Shoshone SP-1760 - History

Shoshone SP-1760 - History

Shoshone

(SP-1760: dp. 4,707; 1. 367'11"; b. 48'7"; dr. 34'2";
s. 13.5 k.; a. 1 5", 1 3")

The first Shoshone (SP-1760) was built in 1911 by Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, Germany, and operated for the Hamburg-American Lines as Wasgenwald.

The ship was chartered by the Army on 26 October 1917 from the Custom House, N.Y., and used as a depot collier. Shoshone was acquired by the Navy for use as a troop transport and placed in commission on 19 February 1919. She was attached to the Cruiser and Transport Force and, between February and July, made two voyages to St. Nazaire, France, returning with American troops.

Shoshone was decommissioned at Norfolk, Va., on 5 August 1919 and returned to her owner.


19 of the World's Oldest Photos Reveal a Rare Side of History

It's often said that a photo is worth a thousand words, touching people at a deeper level than even the best, most eloquent, writing. Even the world's oldest photographs, those that may seem so very distant from today's high-tech society, may tug at your heart strings or give you a sense of belonging. Here, Live Science looks back at 19 historical photos, shot between the 1820s and 1860s, that may make you look at history, and the world, just a little bit differently. Taking the medal for the oldest known photo ever shot may seem underwhelming at first glance, but look a little longer and you may be amazed. Check it out on the next slide …


Welcome to the Shoshone National Forest

The Shoshone National Forest offers superb scenery and endless recreational opportunities! The Shoshone National Forest was set aside in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve, making the Shoshone the first national forest in the United States. It consists of some 2.4 million acres of varied terrain ranging from sagebrush flats to rugged mountains. The higher mountains are snow-clad most of the year. Immense areas of exposed rock are interspersed with meadows and forests. With Yellowstone National Park on its western border, the Shoshone encompasses the area from the Montana state line south to Lander, Wyoming, and includes portions of the Absaroka, Wind River, and Beartooth Mountains.


The Search Is On for the Site of the Worst Indian Massacre in U.S. History

In the frigid dawn of January 29, 1863, Sagwitch, a leader among the Shoshone of Bia Ogoi, or Big River, in what is now Idaho, stepped outside his lodge and saw a curious band of fog moving down the bluff toward him across a half-frozen river. The mist was no fog, though. It was steam rising in the subzero air from hundreds of U.S. Army foot soldiers, cavalry and their horses. The Army was coming for his people.

Over the next four hours, the 200 soldiers under Colonel Patrick Connor’s command killed 250 or more Shoshone, including at least 90 women, children and infants. The Shoshone were shot, stabbed and battered to death. Some were driven into the icy river to drown or freeze. The Shoshone men, and some women, meanwhile, managed to kill or mortally wound 24 soldiers by gunfire.

Historians call the Bear River Massacre of 1863 the deadliest reported attack on Native Americans by the U.S. military—worse than Sand Creek in 1864, the Marias in 1870 and Wounded Knee in 1890.

It is also the least well known. In 1863, most of the nation’s attention was focused on the Civil War, not the distant western territories. Only a few eyewitness and secondhand accounts of the incident were published at the time in Utah and California newspapers. Local people avoided the site, with its bones and shanks of hair, for years, and the remaining Bia Ogoi families quietly dispersed. But their descendants still tell the tale of that long-ago bloody day, and now archaeologists are beginning to unearth the remains of the village that didn’t survive. 

The valley where the Bear River massacre took place is now criss-crossed by farms and roads. (Courtesy of Ken Cannon)

Darren Parry, a solemn man who is a council member of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and Sagwitch’s great-great-great grandson, stands on a hill named Cedar Point. He looks down on the historic battlefield in its braided river valley. An irrigation canal curves along the base of the bluffs, and a few pickup trucks drive along U.S. Highway 91, following a route used by the Shoshone 200 years ago.

These alterations to the landscape—roads, farms and an aqueduct, along with shifts in the river’s meandering course through the valley—have made it difficult, from a scientist’s perspective, to pinpoint the location of the Shoshone winter village. Parry, though, does not have this problem.

