A History of Utah’s American Indians, © 2000
“The Northwestern Shoshone,” pp. 25–72
In early historic times the Shoshone Indians were a large nation of Indians who lived and traveled over an extensive territory that included parts of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming. Usually groups of extended families traveled together in varying numbers according to the season and the purpose of their gathering. Groups came together in larger encampments at different times during the year to trade, socialize, and sometimes for protection against enemies.1 The Northwestern Shoshone Indians have always lived in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho. They were nomadic gatherers, hunters, and fishermen.
The Eastern Shoshone lived in the Wyoming area. Chief Washakie was recognized as the head chief among most of the Shoshone bands at the time of the entry of the Mormons into the Salt Lake Valley.2 Washakie was known throughout the western country as one of the most able chiefs and had several sub-chiefs under his leadership, each of whom had between 300 and 400 Indians in their bands. Chief Pocatello was the leader over the Fort Hall area Shoshones. Other Northwestern Shoshones traveled under the leadership of Chief Sagwitch Timbimboo, Chief Bear Hunter, Chief Sanpitch, and Chief Lehi. They believed that a friendly relationship was possible with the pioneers. As a result, the Mormon pioneers and their leaders were initially welcomed into the Shoshone country. Warning of the Latter-day Saints’ wagon train reached Great Basin area tribes in advance of their arrival into the Salt Lake Valley. The reports characterized the LDS as friendly and said that they were not known to have shot at Native Americans. On July 31, 1847, Shoshone tribal leaders, including Chiefs Sagwitch and Bear Hunter, met with LDS leader Brigham Young in Salt Lake City to advance their territorial claims.3
The Northwestern Shoshone traveled with the changing seasons. They looked upon the earth not just as a place to live; in fact, they called the earth their mother–it was the provider of their livelihood. The mountains, streams, and plains stood forever, they said, and the seasons walked around annually. The Indians believed all things came from Mother Earth.
Linguistically, the Shoshone, Paiutes, and Bannocks are related under the term Neme (the People). Prior to white contact, the Neme groups formed small extended-family groupings that traveled extensively as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to survive in the harsh environment of the Great Basin desert. Horses, guns, white contact, and disease destroyed this social organization, resulting in more formal tribal identities and band loyalties. Pre-contact identities did exist according to the influence of horse ownership and resource use. What became the Northwestern Shoshone bands were part of those groups that had traveled largely on foot in a delicate balance of living off the land and that, when horses became available, joined the buffalo hunting groups in annual harvests. The expression So-so-goi means “those that travel on foot.”4 The old ones called the Shoshone by that name. Before horses became available to the Northwestern Shoshone, they used dogs and manpower to carry their belongings. Small children learned at an early age that they were expected to share in the burden of moving. They were given small bundles to carry on their backs. Later, Ute and Navajo Indians came into the Northwestern Shoshone territory for trading purposes, exchanging horses for skins and pelts.5 With horses available, travois were adopted, which made moving and travel much easier. Mothers and grandmothers rode the horses. The children rode on top of the goods piled on the travois. Tepee poles served as poles for the travois. When the poles became too short from wear after being pulled new poles were cut.
Shelter for the Northwestern Shoshone Indians was provided by the use of tepees, green houses, and sometimes caves. The tepee cover typically was made from ten to twelve buffalo hides. The cover was stretched over from twenty to twenty-five poles erected in a cone shape. There was a smoke hole left at the top which had flaps designed to regulate the hole according to wind direction. The tepees were well ventilated and cool in the summer and, with a fire, were warm in the winter. On the floor of the tepees were backrests and bedrolls. Clothing, medicine bags, shields, bags, and other articles hung from poles. Tepees were decorated with drawings of animals, birds, or abstract designs. Great dreams or acts of bravery could be recalled in drawings on the tepee.
A spiritual leader would pray and dedicate the new dwelling. He would normally pray before the poles were covered that the occupants would have a happy Life together in the dwelling, that no evil thing would enter through the door opening, and that the dwelling would always be open to the hungry, fatherless, and aged. Since the people were nomadic, the tepee was a very practical dwelling because it could be easily transported.
In the summer, dwellings were often made from green leafy branches placed over a pole framework.6 Willows, quaking aspen branches, reeds, and tall grass such as wheatgrass were used in making summer shelters. These dwellings were temporary and could be left behind as moves were made to other areas. Caves also were used as shelters and temporary dwellings. Bath houses or sweat lodges were erected to be used as places for spiritual experiences as well as for personal hygiene.
Rabbit skins braided like rugs were made into quilts.7 Buffalo robes served as blankets and, in some cases, as floor coverings. Deer hides, elk hides, and bear skins also served as bed coverings. Dried moss also could be woven into blankets. Woven sagebrush and juniper bark as well as boughs and cattail fluff served as mats and mattresses.
Campsites were selected to be near fresh water and in a location protected by trees, willows, shrubs, or brush. Sagebrush was often used as camp windbreaks. The winter campsite where the Bear River Massacre occurred is an example of how terrain was used as a weather barrier. The deep embankments sheltered the camp from wind and the stand of willows in the river bottom protected against heavy snows.
Shoshone people were not wasteful: they gathered no more than was needed for their use. They killed just enough game for their family and camp, and almost every part of the animal was used as food, clothing, or shelter. The Shoshone never killed game for recreation or for the pleasure of killing.
Shoshone women loved to socialize as they went in groups to gather seeds. Willow baskets, winnowing pans, and hitting sticks were used. As they gathered seeds such as sunflower, wild rice, and mustard, they shared news, traded recipes, and sang. Gathering seeds was a hard task at times. When seeds were scarce, a woman might spend an entire day gathering enough for only one family meal. Digging sticks were used for digging out roots and bulbs. Vegetables were normally plentiful. Ground potatoes, camas, sego lily, wild garlic, cactus, and other bulbs and roots were harvested. Berries of all kinds were picked in the mountains and fields. Wild honey was gathered in the fall.8
Eggs were gathered in the marshes and fields. At times, fish were an important part of the Shoshone diet. The people would move into the area of Salmon, Idaho, to fish. Spears, fishing poles, and baskets were used in catching fish. The Shoshone caught and dried salmon for winter use.
