(ibid, p. 109). However, he met 100 lodges of Pend Oreilles on Big
Hole River who were en route from Salish House to the buffalo country.
Ferris then joined the Pend Oreille and some Flathead lodges in a
buffalo hunt on the Beaverhead River (ibid., p. 113).

An obvious conclusion from the preceding data is that the Shoshone did
hunt in southwestern Montana, but so also did other peoples. The flux
of various hunting parties in the area was undoubtedly increased
during the fur-trapping period. The extent of their entry into Montana
remains undetermined, but their range undoubtedly shifted during the
historic period as a direct result of the recession eastward of the
buffalo herds. It is uncertain what proportion of the Lemhi population
went on the buffalo hunt, and we lack historical information on their
winter camps across the Divide. However, casual entry of small parties
into southwestern Montana for winter residence would have been most
dangerous throughout the historic period because of the continual
threat of Blackfoot attacks.

Leadership patterns were well developed among the Lemhi people. In
1859 Lander mentioned "Tentoi" who "is not a chief, but has very great
influence with the tribe, and has distinguished himself in wars with
the Blackfeet" (Lander, 1860, p. 125). Tendoy was subsequently said
by Agent Rainsford to be the head chief at Lemhi (Rainsford, 1873, p.
666), and Agent Fuller later noted Tendoy as the chief of the entire
reservation population, which included some 200 Bannock, 500 Shoshone,
and 300 Sheepeaters (Fuller, CD 1639, p. 572). Further information on
Tendoy was obtained from informants, but it is obvious that the
establishment of a reservation in Lemhi Valley resulted in an eclectic
population and the chieftaincy was part of the Indian Office pattern
of reservation administration. There is no doubt, however, that a
pre-reservation chieftaincy did exist, although for different

Informants agreed that the Agaidika formed a unified band under
Tendoy. No other chiefs were named, although there were said to be a
number of minor leaders. Tendoy acted as leader in such communal
pursuits as the making of salmon traps or in the annual buffalo hunt.
Informants said that he called a council of leading men of the band
when any decision affecting the whole group was to be made, and the
results were announced to the people by a man who held the office of
"announcer." Councils might be held before the salmon season and the
buffalo hunt or to plot strategy when on the buffalo hunt.

While the Lemhi Shoshone intermarried with other Shoshone and with
Bannock, there was a clear-cut geographical separation between them
and the above groups. Some Shoshone wintered in Montana on the other
side of the Divide, but they were generally considered to be of the
Lemhi band. To the west was the Sawtooth Range and the Tukurika.
Although the Tukurika had some contact with the Lemhi people, there
were considerable cultural differences between them, owing to the
proximity of Plains Indian tribes to the Agaidika and to the different
subsistent cycles of the two groups. North of the Lemhi country was
the land of the Flathead; to the south the arid Snake River plains
intervened between them and the Fort Hall plains population. The Lemhi
Shoshone were by no means isolated, but there was considerably less
overlapping of activities than in southeastern Idaho.

Winter was usually spent in the valley of the Lemhi River in the area
between the modern town of Salmon and the old Mormon post of Fort
Lemhi. One informant said that the population was distributed in
villages of about a dozen buffalo-hide tipis, each village having a
leader. During the winter the population subsisted upon dried stores
of berries, roots, and the meat of buffalo and other game. The Lemhi
Valley was secure from enemy attack in the winter, for the Blackfoot
concentrated their attention on the Bannock encampments on the Snake

Other Shoshone were said to have wintered occasionally on the
Beaverhead River in Montana. Steward notes that "possibly a few
families lived in the vicinity of Dillon, Montana" (1938, p. 188). He
lists a large winter camp of some forty families named "Unauvump,"
which was situated along Red Rock Creek from Lima, Montana, to Red
Rock Lake (ibid.). Steward notes that this name refers to the
"locomotive" and thus to the Union Pacific Railroad, which follows the
Beaverhead River. We obtained the same name, but our informant thought
it was merely a place name and not a camp site. Also the site was a
short distance up the Beaverhead River from Dillon, Montana. In any
case, the reference to the locomotive established the recency of the
name. In view of the Blackfoot incursions in that area it is doubtful
whether the camp on Red Rock Creek much pre-dated the treaty. However,
Bannock and Shoshone buffalo-hunting parties were frequently forced to
spend the winter in Montana, although the exact location of these
camps is not known.