“This spot overlooks everything that was important to our tribe,” he says. “Our bands wintered here, resting and spending time with family. There are warmer places in Utah, but here there are hot springs, and the ravine for protection from storms.”

The So-So-Goi, or People Who Travel on Foot, had been living well on Bia Ogoi for generations. All their needs—food, clothes, tools and shelter—were met by the rabbits, deer, elk and bighorn sheep on the land, the fish in the river, and the camas lilies, pinyon nuts and other plants that ripened in the short, intense summers. They lived in loose communities of extended families and often left the valley for resources such as salmon in Oregon and bison in Wyoming. In the cold months, they mostly stayed in the ravine village, eating carefully stored provisions and occasional fresh meat.

White-skinned strangers came through the mountain passes into the valley seeking beaver and other furs. These men gave the place a new name, Cache Valley, and the year a number, 1825. They gave the So-So-Goi a new name, too—Shoshone. The Shoshone traded with the hunters and trappers, who were little cause for concern since they were few in number and only passing through.

But then people who called themselves Mormons came to the northern valley. The Mormons were looking for a place where they, too, could live well. They were many in number, and they stayed, calling this place Franklin. The newcomers cut down trees, built cabins, fenced the land to keep in livestock, plowed the meadows for crops and hunted the remaining game. They even changed Big River’s name to Bear.

At first, relations between the Shoshone and the Mormons were cordial. The settlers had valuable things to trade, such as cooking pots, knives, horses and guns. And the Shoshone knowledge of living off the land was essential when the Mormons’ first crops failed. 

But eventually, the Shoshone “became burdensome beggars” in the eyes of the Mormons, writes Kenneth Reid, Idaho’s state archaeologist and director of the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, in a new summary of the massacre for the U.S. National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. “Hunger, fear and anger prompted unpredictable transactions of charity and demand between the Mormon settlers and the increasingly desperate and defiant Shoshones. The Indians pretended to be friendly, and the Mormons pretended to take care of them, but neither pretense was very reassuring to the opposite party.”

In Salt Lake City, the territorial commissioner of Indian affairs was well aware of the growing discord between the two peoples and hoped to resolve it through treaty negotiations that would give the Shoshones land—somewhere else, of course—and food. Conflict continued, however, and when a small group of miners was killed, Army Colonel Connor resolved to “chastise” those he believed responsible—the Shoshone people living in the ravine in the northern valley at the confluence of a creek and the Bear River.

Pointing below Cedar Point, Parry says, “My grandmother told me that her grandfather [Sagwitch’s son Yeager, who was 12 years old and survived the massacre by pretending to be dead] told her that all the tipis were set up right here in the ravine and hugging the side of the mountain.” He continues, “Most of the killing took place between here and the river. Because the soldiers drove the people into the open and into the river.”

A group of Shoshone people from Wyoming, photographed in 1870. (Library of Congress)

In 2013, the Idaho State Historical Society began efforts to map and protect what may remain of the battlefield. The following year, archaeologists Kenneth Cannon, of Utah State University and president of USU Archeological Services, and Molly Cannon, director of the Museum of Anthropology at Utah State, started investigating the site.

Written and oral accounts of the events at Bear River suggested the Cannons would find remains from the battle in a ravine with a creek that flowed into the river. And soon they did find artifacts from the post-massacre years, such as buckles, buttons, barbed wire and railroad spikes. They even found traces of a prehistoric hearth from around 900 A.D.

But their primary goal, the location of the Shoshone-village-turned-killing-ground, proved elusive. There should have been thousands of bullets that had been fired from rifles and revolvers, as well as the remnants of 70 lodges that had sheltered 400 people—post-holes, hardened floors, hearths, pots, kettles, arrowheads, food stores and trash middens.

Yet of this core objective, the scientists found only one piece of hard evidence: a spent .44-caliber round lead ball of that period that could have been fired by a soldier or warrior.

The Cannons dove back into the data. Their team combined historic maps with magnetometer and ground-penetrating-radar studies, which showed potential artifacts underground, and geomorphic maps that showed how floods and landslides had reshaped the terrain. That’s when they found “something really exciting,” says Kenneth Cannon.