Meat was a very important item in their diet. Many Shoshone people traveled in western Wyoming and Utah to hunt buffalo, elk, moose, and pronghorn. The meat was sun dried for winter use. It was very important to get the big game, for it meant the difference between feast and famine. It also meant clothing and shelter for the people.
In western Utah and eastern Nevada, remnants of sagebrush corrals could be seen as late as the 1930s. These corrals were used by Shoshone hunters. They would drive deer into the corrals to facilitate their capture for food and clothing. Larger animals like moose and elk were harder to kill. Sometimes they were driven over cliffs or chased into large pits near watering holes.9 Rabbit hunting was done during summer and winter. Rabbits could be snared, shot with bow and arrow, or clubbed in deep snow. Squirrels, woodchuck, and other small animals also were harvested. Ants and locusts were utilized as food. Ducks, geese, grouse, doves, chukars, and many smaller birds also served as food.
In the spring, summer, and fall the Northwestern Shoshone traveled around southern Idaho, western Wyoming, and Utah. In the spring many plants were harvested and eaten fresh, as food supplies always ran low over the course of the winter. Cattails were eaten when they first appeared in the spring; parts of the stock are edible and the roots were dried and ground into meal and prepared as mush or into cakes. Wild onions and “Indian Carrots” were eaten both raw and cooked. Wild roses produced blossoms that were eaten raw, and the rose hips or red fruit were eaten raw for a snack. Cacti saved many Indian lives when food became scarce after a long winter. Cactus plants were sometimes dug from the snow. The buds and sometimes the joints were eaten in spring. The plant was baked in firebed ashes, peeled, and eaten.
During the summer and fall months the Northwestern Shoshone spent their time gathering seeds, roots, and berries for family use. Seeds like the mustard and sunflower were ground into meal and eaten as mush or were sun dried and prepared as bread. The mustard seeds were also mixed with water and used as a drink; mustard seeds from the Idaho area were considered to be not as bitter as those in other places. Berries like chokecherries, buffalo berries, serviceberries, gooseberries, and strawberries were eaten fresh or sun dried for storage. Most berries were very sweet and could be used as a beverage when mixed with water.
Late summer was root digging time. Bitterroot can look very similar to noodles and when boiled becomes very soft. It was cooked with meat to make soup. Sego lily and other bulbs were also used in stews and dried for use in the winter. Ground potatoes look like very small potatoes and have a taste similar to sweet potatoes. Also in late summer and early fall other plants were gathered to store over winter. Thistle grows along streams and in the fields. It has tall stalks with gray-green prickly leaves and purple flowers. The stalks were picked and peeled; they are crunchy and have a taste similar to that of celery. Squash and corn were both introduced to the Northwestern Shoshone by the Utes. Both could be dried for winter use and were boiled together to make a meal.
Around the middle of October, the Northwestern Shoshone people traveled into western Utah and eastern Nevada to gather pine nuts. The nuts were an important part of their food supply and were a rich source of protein. The Indians prepared pine nuts in a variety of ways, and they were an excellent food. The nuts were ground up as meal, roasted in their shells, and even eaten as dessert.
The pine nuts usually were winnowed and ground once they were gathered. In order to winnow, a quantity of nuts was placed in a winnowing pan. The nuts were tossed vertically so that they could be caught as they fell. The wind blew the pine needles and empty shells away and the good nuts fell back into the pan. The nuts were cooked until they started popping and the shells were then cracked. The nuts were winnowed again to remove the shells and then placed on a flat or concave rock and ground to a fine meal. The meal was used in making gravy, soups, in baking, and in salads or deserts.
Drinks were prepared from a variety of plants. Common drinks were peppermint tea, rose tea, and Mormon (or Brigham) tea. Rabbitbrush, sagebrush, and milkweed had parts that could be chewed as gum.
Tanned animal skins were the primary clothing material. Men and women worked to produce clothing all year round. The skins from elk, deer, and antelope made the best dresses or suits. As many as seven hides from the pronghorn antelope, three or four hides from deer, or two large elk hides were required to make one dress. Dresses and suits were decorated with shells and animal claws and teeth. Bones and porcupine quills were also used. Sinew from animals was used for thread. Sagebrush and juniper bark were used to make capes, blouses, and leg coverings.
Moccasins were made from deer, elk, and moose hides. Rawhide was the preferred material for the soles, being much longer wearing and better able to protect the feet when walking through rocks and rough places. Sometimes moccasins were lined with juniper bark.
Head coverings or bonnets were made from animal skins. Rabbit and bear skins were commonly used. Lynx caps were made for younger children. The skin was tanned very carefully, so that when worn the head covering looked like a natural lynx. Bonnets were decorated with owl, hawk, and eagle feathers. Eagle feathers were considered the finest of all. Weasel skins were used on eagle bonnets and sometimes tied on braids. Sometimes white weasel skins served as neckties. Beaver, otter, and mink skin were often used as hair ties.
A headdress known as a roach was traditionally worn by men and fancy dancers. This headdress was made primarily from porcupine hair, with the base being made from deer hair. The winter hair of the deer was best to work with, as it was longer and stronger. When clothing made from skins got wet it had to be removed and vigorously rubbed and stretched until it dried to a soft condition. It was best to actively wear wet moccasins until they became dry to maintain their softness.
In early times marriage was arranged for nearly all Shoshones. Sometimes an older man would go to the home of parents of a newborn girl and ask permission to marry their newborn daughter at some future date. If the parents liked the man and knew him to be a good provider, they were sometimes agreeable. Many times the parents were not agreeable and refused the arrangement, especially if they knew the man to be cruel or a poor provider.
In another approach to marriage, a man would send a gift to the desired girl’s parents. It might be a horse or several horses; it could be skins of all kinds, deer meat, or other food supplies showing him to be a good provider. If the parents agreed, the marriage was arranged. This arrangement was not considered a wife purchase; rather, it was considered compensation for the loss of her services to her parents.