When winter ended, the Lemhi population did not move far afield in
search of subsistence, but hunted and awaited the spring salmon run in
April. The Indians fished with harpoons, set basketry traps, and made
fish weirs. Most fishing was done in the Lemhi River, but some
families fished in the Pahsimeroi River, an affluent of the Salmon
River which flowed west of and parallel to the Lemhi. Some fishing
took place on the main stream of the Salmon River below its confluence
with the Lemhi, but only harpooning was effective owing to the depth
of the water.

The weirs were put in the water each spring and dismantled in the fall
and stored. Certain men were considered especially proficient in the
construction and operation of fish weirs and assumed supervision over
the operation.

When the salmon runs had ended, many of the Lemhi people went to Camas
Prairie. Some preferred to dig roots in the Lemhi country or to hunt
deer in the ranges on either side of the valley. These hunting groups
were quite small and usually numbered only two to four tipis. The
sojourn on Camas Prairie lasted only about a month and the Lemhi
people returned for the summer-fall salmon run. When this was over at
the end of August, preparations were made for the trip to the buffalo

At least three horses were required for the buffalo hunt: one for the
hunter, another for his wife, and a third for packing purposes. Even
this number was inadequate, since children also needed mounts and one
pack horse was not enough to transport a good take of meat and hides.
Also, the hunter should preferably have a specially trained buffalo
horse, which he would ride only while the buffalo herd was being
chased. While the Lemhi were richer in horses than were most Shoshone,
some people were forced to stay at home. These hunted game in the
mountains of the Lemhi region and adjoining areas on the Montana side
of the Divide and depended to some extent on the largesse of the
returning buffalo party.

The buffalo hunters crossed the Divide through Lemhi Pass to the
Beaverhead River and went out to the hunting grounds along the
previously described routes. Our informants had no recollection of
alliances with other Shoshone or with other tribes on the buffalo hunt
except for one who said that the Lemhi Shoshone hunted with Nez Percé
parties after an earlier period of hostility. At this earlier time the
Nez Percé and the Flathead were said to have been enemies of the Lemhi
people. Lemhi informants claimed that the buffalo parties usually
succeeded in reaching winter quarters on the Lemhi River before the
snows closed the passes. In view of Lewis and Clark's information and
our data from Fort Hall, however, it might be supposed that they were
often forced to remain in Montana for the winter.


Out of the mass of detailed data presented in the preceding chapters,
certain constant features in the life of the buffalo-hunting Shoshone
and Bannock may be discerned. First, there is no doubt of the
importance of buffalo in the economy of these people. During an early
period, when the Shoshone were among the first tribes of the Northern
Plains to adopt the horse, they occupied large areas of the Missouri
drainage and extensive buffalo herds were also to be found west of the
Continental Divide. Even after tribal pressures from the north forced
the Shoshone into residence west of the Rockies part of the time,
advantage was still taken of the buffalo in that region. And regular
sorties were made over the mountains in search of the more abundant
herds there. But no sector of the mounted Shoshone population, at
least after 1800, was completely dependent upon the buffalo nor were
their principal social connections with the east. Rather, their
firmest social ties were with their colinguists to the west, and their
economy also was strongly oriented in that direction.

This fact has been a major source of difficulty in our attempt to
isolate social groupings among the Bannock and Shoshone. The Bannock,
usually accompanied by many Idaho Shoshone, ranged east to central
Montana, or into the Big Horn Basin, with the Eastern Shoshone. Part
of the year, however, saw them in western Idaho and in Oregon, where
they visited and intermarried with the Northern Paiute. Although we
have no information on persons shifting membership from the Bannock to
the Northern Paiute, such relocations no doubt took place, even if
only temporarily. There are ample data, however, to document the
reverse process, for Northern Paiute were continually joining the
Bannock in order to take part in buffalo hunting.

The same fluidity of movement of individuals and families may be noted
among the mounted Shoshone of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Those buffalo
hunters whom we have somewhat arbitrarily assigned to Idaho
customarily wintered on the Portneuf and upper Snake rivers. But they
could be found in different seasons and during various years in
northern Utah, on the waters of the Bear River and east of Great Salt
Lake, and in western Wyoming. Families occasionally went to the Goose
Creek Mountains in the fall for pine nuts, and almost all went down
the Snake River in spring and early summer to take part in salmon
fishing. In all these places they interacted with and could trace
kinship bilaterally to the unmounted, more permanent inhabitants.