Molly Cannon uses ground penetrating radar in the search for the location of the Bear River massacre. (Courtesy of Ken Cannon)

“The three different types of data sources came together to support the notion that the Bear River, within a decade of the massacre, shifted at least 500 yards to the south, to its present location,” he says.

The archaeologists now suspect that the site where the heaviest fighting and most deaths occurred has been buried by a century of sediment, entombing all traces of the Shoshone. “We had been looking in the wrong place,” Kenneth Cannon says. If his team can get funding, the Cannons will return to the Bear River valley this summer to resume their search for Bia Ogoi.

Though the exact site of the village is still unknown, the massacre that destroyed it may finally be getting the attention it deserves. In 2017, the Idaho State Museum in Boise will host an exhibit on the Bear River Massacre. And the Northwestern Shoshone are in the process of acquiring land in the area for an interpretive center that would describe the the lives of their ancestors in the Bear River valley, the conflicts between native people and European immigrants and the killings of 1863.

This is a story, Parry says, that needs to be told.

Editor's Note, May 13, 2016: After publishing, two corrections were made to this story. First, a sentence was clarified to indicate that archaeologists found evidence of a prehistoric hearth, not a dwelling. Second, a sentence was removed to avoid the implication that the scientists are looking for or collecting human bones as part of their research.

About Sylvia Wright

Sylvia Wright is a science writer and photographer based in Davis, Calif. She tells stories about the work of researchers in the American West.


The Mountain Shoshone

Recent discoveries show ancient peoples lived in the mountains of what’s now northwest Wyoming, probably in significant numbers. Some or many of these people were most likely ancestors of today’s Shoshone.

While sources generally agree that the subculture of mountain-dwelling Shoshone came to be called Sheepeaters, scholars prefer Mountain Shoshone as the more accurate term. By the mid-1800s, they were regarded as largely separate from the horse-owning, buffalo-hunting bands that roamed much of what are now southwestern and central Wyoming and came to be known as the Eastern Shoshone.

The Mountain Shoshone hunted bighorn sheep in the mountains, along with deer, elk and many smaller mammals. They also ate fish and insects. In his book on the Mountain Shoshone, amateur archaeologist and historian Tory Taylor of Dubois, Wyo., cites ethnologist J. H. Steward, who wrote in 1943 that Shoshones gathered, dried and stored crickets, cicadas and grasshoppers.

The Mountain Shoshone also gathered a large variety of plants for food or medicine. Taylor, taking as his guide the current presence of alpine plants in the northern Wind River Range, suggests they probably ate mountain sorrel, spring beauty, marsh marigolds, wild strawberry greens, wild chives and 14 varieties of berries, along with cattails, burdock, dandelion roots and greens plus more than 50 other native plants.

They crafted ladles from sheep horns and built conical log dwellings, usually called wickiups—some of which still stand—and were pedestrians who probably used dogs for hunting and packing.

In prehistoric times, there may have been many Mountain Shoshone, as evidenced by dense assemblages of projectile points and other tools found high in the Absaroka Range of northwest Wyoming. Above 10,000 feet elevation in the Wind River Mountains, the discovery of whole villages—including the remains of wickiups—shows that living in the mountains, probably in summer, was common among prehistoric people.

Shoshone-associated artifacts found at these villages include teshoas—knives used by Shoshonean women—soapstone vessels and chert, quartzite and obsidian projectile points of the desert tri-notch, cottonwood triangular and rose-spring style. About ten or twelve years ago, in a mountain meadow near timberline in the Wind River Mountains, one member of a team that included Tory Taylor found a rare soapstone carving among many other Shoshone artifacts near a major source of soapstone. Archaeologists have also found items often associated with other tribes as well as the Shoshone, including metates and manos—mortar-and-pestle stone tools—used for grinding food.

Some sources suggest that because the Mountain Shoshone had few or no horses, they were impoverished compared to their equestrian relatives. It’s not clear whether the supposedly “low-caste” Sheepeaters, as they came to be known, were actually poor and ragged, and thus disdained by whites and Indians alike. This may only have been a cultural distortion.