Sometimes to add interest to the marriage process they would stage a tug of war. The bride to be would be dressed in well-made buckskin clothing that would not tear or fall apart. The mother of the girl and the prospective mother-in-law would come together, with the girl between them. Tugging on the girl would begin, with the mother pulling one way and the mother-in-law pulling the opposite direction. The winner was the one who pulled the girl across the line. The girl was required to go with the winner.10
A marriage ceremony in those days was conducted by a spiritual leader. He gave the couple rules to live by, among which they were counseled to be true to their mate at all times. They also were counseled to be chaste in thought and remember their marriage vows. They were told to avoid breaking up their marriage. Sometimes the spiritual leader would pull hair from both the bride and groom and tie it together. The bound hair was taken by a relative to a hiding place. If later the couple could not get along and wanted to divorce, they would first have to find the hair and untie it.
Indian children, like all children, loved to play. Their toys were made of materials available to them such as sticks, rocks, clay, and balls made of stuffed rawhide. A skill they liked to develop was tracking. Play for the children was only done during short periods between fulfilling their family obligations. The children were expected to work hard and to share the family burdens. Love of children was a dominant characteristic of the Northwestern Shoshone and physical punishment was never employed.
Older children had the responsibility of caring for their younger brothers and sisters. They helped dress, comb hair, feed, and play with the younger children. Other duties included gathering and carrying wood, water, berries, and seeds. They were expected to help care for animals if they had any and help with the cooking when they were older. They were responsible for caring for elderly grandparents and for running many errands. The children were considered to be responsible and important members of the family unit, and they were taught to love Mother Earth as the provider of all things. Most of the time, Indian children developed strong bonds with each other which remained with them throughout their lifetime. This was particularly true between family members.
Indian children were taught at an early age to be hospitable. They were taught that guests were assumed to be cold, tired, or hungry, and they were to be fed. Upon departure, a guest was to be given a gift, with nothing expected in return. Children were taught to honor and respect their parents and grandparents and were advised that wisdom and knowledge come with age. Teaching and storytelling fell mainly to the elderly grandparents. The oral history, legends, and customs of the tribe were passed on in this way.
Many Shoshone bands occasionally would gather together and compete with each other in a variety of games. The Franklin, Idaho, area was centrally located in the Shoshone country. Bands of the Northwestern Shoshone gathered in this area for meetings and winter sports as well as for summer fun and games. They took part in foot races, horse races, a game similar to hockey, dancing, and other activities. They also made flutes, drums, and darts. In the winter, dried deer hides were used for sleighs. In the summer, the children would dig foxholes along the banks of the Bear River and play Indians at war. Over the years the foxholes got larger and deeper as the children played their games. (It has been mistakenly reported in history books that such children’s play holes were rifle pits quickly dug as defensive pits against Colonel Patrick Connor’s soldiers at the site of the Bear River Massacre.)11 They would also fish in the river.
Winter time was storytelling time. Stories were told to children with a purpose more important than just recreation. Since the Indians kept no written record, many stories embraced the history of their people and were repeated many times to ensure accuracy. Children were good listeners and were taught never to interrupt the storyteller. Children were expected to stay awake during the storytelling. If one fell asleep during the telling, the storyteller stopped speaking and ended the session. Stories and tribal history were memorized by young people.12
The Bear River Massacre
The Franklin, Idaho, campsite was a natural protected place for the Shoshone Indians to spend their winters. Land along the Bear River there was in a natural depression and was thick with willows and brush that provided shelter from the wind and winter blizzards. In addition, there were natural hot springs to provide warm water. With adequate fuel and natural protection, their tepees were kept warm and the people were content.
Often, members of the Eastern Shoshone band and those from Pocatello’s band would assemble at the Franklin area with the Northwestern Shoshone for meetings, fun, and games. They would compete with each other for prizes. In early January 1863 one such gathering was held–a Warm Dance. The object of the Warm Dance was to drive out the cold of winter and hasten the warmth of spring. If Colonel Connor had known of the Warm Dance custom, he could have had the opportunity to kill thousands of Indians instead of hundreds.
Following the celebration of the Warm Dance and after the visiting bands of Shoshone had left, the Northwestern group began settling into their normal routine. It was at this time that several incidents of trouble arose between the Shoshones and the white settlers of the area. A few Shoshone troublemakers stole some horses and cattle belonging to the white settlers. They headed north and along their way killed one of the cattle for food. The three men involved were known as One-Eyed Tom, Zee-coo-Chee (Chipmunk), and Qua-ha-da-do-coo-wat (Lean Antelope).13
About the same time, some miners and Shoshone got into a fight and the miners were killed. The Shoshone involved were not from the Northwestern Shoshone group but from Chief Pocatello’s band. The miner s horses and belongings were taken into Pocatello’s part of the country. These murders of George Clayton, Henry Bean and, in a separate incident, John Henry Smith were the catalyst for action. Colonel Conner decided to move against the Northwestern Shoshone as a result, and Chief Justice John F. Kinney of Utah Territory issued a warrant for the arrest of Chiefs Bear Hunter, Sagwitch, and Sanpitch.14
The third incident that the Shoshone believe led to their massacre was a fight between some white youths and Shoshone youths. Two whites and two Shoshones were killed. Again, the Shoshones involved were not of the Northwestern Shoshone band. To the white authorities and settlers, Indians were Indians, and there was never any inclination to distinguish between the locals and those who came from other bands.
Because of these three incidents, many of the Northwestern Shoshone were getting restless and concerned. They felt that trouble was brewing and could soon break out. The settlers around Franklin, Idaho, were beginning to call the Indians “stealing savages” and “beggars.” They did not seem to understand that the Indians were also human beings with feelings and emotions like anyone else. Many Indians were becoming bitter and defensive and began to feel that what was theirs was being taken away little by little. The territory which had been theirs for untold number of years was being taken away. The encroachment of the white settlers into their lands threatened their very existence. They felt that there would soon be no place for them to pitch their tepees. They were starting to feel like prisoners in their own country. Many began to feel like trapped animals who would have to fight for their lives to the end.15
On the night of January 27, 1863, an older man by the name of Tindup foresaw the calamity which was about to take place. In a dream he saw his people being killed by pony soldiers. He told others of his dream and urged them to move out of the area that night. Some families, believing the dream of Tin-dup, heeded his warning and quickly moved. As a result, the lives of those families were spared from the terrible massacre that soon followed.16
In the meantime, a white friend of the Shoshone–the owner of the grocery store in Franklin, Idaho–came to the camp and informed them that the settlers of Cache Valley had sent an appeal to Colonel Connor in Salt Lake City to come and settle the Indian problem. It was apparently the desire of the settlers to completely get rid of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone. Because of the information from the white friend, the Shoshone knew the soldiers were coming. The Shoshone, however, fully expected they could and would negotiate a peaceful settlement of the problems with Colonel Connor. No preparations had taken place to defend their position against an assault. What the Shoshone did not know was the murderous intent of the colonel to kill the entire band of men, women, and children. Connor is reported to have said “nits make lice,” meaning that it was his intention to kill all Indian children and babies before they had a chance to grow to adulthood.