This is true also for the so-called Eastern Shoshone. We have shown
that these mounted people wintered on the Bear and Green rivers until
their final establishment on the Wind River Reservation; in fact, the
first Eastern Shoshone Agency was at Fort Bridger. Annual trips were
made to Salt Lake City, after its settlement by the Mormons, and
visits into Idaho were frequent. Moreover, Shoshone not generally
associated with Washakie's leadership who possessed horses joined the
latter for buffalo hunting. Evidence for this is most clear in the
case of Pocatello's followers. This particular band, found at various
times buffalo hunting in central Wyoming, wintering in northern Utah
or southeastern Idaho, and fishing or raiding on the Snake River, is
an excellent example of the social continuity between Plains and
Basin-Plateau. That there was such social continuity, merging, and
interpenetration indicates a common set of social understandings, of
great similarity in social structure. It may be further argued that
this continuity and exchange of population served in some degree to
preserve a more amorphous Basin-type society among the buffalo

It is clear that larger political units existed among the mounted
Shoshone and Bannock than among their fellows to the east. We believe,
however, that it would be erroneous to attribute great stability or
cohesiveness to these aggregates, for the seasonal amalgamation and
splitting of other Plains populations is even more pronounced among
the Shoshone. The reason for this is partly the fact that the Shoshone
spent long periods of the year west of the Rockies and within the
range itself. Buffalo hunting did unite most of the mounted people
every fall and to a lesser extent in the spring. There is considerable
variation of evidence on whether the people crossing the Divide from
Wyoming and Idaho formed two large parties or several smaller ones. It
may be surmised that the large parties were common in earlier times
owing to the threat of enemies, but the smaller ones seem to have been
more common later in the nineteenth century, especially after the
establishment of the Wind River Reservation. The time spent in the
buffalo hunt was closely correlated with the distance to the herds.
Our fragmentary accounts suggest that in the upper Green and Snake
rivers before 1840, smaller groups hunted for shorter periods. The Big
Horn Basin, however, is more than 200 miles from the Green River area,
and the bands were forced to travel longer distances and to kill their
winter meat supply in one prolonged hunt. Although the Wyoming
Shoshone usually were able to return for the winter to the Green and
Bear rivers, this was not true of those Idaho Shoshone and Bannock who
sought buffalo in Montana. The distance from Camas Prairie in Idaho to
the buffalo country of Montana was almost 500 miles, making a winter
return to Idaho most difficult and aggravating the problem of packing
meat. Many of the Idaho people chose not to make this long and
difficult journey and found adequate fall hunting in the local
mountains. A buffalo party could thus be on the move for a few days or
a week, for two months or seven months, depending on the itinerary
followed. Cohesion was closest during actual traveling and hunting.
Winter camps were not tightly nucleated settlements of an entire
buffalo party, for hunting during the winter required some dispersal.
This point deserves some elaboration. Shimkin has stressed the
inadequacy of buffalo hunting for a complete winter subsistence
(Shimkin, 1947_a_, p. 266) and this is borne out by the testimony of
our informants also. Buffalo meat no doubt supplied the margin of
survival, but considerable dependence was placed on elk, deer, moose,
rabbits, and other animals during the winter. A very large and compact
winter camp would soon exhaust the game in its immediate vicinity.
Moreover, the winter location had to be in places where these animals
could be found. Camps were thus generally located in river
valleys, where wood, water, and protection from storms could be found,
but in the vicinity of the high mountains inhabited by the game.

Large population concentrations broke down completely during the
summer. Buffalo hunting was restricted to strays and to the small
timber buffalo. But the principal game was taken in the mountain
country west of the Continental Divide. Large camp groups could not be
adapted to the scattered resources used during this period, and people
gathered mainly for reasons of defense. Summer groupings of a minimum
size seem to have been positively preferred by the Shoshone, as our
data from the post-reservation period indicate.