Poverty may not have been why most Mountain Shoshone lacked horses. In rough country, horses are less versatile pack animals than dogs, and also weren’t necessarily an advantage in an environment where game animals were grazing just over the next ridge, rather than miles away across the plains.

Mountain Shoshone crafts

The Mountain Shoshone tailored clothing from sheepskin and other animal skins. Historian David Dominick reports that they were said to be expert tanners and furriers, trading their sought-after sheepskin robes for buffalo robes and other Plains Indian products.

Working soapstone was another important Shoshone craft. Archaeologists have found bowl fragments and occasional intact bowls in shapes resembling flowerpots, round casserole dishes and smaller vessels the approximate size of a teacup. Pipes, sometimes decorated with engravings, are either tube-shaped, onion shaped—in profile resembling a small vase—or elbow-shaped. Only a few beads have been discovered, ranging from pea-size to quarter-size.

Mountain Shoshone also manufactured bows from the horns of mountain sheep, sometimes from a single large horn, more often from two. White explorers, including Capt. Meriwether Lewis, described these bows in detail in their journals, with close attention to their construction and ornamentation.

The bows apparently were powerful and deadly. Tory Taylor recently made a sheep horn bow with help from Tom Lucas, a white Wind River Reservation native and craftsman of museum-quality replicas. When Taylor tested his new bow, he reported, “[i]t performed sweetly.”

Sheep horn bow manufacture is uncommon because few Shoshone or whites know how to make them, and also because suitable horns are rare. However, residents of the Wind River Reservation practice a variety of other traditional crafts, including beadwork, hand-tanning leather from game animals, making drums and wooden bows. At present, few non-natives are learning these skills, possibly because there is no procedure in place to facilitate this.

An evolving name

Anthropologists now suggest that band names of a variety of Shoshone groups—“Sheepeater” is only one example—began as transitory labels denoting economic activity and locale, and only later became attached, sometimes inaccurately or even pejoratively, to specific groups.

During the first half of the 20th century, ethnologists and linguists noted that Shoshone used a variety of food-names to refer to each other. Sheepeater, Tukudeka in the Shoshone language, was one of a half-dozen or more such terms. These names referred to the wide array of animals and plants that different people might hunt or gather at one time or another. Food-names may also have applied to the residents of regions where certain plants or animals predominated.

Historian David Dominick reported that in the late 1950s Sven Liljeblad, a linguist at Idaho State College, interviewed Northern Shoshone at the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho about these food names. An interviewee identified as W. G., age 65, told Liljeblad, “Just whatever they [other Shoshone] ate at that time is what I called them. We could even call them ‘coffee-drinkers.’” Dominick mentions five food-names in addition to Tukudeka.

Thus, by what may have been common practice, an extended family harvesting seeds became known as “seed eaters” to other Shoshone who saw what they were doing. A group who hunted rabbits was called “rabbit eaters.” When a group moved to a different area, the name changed. For example, if they moved to an area where pine nuts were abundant, they became known as “pine-nut eaters.” This is probably the genesis of the name “Sheepeater,” which described what almost any Shoshone might have been doing, or possibly, where they lived.

Vagueness and confusion about who the Sheepeaters were and are seems to stem from relatively few, but powerful misinterpretations combined with differing observations that took hold early in the history of white encroachment and continued through time. For example, Dominick cites the conflicting reports of fur trader Capt. Benjamin Bonneville and mountain man Osborne Russell, both from 1835. Bonneville found Shoshone in the Wind River Mountains and described them as “a kind of hermit race, scanty in number [and] … miserably poor.” By contrast, Russell saw “a few [Shoshone] Indians” in Yellowstone Park, “all neatly clothed in dressed deer and sheepskins of the best quality and seemed to be perfectly contented and happy.”

The food label slowly became a group label that eventually stuck. Early white trappers and explorers, and later military men and Indian agents, gained the impression that the Sheepeaters were a distinct sub-tribe of mountain-dwelling Shoshone whose predominant food source was mountain sheep. White men who saw groups of Shoshone in the mountains referred to them as Sheepeaters, no matter what game animal was most plentiful in the area.