Chief Sagwitch, being an early riser, got up as usual on the morning of January 29, 1863. He left his tepee and stood outside surveying the area around the camp. The bluff above the river to the southeast appeared to be covered with a steaming mist. As he continued to watch, the mist appeared to lower along the bluff. Suddenly Sagwitch realized what was happening–the soldiers from Camp Douglas in Salt Lake City had arrived. Planning to meet and negotiate with the soldiers, but not knowing exactly what to expect, Sagwitch started calling to the sleeping Shoshone. The Shoshone quickly gathered their bows, arrows, and tomahawks. A few men had rifles and a very limited number of cartridges. Some of the Shoshone were so excited that they gathered whatever was in sight to use as shields and weapons. Some picked up their wovenwillow winnow pans and baskets as if to use them for shields.
Chief Sagwitch shouted to his people to refrain from initiating any hostile action. It was his intention to meet with the military people and negotiate the delivery of those few troublemakers to the military. He thought the military man was perhaps a just and wise leader. He did not want the Shoshone band to suffer tribulation and perhaps death for the actions of a few renegade visitors. Many of the Indian men ran toward the river and dropped into the snow. They knew the people of the band were not guilty of anything, but experience had taught them to be wary and ready to defend themselves. They had experienced other situations where they had had to fight for their lives. Some had dropped into the holes the children had dug along the river bank. Never did these grown men foresee the need to be using children’s play foxholes to await a possible military conflict.17
Negotiation was never in the mind of Colonel Connor and his troops. Connor had not the remotest inclination or desire to conduct an investigation. It probably never entered his mind to determine the guilt of those responsible for the trouble. In his mind, if there was Indian trouble, all Indians were the perpetrators. Whether the problem was caused by one Indian or two, the whole band—men, women, and children—were guilty by association.18
Connor had given the orders early. The soldiers came down the bluff and charged across the river, firing their rifles as they came. It was their intention from the very beginning to kill every living person and destroy the Shoshone camp. The Shoshone tried to defend themselves, but arrows and tomahawks did little against the rifles and side arms of the soldiers. The Shoshone men, women, children, and babies were being slaughtered like rabbits, butchered by Colonel Connor and his troops.
The massacre started early in the morning, most of it along the riverbanks and among the willows. The Bear River, which had been lightly frozen a short time earlier, was now starting to flow. Some Shoshones were jumping into the river and trying to escape with their lives by swimming across. The snow was now becoming red with blood. The willows that were being used as hiding places were bent down as if in defeat. The old dry leaves which had been clinging to the willows were now flying through the air along with bullets.19
Ray Diamond, a nephew of Chief Sagwitch, was successful in his escape attempt. He swam across the river and found shelter in the hills to the west. He lived to be more than one hundred years old, and he told and retold of the Bear River massacre of his people to the younger generations until the time of his death.20 Some Shoshone women jumped into the river and swam with babies on their backs. Most of them died. One Shoshone woman named Anzee-chee jumped into the river and took shelter under an overhanging bank. By keeping her head above water under the riverbank, she was saved. When it became safe for her to do so, she watched the massacre from her hiding place while trying to tend the wounds she had received to her shoulder and breast. Anzee-chee carried the scars from her wounds for the rest of her life and would often show them to the young Shoshone children as she related the account of the massacre to them. She also told of losing her own small baby to the river during her escape. The child drowned and floated down the river among other dead bodies and blood-red ice. One man swam with his buffalo robe upon his back. Soldiers shot at him, but the bullets appeared not to penetrate the buffalo robe.
Those few Shoshone still alive called to Chief Sagwitch to escape with them. They no longer had any means to defend themselves. Their arrows and few bullets had long since been spent. Most of their people had been killed. After having two horses shot from under him and receiving a bullet wound to his hand, Sagwitch escaped by riding a horse across the river. Another man reportedly escaped across the river by holding onto the tail of Sagwitch’s horse.
A most cruel, inhumane killing was that of Chief Bear Hunter. Knowing that he was one of the leaders of the Northwestern Shoshone Band the soldiers whipped him, kicked him, tortured him in other ways, and finally shot him. Through all this the old chief did not utter a word. To him crying and carrying on was the sign of a coward. Because he would not die easily or cry out for mercy the soldiers became very angry. One of the military men stepped to a burning campfire, where he heated his bayonet. He then ran the bayonet through the old chief’s head from ear to ear. Chief Bear Hunter went to his death a man of honor. He left children behind and a wife who witnessed the event from a hiding place in the willows.
Yeager Timbimboo, whose Shoshone name was Da-boo-zee (Cottontail Rabbit), was a son of Chief Sagwitch. He was about fifteen years old at the time of the massacre. He remembered the event well and lived to tell about it. He retold the story several times a year and relived the scene in his memory. Over the years, the history of this event became imprinted upon the minds of friends, relatives, and grandchildren. The grandchildren memorized the story and could repeat it without deviation. Yeager told of being very excited and apprehensive, as any young boy would have been during the fighting. He felt as if he was flying all around from here to there without knowing a destination. He dashed in and out among the whizzing bullets but luckily was not hit. He heard cries of pain and saw death all around him. The young Shoshone boy kept running around until he came upon a little grass tepee that was so full of people that it was actually moving along the ground. Inside the grass hut Da-boo-zee found his grandmother, Que-he-gup. She suggested they go outside and lie among the dead. She feared the soldiers would set the grass tepee on fire at any moment. The boy agreed and they crept out of the hut to lie among the dead and pretend to be dead. “Keep your eyes closed at all times’ his grandmother whispered, “maybe in this way our lives will be saved.”