This ecological adaptation and mode of social interaction with other
groups had a profound effect on the structure of Shoshone society.
Shimkin analyzes the fluctuations in economy and local grouping among
the Wind River Shoshone and states (1947_a_, p. 280):

     It also strengthened the cross-currents of individualism and
     collective discipline: individual prestige in war honors and
     hunting versus united military societies and collective bison

But the basic structure of Shoshone society remained diffuse and
atomistic. Institutions productive of centralization were weak. Lowie,
for example, reports on police, or soldier, societies among the
Eastern Shoshone (Lowie, 1915, pp. 813-814). There were two such
groups, called the Yellow Noses and the Logs. The former used inverted
speech and were expected to be more courageous. They accordingly were
responsible for leading the band when on the march, while the Logs
formed the rear guard. Each of these groups had a headman, but Lowie
states that the tribal chief was a member of neither. Membership was
attained through the candidate's own initiative or by invitation;
purchase and age-grading were not criteria, and societies using such
means of recruitment were evidently absent among the Eastern Shoshone.
Although Lowie did not report the functions of the police societies in
detail, he says that the Yellow Nose society, in addition to its
responsibility of protecting the traveling bands and maintaining order
among them, also policed the hunt. Lowie further writes that the horse
of a deviant hunter would be beaten and that any buffalo hides taken
by him would be destroyed.

Lowie's information on the Idaho is more fragmentary. We learn only
that among the Lemhi Shoshone: "At a dance of hunt, he [the chief] was
assisted by di'rak[=o][`n]e policemen, armed with quirts" (Lowie,
1909, p. 208). Regarding the Lemhi, one of Steward's informants told
him that the police institution had been recently introduced (Steward,
1938, p. 194). Steward's data on the police in Idaho is more complete
(ibid., p. 211):

     The institution of police, which was obviously borrowed from
     Wyoming, is of unknown antiquity. It was largely civil and
     consisted of four or five middle-aged men, Bannock or Shoshoni,
     who had a civic spirit. They were selected and instructed by
     the council.

Actual soldier societies were not present in Idaho. The policemen were
primarily responsible for keeping the traveling band together and were
secondarily concerned with the buffalo hunt.

We specifically queried our Shoshone and Bannock informants on the
presence of police societies or of any techniques for control of
impulsive buffalo hunters. The responses were all negative, nor is
there any historical reference to police societies. The Shoshone and
Bannock, we learned from contemporary Indians, needed no coercion to
keep them from premature and individual preying upon a buffalo herd.
Such action would not be to any individual's self-interest, it was
said, and the censure of the community imposed sufficient control over
individual behavior. But we cannot deny the existence of the two
societies or of the dances associated with them. Rather, we would
surmise that the police societies were not important elements in
social control nor were they ever a key element in Shoshone social
structure; the fact that they have been only imperfectly preserved in
traditional knowledge is, itself, of some significance. We
hypothesize, then, that the symbolic content of soldier societies had
reached the Shoshone without major effects on the ordering of personal
and group relations. These conclusions are much akin to Wallace and
Hoebel's for the Comanche, who were, it seems, able to hunt buffalo
quite effectively without institutionalized coercive restraints
(Wallace and Hoebel, 1952, pp. 56-57).

Chieftaincy was more highly developed in the eastern sectors of the
Shoshone occupancy than among the people farther west. But even among
the mounted bands, the authority of the chiefs was limited. Lewis and
Clark commented on the essentially egalitarian nature of Shoshone
society, and later travelers present evidence leading to the same
conclusion. The wealth differentiation characteristic of the later
history of other Plains tribes never became a significant factor among
the Shoshone. This is no doubt owing in part to their weak military
position and the consequent heavy losses of horses to enemy tribes.
Moreover, the Shoshone were only marginally involved in the
buffalo-hide trade, and large horse herds and extensive polygyny did
not have the utility that they did among, for example, the Blackfoot,
who employed women as an essential part of the labor force (cf. Lewis,

The absence of strong tendencies to stratification and the type of
ecological adaptation present acted to inhibit the development of
strong authority patterns. Leadership over a large population, such as
that exerted by Chief Washakie, was necessarily temporary in nature
and was largely restricted to periods when people united for the
common enterprises of war and buffalo hunting. During the summer and
most of winter and spring a host of minor chiefs of varying influence
and prestige were responsible for directing the activities of clusters
of followers. Even war and the spring and fall hunts did not
necessarily entail the participation of an entire tribe. The buffalo
hunters frequently split into smaller hunting parties when out on the
plains. And warfare, if offensive, usually was carried on by small
raiding parties. Even in defensive warfare attacks were swift and
without warning, and large numbers of people could not be gathered to
repel the invaders.