Starting in the mid-1800s, Sheepeater guides were engaged by parties of white explorers in the areas in and around what became Yellowstone National Park. Capt. William A. Jones refers to Sheepeaters several times in his report of a reconnaissance expedition to northwest Wyoming in 1873. This suggests that the idea of a subgroup, called Sheepeaters, had already begun to coalesce around earlier misinterpretations of the name.

Anthropologist Susan Hughes proposes that the label continued to evolve along with changes in tribal structure brought on by the presence of whites. Before the reservation era began in the 1860s, the most organized political unit among the nomadic hunting and gathering Shoshone was the winter village. Such villages generally contained no more than 15 families.

Alliances formed among these villages, and during warmer seasons larger groups gathered for hunting or social functions, Hughes notes. Leadership and group structure were informal and transitory until Indians of all nations, the Shoshone included, gathered and traveled together to provide better protection from groups of whites. Indians who negotiated with U.S. government officials about treaties and other matters were usually tribal leaders. Hughes suggests that organized bands with formal, permanent leadership appear to have been a late development and in part, a white man’s construct.

Adding to the confusion, some Sheepeaters—the Northern Shoshone—hunted on the west side of the Tetons in present Idaho, while others—some of whom became known as Eastern Shoshone—lived farther east—sometimes in the Green River Valley and sometimes in the Wind River Valley in present Wyoming. Northern Shoshone groups ended up on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho the Eastern Shoshone, on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. To some extent, these may have been separate groups from earlier times, although all Shoshone people were and are related, regardless of the diversity of their ancestors’ hunting and gathering locales.

When Shoshone bands first came to the Eastern Shoshone Reservation, they generally lived in separate areas, elder John Washakie says now, and that pattern continued for some time. Distinctions “became more blurred” as people moved into modern housing, he said. Currently, the Shoshone who now identify themselves as Sheepeaters trace their lineage to one ancestor or another who was a Sheepeater, such as Togwotee, the well-known guide, for whom Togwotee Pass is named.

There’s no doubt that ancient peoples lived in the mountains of northwest Wyoming and on the western side of the Tetons, probably in significant numbers. Drive lines, hunters’ blinds—either pits dug in the ground or stone structures—and remnants of corrals at the foot of short cliffs all point to the herding and slaughter of mountain sheep. It’s also certain that Shoshone food-names began as transitory labels denoting economic activity and locale and evolved into something more like the identity of a definite group.


USS Shoshone (ID-1760)

USS Shoshone (ID-1760) was a transport that served in the United States Navy in 1919.

Shoshone (ID-1760), first U.S. Navy ship of the name, was built in 1911 by Bremer Vulkan at Vegesack, Germany, and operated as a passenger-cargo ship by the Hamburg-America Line as SS Wasgenwald. Wasgenwald was chartered for World War I service by the United States Army on 26 October 1917 from the Custom House, New York, and used as a depot collier with the name SS Shoshone.

Shoshone was acquired by the U.S. Navy for use as a troop transport, assigned Id. No. 1760, armed, and placed in commission as USS Shoshone on 19 February 1919. She was attached to the Cruiser and Transport Force and, between February and July 1919, made two voyages to St. Nazaire, France, returning to the United States with American troops coming home from World War I service in Europe.

Shoshone was decommissioned at Norfolk, Virginia, on 5 August 1919 and returned to her owner. As SS Shoshone, she resumed commercial service, and around 1919 was renamed SS Manoa.

On 11 June 1921, Canada Steamship Lines introduced the 5,070-ton passenger and cargo ship MANOA (ii) into a new service between Montreal, Charlottetown and St John's that partly revived the Quebec Steamship Co's pre-1915 service between Montreal, Quebec and Gaspé. Because of the number of ports, the round voyage took 17 days, as “Canadian Railway & Marine World” announced that June: –

"Canada Steamship Lines will place its twin-screw steamship MANOA in service this summer, between Montreal, Quebec, and Gaspé, Que, Charlottetown, PEI, and St John's, Nfld, making seven round trips of about a fortnight each, leaving Montreal 11 and 28 June, 15, 2 July and 19 Aug, and 6 and 23 Sep. Her stateroom accommodation includes parlor rooms with baths en suite.