Yeager Timbimboo and his grandmother lay on the freezing killing field for many hours. At the end of the fighting, the soldiers were moving among the Indians in search of the wounded, to “put them out of their misery.” Yeager, being a curious boy, could not keep his eyes closed; he just had to see what was taking place. His curiosity nearly cost him his life. A soldier came upon him and saw that he was alive and looking around. The soldier stood over Yeager, his rifle pointing at the young boy’s head. The soldier stared at the boy and the boy at the soldier. A second time, the soldier raised his rifle and the young boy felt certain it was his time to die. The soldier lowered his rifle but a moment later raised it for the third time pointed at the boy’s head. For some reason, the soldier could not bring himself to pull the trigger. He lowered his rifle and walked away. What went through this soldier’s mind will never be known. Perhaps a power beyond our comprehension stopped this soldier from killing young Yeager so that the true story of this massacre could be written. Yeager Timbimboo got the scolding of his young life. His grandmother reminded him that he was supposed to remain motionless with his eyes closed and pretend to be dead. He had disobeyed and it had nearly cost him his life.21
Soquitch (Many Buffalo) Timbimboo was a grown man at the time of the massacre. He was the oldest child of Chief Sagwitch. His memory of the event was very vivid. After having nothing left with which to fight, Soquitch jumped on a horse with his girlfriend behind him. Bullets were fired in their direction as they tried to escape to the hills. One of the bullets found its mark and the Indian girl fell dead off the horse, shot in the back. After determining the girl was dead, Soquitch kept going and finally reached safety. He dismounted from his horse and sat down by an old cedar tree that was concealed by some brush. He proceeded to watch the aftermath of this terrible massacre which Colonel Connor and the white settlers later called the “Battle of Bear River.” To this young man, this was the cruelest event he had ever witnessed. The Shoshone camp which hours earlier was thriving, peaceable, and quiet had vanished from the face of the earth.
Toward evening the massacre field was nearly silent, except for the cries of the wounded soldiers being carried away. The Northwestern Shoshones who had escaped watched from the hills as the soldiers left with their wagons, upon which they had put their dead and wounded. Official reports from the army listed fourteen soldiers killed during the fighting and four more died later from wounds received. As they drove off, the wagon wheels made a very mournful sound as they squeaked along the frozen snow. The Shoshone had done some damage to the military with what little they had to fight with. The Shoshone fought bravely, mostly by hand.22
The military said the fighting lasted four hours. The Shoshone claimed that the military was there the whole day. Soldiers spent the remainder of the day murdering those who were found alive on the battlefield who “were killed by being hit in the head with an axe … to end their suffering in mercy.” Individual soldiers also took whatever they could find of Shoshone property abandoned by those who escaped. After the Shoshone were massacred, the soldiers burned their tepees and gathered their food and clothing and also burned it.23
By nightfall, the Shoshone who had escaped the carnage were cold, wet, and hungry. There was no food to be found. The soldiers had done an efficient job of scattering all of the food on the ground and setting fire to it. All of the tepees except one were burned to the ground. The lone standing tepee had been shot through so many times it looked as if it were made of net. This was the tepee of Chief Sagwitch and his family. After the soldiers had left, Chief Sagwitch made his way to his tepee and found his wife lying dead. There beside her was an infant daughter who was still alive. Sagwitch requested others who were with him to take the baby girl from her mother. They then put her in a cradle board and hung it on the branch of a nearby tree. He hoped that a kindhearted settler would find the infant girl, care for her, and raise her. He knew that without nourishment from her mother and under the bleak conditions they faced the infant would otherwise have no chance to survive.
The Shoshone could not believe what had just taken place. Sagwitch was a very shocked and stunned man, stricken and sad at heart. He mournfully gazed at the scene of the carnage. Just the day before, the camp had been a happy place. He remembered the many seasons the Northwestern Shoshone had spent in and around this favorite place on the Bear River. The Shoshone realized that they could not hold proper burial services for their dead. As an alternative, many of the bodies were thrown into the still-flowing Bear River. A water burial was better than leaving the bodies for animals to eat. At this time, a sad reality of life was indelibly impressed upon Sagwitch: there were different worlds in which people lived. One group was greedy and seemed to want everything, while the people in his world wanted only to live and travel around their aboriginal lands as they had done from time immemorial. One group made their wishes and desires come true by making themselves conquerors. His group, because of the other’s genocidal policies, became part of the vanishing Americans.
As darkness fell upon the camp, a large fire was seen nearby in the hills to the west. A voice was heard to call, “If there are any more survivors, come over to my campfire and get dry and warm.” The surviving Shoshone in the area gathered at the campfire. They were tattered and torn in body and in spirit. Almost every one of them had suffered wounds. All of the men, women, and children were in a dazed condition. Their eyes were glazed and their faces looked hollow. They were just starting to realize the magnitude of the tragedy which had so recently taken place. An old medicine man moved among the wounded and sick doing what he could without much success.
As they warmed themselves at the fire and dried their clothes, some related the stories of their escape. A small Shoshone boy by the name of Be-shup (Red Clay) told of his survival. He had chosen to remain in the small wheatgrass tepee that was moving along the frozen ground. When he finally left the tepee, he was cold and scared and wandered around in a daze until he was found by a relative. In his cold little hands he carried a bowl of frozen pine-nut gravy. Food was so precious to this little six-year- old boy that he had clung to his bowl all day long. The boy was a son of Chief Sagwitch. His father told him that his mother was dead and his baby sister was left in a tree in hopes that she would be picked up and cared for. At this moment in his life, the little boy could not utter a word or cry?he was bewildered, frozen in grief, and in shock.24
The morning after the massacre, the few Shoshone who remained looked at their destroyed village in horror and disbelief. They now saw things they had not noticed the night before. The ground was covered in various colors. There was red from the spilled blood, black from the fires of their tepees and food, and brown from the many seeds and nuts which had been scattered over the ground. There were also blue and purple areas made up from their dried berries. There were also partly burned tepee poles remaining from the fires the soldiers used to keep warm. After observing the depressing scene, the remaining group decided to make their way to other members of the Northwestern Band who were wintering in the Promontory, Utah, area.