"Tribal" chiefs did exist in Idaho and Wyoming, but they exercised
discontinuous influence on a group of followers, who might only
infrequently all gather as a unit. And since it is impossible to
isolate Shoshone or Bannock tribes as stable membership units, the
great chiefs may be more profitably viewed as the men of highest
prestige within a certain area. The positions of these leaders became
more clearly defined in later times, when first traders and then
government agents sought them out as representatives of their people.
That the white man's image of the chieftaincy was erroneous may be
seen in the examples cited of disaffection and the subsequent efforts
of the agents to shore up the authority of their delegated chiefs.

Chiefs acted in consultation with councils of distinguished men and
lesser chiefs, and the familiar Plains role of camp announcer is also
present among the Shoshone. The chief in any area achieved his status
through general consensus and recognition of his high prestige.
Generosity, wisdom, bravery, and skill in hunting were key criteria
for the selection of headmen. The position was neither hereditary nor
for life. Although it is not possible to speak of a chief being
"deposed," many a chief was replaced by a man whose star was in the
ascendancy. And it was also possible for two or three men to have
almost equivalent claim to the role within the same district. Despite
the nonhereditary nature of the office, we sometimes find it shared by
brothers, or sometimes one brother succeeded another. Such cases may
be explained as the result of general family prestige or of common
upbringing and ideals of conduct.

One important limiting factor on the power of chiefs was the mobility
of the population. Individuals could and did move to other areas or
join other leaders, and the chief who wished to maintain his influence
over his followers could not carry out policy greatly opposed to their
wishes. The mobility of the population is a function of several
important facts. First, the bands were not corporate units in the
sense of groups holding rights over strategic resources. As we have
seen, there were no such limits within the general range of
Shoshone-speaking people. Band territoriality would have been directly
contradictory to the enormous distances traversed by the mounted
people. The region, as a whole, presented the possibility of a
balanced diet and annual subsistence cycle, but smaller subdivisions
of it could not do so, though they provided overabundance of a limited
number of foods in certain seasons. Even the area of Shoshone
occupation, as compared with other peoples' territory, was vague and
ill defined. Territory, as such, was not a matter of great concern in
the relations of the Shoshone with hostile tribes. Rather, they
vigorously defended their horses and their own lives during enemy
invasions. The buffalo country east of the mountains was roamed over
by several groups, as were the mountain areas of western Wyoming and
Montana. And peaceful groups of the Basin-Plateau merged and
intermingled with the Shoshone in the areas in which they had contact.

The individual, the family, or the group of families that elected to
change leaders within an area or to shift from one area to another did
not give up vested rights and prerogatives. And, given the loose
nature of Shoshone social structure and the diffuse and widespread
network of social relationships, the person or group seeking a change
could usually count upon acceptance elsewhere. The reservation system
tended to tighten political organization and to define groupings more
closely, since reservation membership did constitute a vested interest
and government legitimation and stabilization of a central chieftaincy
restricted the choices open to the individual.

The principal item in the productive apparatus of the mounted Shoshone
was the horse. Without sufficient horses to pursue the buffalo hunt,
the Indian was relegated to "digger" status and had to remain within
the Great Basin. But horses were individual, private property, and a
man could locate under any leadership as long as he was mounted. His
primary economic dependency was thus shifted from the larger social
group to his own herd. Each man was to a large extent his own master
and acted accordingly.

The loose bilaterality of the Shoshone was ideally adapted to their
mode of existence. Our data show some tendency toward matrilocality,
but Steward states that, in Idaho, this is true primarily of the early
years of marriage, after which the couple could exercise a bilocal
option (Steward, 1938, p. 214). The direction of the choice depended
on such situational factors as the prestige of either mate's parents
or their wealth in horses. In any event, there was no marked
preferential weighting of either line. Our informants reported that
the married couple often shifted back and forth for varying periods of
time. Ultimately, the mounted Shoshone may be just as profitably
looked on as neolocal, as were the western Shoshone, for the couple
did not necessarily live with or adjacent to either mate's parents.
People were quite free to join other relatives or to associate closely
with unrelated persons. This, and the periodic splitting up and
reamalgamation of larger groups, inhibited any development of large,
solidary nuclei of bilateral kinsmen. Relationships were traced
bilaterally and widely, but ties were amorphous and weak. Lacking
bounded and corporate kin groups, persons were highly individuated and
possessed maximum geographical mobility.

