The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre - Vol. 1

The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre - Vol. 1

The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre - Vol. 1

The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre - Vol. 1

Excerpt

After almost four decades of research and writing about the Northern Shoshoni and Bannock Indians, it seems worthwhile to tackle the subject of the conflicts between these western tribes and white emigrants and settlers during the twenty-five-year period from 1840 to 1864. The ever-increasing hostility finally led to a climactic massacre of 250 Northwestern Shoshoni by some glory-seeking California Volunteers on January 29, 1963, at Bear River in Washington Territory. It is first necessary to identify the various bands of Shoshoni, define the original boundaries of their country, and briefly describe their lifestyle and culture. Their homeland formerly extended from South Pass on the east to the Boise area and Carson Valley on the west. Within this vast region of the Great Basin and the Snake River plains lived seven major Shoshoni groups: the Eastern Shoshoni under Chief Washakie; the Fort Hall Shoshoni and their close neighbors, the Bannock; the Lemhi Shoshoni; the Boise and Bruneau Shoshoni bands; the Northwestern Shoshoni; the Gosiute Shoshoni; and, finally, the Western Shoshoni of Nevada. Some minor attention is paid to the Northern Paiute of western Nevada as well.

In researching documents relating to the hostilities that developed between the Indians and white travelers and settlers during this period, some new material has been uncovered that, it is hoped, will add significance and interest to the subject. Distinguishing between myths and facts about Indian and white massacres is one of the objectives of this study. I have adopted a chronological approach, examining the events of each year and generally following the pattern of first discussing Boise and Bruneau Shoshoni interaction with whites in the western Idaho section of the Oregon Trail and then to the Fort Hall . . .

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