Word of the massacre at Bear River quickly spread to other Indians across the region. Northwestern Shoshones living near Brigham City, Utah, soon became aware of the tragedy. Two Shoshone women rode from Brigham City to Promontory to spread the news to other tribe members. They had gone into mourning for their dead friends and relatives. Poe-be-hup Moemberg and her friends cut their long braids and slashed the flesh of their arms and legs. This was the custom after the death of close relatives and friends.25
A few days after the massacre, Chief Sagwitch, being a man of great honor, wanted the horses stolen from the white settlers to be returned to them. He sent his oldest son, Soquitch, along with a cousin, Hyrum Wogo-saw, and a nephew, Ray Diamond, to retrieve the stolen horses. They went into Chief Pocatello’s area and returned with the horses. The stolen cattle had been killed and eaten and thus could not be returned. The horses were returned to the settlers.
The surviving Shoshone told of their buffalo robes and many other things being taken by the soldiers for souvenirs and for sale. Animal pelts were taken for trade. Tomahawks, stone axes, willow baskets, headdresses, bows and arrows, and much more were taken.
Thirteen survivors of the massacre who in later years lived out their lives at Washakie, Utah, were a living historical source of this tragic event. They were Chief Sagwitch Timbimboo, Soquitch Timbimboo, Yeager (Daboo-ze) Timbimboo, Ray Diamond, Peter Ottogary, Hyrum Wo-go-saw, Frank Timbimboo Warner, Tin-dup and family, Chief Bear Hunter’s widow (Bia-Wu-Utsee), Towenge Timbimboo (wife of Soquitch, married after the massacre), Anzee-chee, Techa-mo-da-key, and Mo-jo-guitch. There also were other survivors who lived at places other than Washakie.
Today a monument stands near the site of this infamous massacre.26 Many Shoshones (and now many others) believe that it should proclaim the brutal facts of the massacre of several hundred men, woman, and children of a peaceful village.
The Bear River Massacre was very important to southern Idaho and Utah. It marked the ending of some real conflict between whites and Shoshone in the territory. The decimation of the Indian population allowed the settlers and farmers to encroach further into traditional Shoshone territory without fear. The Northwestern Shoshone were almost totally annihilated. U.S. Army troops under the command of Patrick E. Connor had slaughtered nearly the entire band of Shoshone because of some trouble between a few Shoshone and the encroaching whites.27
A few years after the massacre, the Shoshone people asked Chief Sagwitch and his cousin Ejupa Moemberg to ask Mormon church president Brigham Young for assistance, as they were starving to death. While they were gone, an uncle who was left in charge sold little Be-shup to a Mormon family for a quilt, a bag of beans, a sheep, and a sack of flour. The Mormon family raised him and gave him the name of Frank Warner. He was sent to school, where he quickly learned the English language among other studies. He graduated from the old Brigham Young Academy and taught penmanship and reading to farm families. He drove his buggy from town to town and farm to farm throughout Cache Valley. He became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served two missions to Montana and Canada. The Shoshone people of the area took great pride in his accomplishments. Proudest of all were Chief Sagwitch and his family. The chief came to believe that if Shoshone children were taught and educated early in life, they could succeed in the white culture.
In the years following the massacre of their people at the Bear River the nomadic and traditional ways of living of the Shoshone people gradually began to decline. The areas where they had hunted and gathered from time immemorial were now mostly lost to them through the encroachment of the white people. Although beaten and somewhat disorganized, the tribal members still had to find ways to survive. There were families to feed and shelter to be provided. Hunting, fishing, and gathering had to continue, although in a more limited way. Contact between the Shoshone and the white settlers inevitably increased. Some of the male tribal members began working for settlers on their farms. Many Shoshone were now being baptized into the Mormon church by its missionaries.
John Moemberg, who was a tribal leader and a cousin to Chief Sagwitch, had learned the English language while working for white farmers in the Brigham City, Utah, area. During the Bear River Massacre, he was living in Brigham City and thus escaped the carnage. Moemberg was a large man and showed great intelligence in dealing with the whites. He was closely associated with, and was an interpreter for, Sagwitch.
In 1874 Chief Sagwitch and John Moemberg were camped in Cache Valley along with a group of Indians. It became apparent to them that if they were to survive as a people their only recourse was to take up some land and begin farming like the white settlers. After discussing how to proceed, they decided to send a message to Brigham Young and ask him for help in this endeavor. Sagwitch and Moemberg traveled to Wellsville in Cache County to seek the help of Frank Gunnell, a true friend to the Indians. There was no man in the acquaintance of the Indians for whom they had more respect. Gunnell in his concern for his Indian friends wrote to Brigham Young concerning their request.
In response to the letter written by Gunnell, Brigham Young sent George W. Hill to visit the Indians and see what he could do for them. From Hill’s journal comes the following extract: “On Tuesday, May 26, 1874, I went to Franklin, Idaho, to organize the Indians and set them to work under Bishop Hatch. In May 1874, we commenced to gather the Indians to Franklin, Oneida County, Idaho, thinking a settlement there would be a good place to gather them. But, things not working satisfactory, it was abandoned in the Fall, after spending a good deal of time and money.
The area in the vicinity of Promontory and Corinne, Utah, had been an ancestral place of the Shoshone where they spent the winter seasons. Because of the unavoidable changes in lifestyle facing the Indians, this area now had become more of a permanent settlement. Missionaries from the Mormon church had befriended, baptized, and were teaching the Indian people how to farm and to become self-sufficient. The Deseret News of July 22, 1875, published an article titled “Civilization Among the Indians” in which it detailed George W. Hill’s work with the Indians and his hope that the colony at the Box Elder County Cooperative Field would succeed. The Deseret News editors agreed wholeheartedly that this was the best path to follow.