We may well conclude that, from the point of view of social structure,
the mounted Shoshone were typologically much like the Great Basin
people with whom they had close relations. Easily diffused items of
culture, such as their material inventory, many religious beliefs, and
their mode of warfare, establish their intimate historical connection
with the Plains. But the higher levels of social integration found
among the Shoshone are of a situational nature and are not well
integrated with the fundamental facts of family life and more stable
modes of grouping. It would be erroneous to conclude from this,
however, that this amorphous, Basinlike social structure was
nonadaptive to the Plains. That it is not at all atypical of the area
is indicated by Eggan's statement (1955, pp. 518-519):

     Plains Indian society, despite its lack of lineage and clan,
     still has a social structure. This structure is "horizontal" or
     generational in character and has little depth. The extended
     family groupings in terms of matrilocal residence or centered
     around a sibling group are amorphous but flexible. The
     bilateral or composite band organization, centered around a
     chief and his close relatives, may change its composition
     according to various circumstances--economic or political. The
     camp-circle encompasses the tribe, provides a disciplined
     organization for the communal hunt, and a center for the Sun
     Dance and other tribal ceremonies which symbolized the renewed
     unity of the tribe and the renewal of nature. The seasonal
     alternation between band and tribal camp-circle is related to
     ecological changes in the environment, and particularly to the
     behavior of the buffalo ...

     The working hypothesis proposed earlier ... that "tribes coming
     into the Plains with different backgrounds and social systems,"
     can be tentatively extended to Plains social structure as a
     whole, despite the variations noted. That this is in large
     measure an internal adjustment to the uncertain and changing
     conditions of Plains environment--ecological and social--rather
     than a result of borrowing and diffusion, is still highly

The loose bilaterality seen by Eggan as a characteristic of Plains
society was part of the earlier Shoshone social background. But more
centralized political units and predominantly "horizontal"
organizations, such as age-grade and soldier societies, were more
weakly developed than among many other tribes of the northern Plains.
This fact, as well as the acquisition of firearms by the northern
tribes, may have been responsible for the manifest military weakness
of the Shoshone and their westward retreat beyond the Rocky



    AA        American Anthropologist
    AMNH-AP   American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological
              Papers. New York
    BAE-B     Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin
    CD        Congressional Document, Washington
    MPUS      Report of the President of the United States. Washington
    RCIA      Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Washington
    RSI       Report of the Secretary of the Interior. Washington
    RSW       Report of the Secretary of War. Washington
    UC        University of California Publications. Berkeley and
              Los Angeles
      -AAE          American Archaeology and Ethnology
      -AR           Anthropological Records

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Forney, Jacob
  1859. RCIA 1858, CD 974, pp. 561-565.
  1860_a_. RCIA 1859, CD 1023, pp. 730-741.
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Fremont, John Charles
  1845. Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in
        the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years

Fuller, Harrison
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Gove, Captain Jesse A.
  1928. The Utah Expedition, 1857-58. New Hampshire Historical Society
        Collections, Vol. 12. Otis G. Hammond, ed. Concord, N. H.

Haines, Francis
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Hale, Horatio
  1848. Hale's Indians of Northwest America and Vocabularies of North
        America. Transactions of the American Ethnological Society,
        Vol. 2. New York.

Hamilton, W. T.
  1905. My Sixty Years on the Plains. E. T. Sieber, ed. New York.

Head, F. H.
  1867. RCIA 1866, CD 1284, pp. 122-126.
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Hebard, Grace R.
  1930. Washakie. Cleveland, Ohio.

Hickman, Bill
  1872. Brigham's Destroying Angel. New York.

Hodge, Frederick Webb (ed.)
  1910. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. BAE-B 30, Pt. 2.

Hoebel, E. Adamson
  1938. Bands and Distributions of the Eastern Shoshone. AA 40:410-413.

Holeman, John H.
  1852. RCIA 1852, CD 613, pp. 444-446.
  1854. RCIA 1853, CD 690, pp. 443-447.
  1858. MPUS 1857, CD 956, pp. 139-148, 151-155, 158-161.

Hough, George C.
  1867. RCIA 1866, CD 1284.
  1869. RCIA 1868, CD 1366, pp. 660-661.

Hultkrantz, A.
  1949. Kulturbildningen hos Wyomings Shoshoni-indianer. Ymer, pp.
        134-157. Stockholm.
  1954. Indianerna i Yellowstone Park. Ymer, h. 2. Stockholm.
  1958. Tribal Divisions within the Eastern Shoshoni of Wyoming,
        Proceedings, 32nd International Congress of Americanists,
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Hurt, Garland
  1856. RCIA 1855, CD 810, pp. 517-521.