"The route will be along the south shore of the St Lawrence, round the Gaspé peninsula, and Percé Rock, and thence via Charlottetown to St John s. The passenger rates will range as follows, according to accommodation, first-class fares including berths and meals. To Gaspé, one way, $30 to $70 steerage, $20 no round trip fares to Gaspé. To Charlottetown, one way, $45 to $85 round trip, $75 to $150 steerage, one way, $30. To St John's, one way, $70 to $100 round trip, $125 to $175 steer- age, one way, $40. There will be local rates between Gaspé and Charlottetown, Gaspé and St John's and Charlottetown and St John's. Children under 5, if occupying seats at table, will be charged 50c a meal, but no charge for passage or berth children 5 years and under 12, half fare and over 12 full fare. All fares exclusive of war tax."

The Quebec Steamship Co's second ship of this name, that of a mythical golden city in British Guiana, the MANOA was a former Hamburg-American liner that had been taken by the Americans as a war prize. She could carry 100 passengers and had also run briefly in the Quebec Steamship Co's West Indies trade, between December 1919 and April 1920, before moving to the Compagnie Canadienne Transatlantique Ltée for a new service between Montreal and Le Havre, with Saint John as winter port. This joint venture of Canada Steamship Lines and Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, known also as the Fracanda Line, had been formed on 12 April 1919, with two ships from each partner carrying passengers. But it had operated only thirteen round voyages for passengers plus several voyages by chartered cargo ships before closing down in January 1921.

By October, “Canadian Railway & Marine World” was reporting her acceptance on the St John's run: –

"Canada Steamship Lines' s.s. MANOA, which was to have made her last trip of the season from Montreal to Newfoundland, made additional sailings, Oct 13 and 29, and will make a third additional sailing, Nov 17, in response to requests from Newfoundland residents. The usual calls were made at Gaspé, Que, and Charlottetown, PEI. It is stated that the MANOA will make a series of special winter cruises to the south."

She would remain the mainstay of the Montreal-St John's trade for the next five years. Whether the “special winter cruises” were to be run by Canada Steamship Lines or she was to be chartered back to Furness Withy & Co is not clear. Canada Steamship Lines had sold its Quebec Steamship subsidiary, for whom the MANOA had once operated, two seasons earlier and was no longer involved in the southern trades.

After dropping the MANOA's Gaspé calls, Canada Steamship Lines was able to change her schedule from every 17 days to fortnightly fixed day of the week departures. These left Montreal every other Saturday at 4 pm for Charlottetown and St John's, with a return from St John's on the following Saturday. Calling at Charlottetown each way, she arrived at the other end of the line on Thursday, a 5-night voyage each way. CSL also sold these sailings as a 12-day cruise, from $90 inside or $135 in an outside cabin, and described it in its tourist brochure as follows: –

"A cruise in cool latitudes on the 6,000-ton (ocean type) s.s. MANOA. In this 12-day sea trip on the placid waters of the St Lawrence River and Gulf, you will find all the fascination of an ocean voyage – without any of the monotony and discomfort of a sea trip. A Boat Trip of 2,000 miles through the lower St Lawrence and Gulf of St Lawrence from Montreal to St John’s, Newfoundland, and return."

In 1922, these Gulf of St Lawrence cruises featured in a new brochure entitled “Two Wonderful Cruises” that also included the weekly Saguenay cruise of the CAPE ETERNITY.

In 1923, Canada Steamship Lines lost $25,000 on its Newfoundland service but in 1924, as well as the MANOA, it ran the WINONA to St John's, giving it a weekly cargo service and fortnightly passenger service. At the end of that summer, however, the MANOA was replaced by the 2,816-ton Norwegian-flag cargo ship LISGAR COUNTY, brought in from the County Line. It also maintained a winter service from Saint John, New Brunswick, where it had been using the MAPLEDAWN in 1922.

Canada Steamship Lines sold the MANOA to the Boston Iron & Metal Co in June 1926. That company in turn sold her back to her original owners, the Hamburg-American Line. Canada Steamship Lines meanwhile continued its Montreal-St John's service, but for cargo only, with winter sailings from Saint John, using chartered British freighters for the most part.