Many of the male tribal members had gained some farming experience from working as hired hands for some of the area’s white farmers. With the help of some Mormon missionaries, the Shoshone labored long and hard in the year 1875 to begin farming. They raised wheat, pumpkins, melons, corn, and potatoes. They tended and watched over their crops, pleased that what they had planted was growing well. Harvest time was approaching and the Shoshone were getting ready to gather their crops. Sadly, however, the Shoshone would not be permitted to do so.
The Shoshone were informed by some white friends that the Corinne Telegrapher and an unscrupulous group of Corinne workers were plotting to get them removed from their farming area. The group was spreading a false rumor that the Shoshone were preparing to attack the town of Corinne and reported this baseless rumor to the military stationed at Fort Douglas. The military, in turn, sent a contingent of soldiers to Corinne to investigate.
An article entitled “The Indian Ejectment,” written by George W. Hill, was published in the Deseret News, August 27, 1875, detailing what happened:
Statement made by George W. Hill regarding the Indians who were driven from their grain fields and lodges on Bear River, August 12. For the last three years, Members of Sagwitch’s band of Shoshones and of other tribes of Indians, had been begging of me and others to find them a location where they could have a farm and go to work and till it and live like white men. I had been requested to attend to this matter and had selected a spot of ground between the Bear and Malad Rivers, about twenty miles north of Corinne and entirely out of the way of any settlements. Finding the labor would be too arduous to bring the water out of the Malad River in time to irrigate this seasons crop, I, with the Indians, moved about ten miles south to a field where the water had been taken out by the citizens of Bear River City.
The Indians of the camp belonged principally to the Shoshones and had frequently expressed the desire to become citizens of the United States; in fact, had paid taxes in Franklin, Idaho Territory, in 1874, the taxes being levied on horses, which was the only taxable property they owned and for which they hold the receipts.
The Indians had some hundred of dollars worth of work in clearing out the ditch, making a new dam, repairing the fences of the citizens, and here a temporary camp was established and crops were planted.
This season, the Indians put in about one hundred acres of wheat, about twenty five of corn, five and one-half to six of potatoes, three to four of melons, peas, beets, and other vegetables, which, at the time of the commencement of the excitement, were just ready for harvest. In fact, the Indians were in the fields with two reapers and had just commenced harvesting when the first news of trouble reached them. This was Tuesday, August 10.
Being told by an Indian, who had been to Corinne, that soldiers were there and that the captain wished to see Mr. Hill, I started with two chiefs and my informant for that place. On the way, I met a party of gentlemen consisting of Captain Kennington, Mayor Johnson of Corinne, interpreter L. DeMars and a newspaper correspondent, and with them returned to our camp. On reaching my tent, I invited several chiefs to be present and the following conversation ensued:
Captain Kennington: Do you characterize this report of the Indians being about to attack Corinne as a lie?
Hill: I do. There is not a particle of truth in it.
Johnson: Do you mean to say that a large party of Indians did not leave camp last night to attack Corinne.
Hill: I mean to say that there was not one Indian left my camp last night to go to Corinne or anywhere else.
Johnson: Were you up and awake all night, that you know what your Indians were doing?
Hill: I was up until the Indians had all gone to sleep and their ponies were scattered all over the prairies. It was utterly impossible for the Indians to have gathered up their ponies and started for Corinne without me knowing it; besides, they never leave camp without informing me.
Kennington: There was a guard placed at the Malad River bridge last night, and it was reported to me this morning that a large body of Indians came down and when they saw the guard, they whirled and ran.
Hill: It was entirely a mistake on the part of the guard. I wake easily and there could not be a stir in camp without my knowing it.
Johnson: Do you mean to say that your Indians have not threatened to attack Corinne?
Hill: I mean to say that no Indian had threatened to attack Corinne, and I challenge anyone to give the name of any Indian who has done so, and I will immediately send for him and have the matter settled. If you, Mr. Johnson, do not know the name of the Indian, I will go with you through the camp and you can point him out to me, and I will at once have him brought in and the matter forthwith investigated. (Mayor Johnson could neither give the name nor point out the Indian.)
Reporter: Do these Indians all belong to the Mormon Church?
Hill: Yes, and a great many that are not here.
Johnson: How many Indians do you have here?
Hill: I do not know; I have not counted them.
Kennington: What are the Indians who come from distant reservations doing on the farm?
Hill: Some have come to trade buffalo robes and buckskin for ponies; others visit their relatives on the farm, in the same way other people visit their friends and relatives.
Reporter: When are they going away?
Hill: A large party has already gone. The remainder calculate on going tomorrow.
Johnson: Have you a large party here from Fort Hall?
Johnson: Not from Humbolt?
Hill: None that I know of.
Johnson: Have you not had large parties from these places?
Hill: No, Never that I know of. Occasionally a small party of four or five would come in, stay probably a day or two, and go home again.
Johnson: What claim do the Indians put forward to the land?
Hill: Simply that they were the original owners and had never sold it. They make no other claim whatsoever.
Johnson: Had they ever attempted to enter any land in the U.S. Land Office?
Hill: Not that I know of.
Johnson: How much land do they claim?
Hill: Just what they need for cultivation and to pasture their ponies, not to infringe on the whites.
Johnson: Did the strange Indians from the other parts put in the same claim?
Hill: I do not know. I have never asked them.
Kennington: Where are the visiting Indians from?
Hill: There are Shoshones from Wind River and a party of Bannocks from the north of Crow Country.
Kennington: I have been informed that the Indians have cut away the dam on which Corinne depended for water. Was this the case?
Hill: It is only two miles from the dam over level country. Will you ride over and look at it? You will find that the dam has not been touched, and, like other statements, this assertion was without the least foundation in truth.
Kennington: I will take your word for it.
Hill: If you will go out on the farm, you will see the Indians hard at work harvesting, with many of the squaws and papooses gleaning, and others scattered all over the camp, while the Indian horses are grazing in every direction over the prairie as far as you can see. Did you ever, Captain, hear of Indians going to war under such circumstances?
The next day, Wednesday, Major Briant, accompanied by Captain Kennington and interpreter DeMars, visited the camp. The Major delivered his message, which was to the effect that all the Indians must leave the farm and go to their reservations before noon the next day, or he would be compelled to drive them there from by force.