Irish, O. H.
  1865. RCIA 1864, CD 1220, pp. 313-315.
  1866. RCIA 1865, CD 1248, pp. 310-316.

Irving, Washington
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Irwin, James
  1874. RCIA 1873, CD 1601, pp. 612-613.

Jones, Capt. W. A.
  1875. Report upon the Reconnaissance of Northwestern Wyoming, chap.
        I, pp. 5-44. U. S. Engineer Dept., Washington.

Kirkpatrick, J. M.
  1863. RCIA 1862, CD 1157, pp. 409-412.

Kroeber, A. L.
  1909. The Bannock and Shoshoni Languages, AA 11:266-277.
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  1859. RSI 1859, CD 984, pp. 47-73.
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Lane, Joseph
  1851. RCIA 1851, CD 587, pp. 156-168.

Langworthy, Franklin
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Leonard, Zenas
  1934. Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard. Milo M. Quaife,
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  1942. The Effects of White Contact upon Blackfoot Culture, with
        Special Reference to the Role of the Fur Trade. American
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  1909. The Northern Shoshone. AMNH-AP 2:169-306.
  1915. Dances and Societies of the Shoshone Indians. AMNH-AP 11 (pt.

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Mann, Luther
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  1855. RSW 1854, CD 758, pp. 322-349.

Ogden, Peter Skene
  1909. Journals of the Snake Expeditions, 1825-1826. T. C. Elliott,
        ed. Oregon Historical Quarterly, 10 (no. 4):331-365.
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  1878. RCIA 1877, CD 1800, pp. 603-606.

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Rainsford, J. C.
  1873. RCIA 1872, CD 1560, pp. 666-667.

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  1868. RSW 1867, CD 1317, pp. 1-174.

Remy, Jules, and Julius Brenchley
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Ross, Alexander
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  1955. Journals of a Trapper. Aubrey L. Haines, ed. Oregon Historical

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  1860. Archives of Aboriginal Knowledge. Vol. I. Philadelphia.

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  1938. "Wind River Shoshone Geography," AA 40:413-415. 1939.
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  1938. Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups. BAE-B 120.
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  1939. The Northern Paiute Bands. UC-AR 2:127-149.

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        the Overland Trip Eastward from Astoria in 1812-13. New York.

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  1870. RCIA 1869, CD 1414, pp. 731-735.

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  1905. Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains ... 1834.
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  1916. David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western North
        America, 1784-1812. Publications of the Champlain Society,
        Vol. 12. Toronto.

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  1872. RCIA 1871, CD 1505, pp. 825-833.

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  1861. Letter from the Acting Secretary of the Interior,
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  1859. Affairs in Oregon, CD 1051. Washington.

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  1902. Series I, Vol. 50. Government Printing Office. Washington.

Wheeler, George M.
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        Southeastern Nevada, 1869. U. S. Army Engineering Dept.

Wilkes, Charles (U.S.N.)
  1845. Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the
        Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. Vol. 4. Philadelphia.

Wilson, E. N.
  1926. The White Indian Boy. Yonkers-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Wilson, John
  1849. RCIA 1849, CD 570, pp. 1002-1004.

Wislizenus, F. A.
  1912. A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1839. St. Louis,

Wissler, Clark
  1910. Material Culture of the Blackfoot Indians. AMNH-AP 5
        (pt. 1):1-175.
  1920. North American Indians of the Plains. New York.

Work, John
  1923. The Journal of John Work. Cleveland, Ohio.
  1945. Fur Brigade to the Bonaventura. Alice B. Mahoney, ed. San

Wyeth, Nathaniel J.
  1899. The Correspondence and Journals of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth.
        _In_ Sources of the History of Oregon, Vol. 1, pts. 3-6. Eugene,

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  1852. RCIA 1852, CD 658, pp. 437-439.
  1858. RCIA 1857, CD 919, pp. 598-600.

Transcriber's Notes

Inconsistent and archaic spelling and punctuation retained.

p. 323: Hzkandika (The z was originally a glyph.)

p. 329: (Lewis and Clark, 1904-06, 2:283) changed to
        (Lewis and Clark, 1804-06, 2:283).

p. 333: di'rak[=o][`n]e (Original characters not available.) [=o]
means o with macron. [`n] means n with grave accent.

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