History: The Northwestern Band of Shoshonee

The Northwestern Band of Shoshone is a branch of the larger group of Shoshone people that cover Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada. When whites began encroaching on the area that is now Utah in the 1840s, three different groups of Northwestern Shoshones lived there. The misnamed Weber Utes lived in Weber Valley near present-day Ogden, Utah. The Pocatello Shoshones dwelt between the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake and the Bear River. A third group lived in the Cache Valley along the Bear River. They called themselves kammitakka, which means “jackrabbit-eaters.”

The Shoshone people were very mobile and skilled at hunting and gathering, and with each change of the season they migrated to obtain the food and other resources they depended on to survive. In the early autumn, the Northwestern Shoshones moved into the region near what is now Salmon, Idaho, to fish. After fishing was over, they moved into western Wyoming to hunt buffalo, elk, deer, moose, and antelope. They sun-dried the meat for winter and used the hides as clothing and shelter. In the spring and summer, the Northwestern Shoshones traveled around southern Idaho and throughout Utah. During these months, they spent their time gathering seeds, roots, and berries and socializing. In late summer they dug roots and hunted small game. Around late October, the band moved into western Utah and parts of Nevada for the annual gathering of pinyon nuts (or pine nuts), a nutrient-rich food that formed an important part of the Shoshone diet. The wintering home of the Northwestern Shoshones was in an area around what is now Preston, Idaho. Based on these migration patterns, experts have claimed that the Northwestern Shoshones were among the most ecologically efficient and well-adapted Indians of the American West.

By the 1840s, the Northwestern Shoshones had adopted some aspects of Plains Indian culture, using the horse for mobility and to hunt large game, such as buffalo. The Shoshone way of life came under attack when Anglo emigrants began to transverse Shoshone lands on the trails to California and Oregon in the early 1840s. The arrival of the members of the LDS Church in 1847 brought added pressure. The Mormons initially settled in the Salt Lake Valley but quickly spread into the Weber and Cache Valleys, entering Shoshone lands and competing for vital resources. Conflict between the Shoshones and white settlers and emigrants became a serious problem in the late 1850s and early 1860s. Responding to the destruction of game and grass cover and the unprovoked murder of Indians, Shoshone leaders like Chief Pocatello retaliated with raids on emigrant trains. After the discovery of gold in Montana in 1862, more and more whites traveled over Shoshone land. In response to incidents of violence committed by the travelers, some Shoshones, including a group led by Chief Bear Hunter of the Cache Valley, began to raid wagon trains and cattle herds.

Violence erupted on January 29, 1863 when Colonel Patrick Edward Connor and about two-hundred army volunteers from Camp Douglas in Salt Lake City attacked Bear Hunter’s people. A group of 450 Shoshone men, women, and children were camped on the Bear River twelve miles from Franklin, Washington Territory (now Idaho). In the early hours of the morning, Connor and his men surrounded the Shoshones and began a four-hour assault on the virtually defenseless group. Some 350 Shoshones were slaughtered by the troops, including many women and children. This was one of the most violent events in Utah’s history and the largest Indian massacre in U.S. history.

In the aftermath of the Bear River Massacre, white settlers moved unopposed into traditional Northwestern Shoshone lands. As American settlements grew around them, the few remaining Northwestern Shoshones lost their land base and could no longer sustain their traditional nomadic lifestyle. In 1875, after years of struggle and starvation, many Northwestern Shoshones converted to Mormonism and settled on a church-sponsored farm near Corrine, Utah, an area where the Shoshone had traditionally wintered. The farm was short-lived, as federal officials, responding to unfounded rumors that the Shoshones were planning an attack on Corrine, expelled them from the farm and attempted to force them onto the newly founded Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho.

Some Northwestern Shoshones did move to Fort Hall, but those who wanted to remain in their traditional homeland were left without a reservation and had to search for alternative means to secure a land base. Beginning in 1876, using rights guaranteed under the Homestead Act, the Northwestern Shoshones acquired and settled land between the Malad and Bear rivers. The Malad Indian Farm was eventually discarded due to its insufficient size and the difficulty of irrigating in the area. The Northwestern Shoshones considered moving back to the Cache Valley but instead moved to a new farm in the Malad Valley just south of Portage, Utah. They named the farm after their admired leader Washakie, and the settlement, which was managed by members of the LDS Church, was home the Northwestern Band of Shoshone for the next eighty years. Tragically, in the summer of 1960, representatives of the LDS Church, who mistakenly believed that Washakie had been abandoned, burnt the Shoshones’ houses to the ground in preparation for the sale of the church farm. The church later gave the band 184 acres of land near Washakie to atone for this mistake.

Until 1987, the Northwestern Band of Shoshone was administered by the federal government as part of a larger Shoshone tribe. That year the government recognized the tribe as independent, and the Northwestern Shoshones adopted a constitution and tribal council. In addition to the Washakie land, the tribe holds some private lands held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is attempting to purchase more land to solidify its home in Utah. The Northwestern Band of Shoshone is quickly developing and, in so doing, is reasserting its rightful place in the history of Utah.


You've only scratched the surface of Shoshone family history.

Between 1969 and 2003, in the United States, Shoshone life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1969, and highest in 1993. The average life expectancy for Shoshone in 1969 was 31, and 40 in 2003.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Shoshone ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.


Etchoe, Battle of

The Battle of Etchoe took place during the Cherokee War of 1760-61 between the Cherokee and the English. That war, a subconflict within the French and Indian War, began when whites murdered a number of Cherokees who were returning home from aiding the Virginians in their contest with the French. These murders, in addition to the mistreatment of some Cherokee women by the commander of Fort Prince George, led Cherokee warriors to attack whites on the Carolina frontier. A delegation of chiefs went to Charles Towne (Charleston, S.C.) to prevent the outbreak of a formal war, but Governor William Henry Lyttleton took the delegation hostage and returned them to Fort Prince George. There he demanded that the Cherokees turn in 24 warriors involved in the frontier killings before he would release the hostages.

Oconostota (Great Warrior), who had been a recent delegation hostage, led an attack on the fort to obtain the release of the Cherokees. The commander of the fort was killed, leading the soldiers to massacre the hostages. Col. Archibald Montgomery subsequently led 1,600 men in an attack on the Cherokees. After relieving Fort Prince George, Montgomery marched toward the Cherokee Middle Towns in western North Carolina.

On 27 June 1760, about eight miles south of Etchoe (near the present-day town of Otto at the deserted Cherokee town of Tessante Old Town), the first Battle of Etchoe took place. Oconostota ambushed Montgomery, killing 20 of his men and wounding 70, including Montgomery himself. Montgomery returned to Charles Towne to begin a new assignment, but meanwhile the Cherokees captured Fort Loudoun in present-day Tennessee. In response, Col. James Grant, a member of Montgomery's earlier expedition, led 2,400 men in a decisive blow against the Indians.

On 10 June 1761, about two miles south of Tessante Old Town and the site of the earlier battle, a second Battle of Etchoe took place. After nearly six hours of fighting, the Cherokees retreated and Grant went on to attack the Middle Towns, which had never been invaded before. Grant's expedition destroyed 15 towns and 15,000 acres of crops and drove 5,000 Cherokees into the remote mountains. Peace was signed with the Cherokees in September 1761.

David H. Corkran, The Cherokee Frontier: Conflict and Survival, 1740-1762 (1962).


Shoshone Religion

Ms. Nelson says religion varied among the Shoshone. The people may not have religious leaders, but “individuals in the tribe will seek out supernatural connections through visions and dreams.” As Ms. Nelson writes:

“The Shoshone had a wide range of religious beliefs and practices. Some bands believed the sun created the heavens and the earth while others attribute life to the mythological characters Coyote or Wolf or a spirit called ‘Our Father.’”

The encyclopedia says Eastern Shoshone adopted the Sun Dance and the Native American Church.

Top image: ‘Shoshone Indian and his Pet Horse’ (1858-1860) by Alfred Jacob Miller. Source: Public Domain

Mark Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a former newspaper and magazine writer and copy editor who's long been interested in anthropology, mythology and ancient history. His hobbies are writing and drawing.


Watch the video: 55th Annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days, Fort Washakie, WYOMING