I told the major that all the Indians who belonged to reservations had already gone, and that the Indians that were on the farm were residents and had no reservation to go to as they never belonged to any. I also asked him if he would telegraph, to the Department at Washington, a statement that I would make and wait until an answer was received, which I would accept as an ultimatum, allow the Indians to remain where they were and on the evening of the morrow, I would meet him at Corinne to know what the reply was. The Major said he would send the statement for me, but the order must be obeyed.
I replied, “If these orders are to be carried out, I have nothing further to say. The Indians want to be citizens, cultivate the land, obey the laws and seek their protection; but, if I understand right, If they do not leave their ungathered crops and are not off the farm by tomorrow at noon, It will be equivalent to a declaration of war’ The Major said he supposed so. Sagwitch came forward and asked what he had stolen, whom had he killed, what meanness had he done, that the soldiers had come to drive him away from his crops.
DeMars here began to translate incorrectly what Sagwitch had said to Major Briant, and I asked him to translate correctly or say nothing. The Major said he would be as gentle as he could. I replied, “What that term means, we well understood”. This was about three o’clock in the afternoon. Immediately after, I called the Indians together, told them that it would all come out right and advised them to return to their former haunts. By sunset, not an Indian could be found in the camp. All had scattered out to wander from place to place as in former days, leaving their crops, for which they had toiled so industriously and on which they depended for their Winter’s food, neither cut nor garnered.
The next day, after the departure of the Indians, a man who styled himself a “State Marshall’ with three or four others of Corinne, rode into camp and stole everything to which they took a fancy. Among other things they took the chickens belonging to Sagwitch, 11 beaver traps and a muskrat trap, copper kettles, axes and rabbit skin robes, in which the Indians wrapped their children.
Once again the Shoshone were displaced–a high price to pay for civilization as expounded by the whites. The whole Corinne affair was just another cruel act by some greedy whites against the Shoshone. What a punishment for trying to learn the ways of so-called “civilized people.”
After their expulsion from their farm by the military, some of the Shoshone moved a few miles north to the Elwood, Utah, area to be with other Shoshone who were already living there. Others continued to travel farther north to the Fort Hall reservation, to stay with relatives there for a period of time. Some returned to Cache Valley to wander in areas they had previously called home. It has been reported that, upon a request by the Shoshone, a letter was sent to the President of the United States concerning their expulsion from the Corinne farm. This, however, proved to be a useless endeavor.
The Shoshone, however, were not abandoned by their good friend George Hill. During the winter of 1875–76, Hill visited the Shoshone in the various groups residing in different places to give them encouragement and instructions. He encouraged the Shoshone to again settle in an area between the Malad and Bear Rivers, east of what is now the city of Tremonton, Utah. In the spring of 1876 some of the Shoshone entered land under the Homestead Act, hoping that by doing so they would avoid another Corinne experience.28 At about this time, Isaac Zundel was called by the LDS church to labor with the Indians. The objective was to teach the Indians farming and industrial practices, encouraging them to become self-sufficient and industrious citizens.
Other white families were called by the LDS church to settle among the Indians on what had now become known as the Malad Indian Farm.29 Again, crops were planted. It has been reported that in 1877 there was one hundred acres of wheat planted along with smaller acreage of vegetables. In addition, lumber was being obtained with which to build houses. Early in 1878 Moroni Ward with his family moved to the Malad Indian Farm to provide further spiritual and cultural guidance as well as instruction in farming. Machinery had been acquired and land ownership had been established.
Even though the farming experience in this area generally had been very positive, there were still some drawbacks. Among them, the surrounding area was being gradually settled by white people, and attempts to obtain water from the Malad River for irrigation had proved to be unfeasible for a variety of reasons. Also, the size of the land holding was considered to be too small for the number of Indians that were expected to inhabit the farm. Consideration was being given to once again settle the Indian band in Cache Valley. This idea was discarded in favor of moving the Indians and the farming operation to an area called the Brigham Farm in the Malad Valley. This location was still in Utah, about twenty miles south of Malad, Idaho, and about four miles south of Portage, Utah.
The land was purchased from the Brigham City M and M Company, which at that time was managed by Mormon leader Lorenzo Snow. A house and a granary had already been built at a location on the farm, which was about two miles south of what was to become the permanent location of the Washakie settlement. In 1880, Isaac Zundel, who was assigned as president of the mission, moved into the house, and a few families of Indians camped around the home in their lodges and tepees. This area became the home of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Indians for the following eighty years. The settlement was named after the respected Shoshone leader Washakie.30
In the following year, 1881, the LDS church purchased additional farming land from the Merrill brothers of Portage just to the north of the farm acquired from the Brigham City M and M Company. Some of the buildings and the granary were moved about two miles north to the new site, which was to become the permanent settlement of Washakie.31
Under the direction of Isaac Zundel, Alexander Hunsaker, and Moroni Ward, the Shoshone at Washakie began to make some real progress. A canal carrying water from springs in Samaria, Idaho, had been started by farmers from nearby Portage. The LDS church acquired part ownership in the project for use on the Washakie farm. Shoshone Indians from the community pitched in and were responsible for much of the construction of the canal which was to bring water to Washakie for irrigation of farm crops. The canal remains in use today.
A sawmill and lumber business also was started. The first sawmill in the area was built by the Shoshone in the mountains near Samaria.32 The second sawmill was built in the Elkhorn Dam area of Idaho. The Shoshone worked very hard in the operation of the sawmills. Large quantities of lumber were manufactured. Profits from the mills were rein vested into machinery to manufacture lath and shingles. A wood planer also was purchased. Wood building products from the operation were being sold throughout the entire area. For the first time in their lives the Indian people began to profit from their labors, but continued success was not to be. First, they began to lose lumber from theft. Second, over a period of time, both sawmills burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances. The Shoshone believed that arson was the cause of the fires. This meant a loss of their investment as well as a great amount of lumber.33
The Shoshone community saw a need for additional building materials. As a result, a brick kiln was erected near a spring in the foothills of the mountains east of the Washakie settlement. The Shoshone who worked at the kiln scratched their names into a slab of rock adjacent to the kiln. They were Ammon Pubigee, Ona Johnny, Charley Broom, Quarrich Wongan, and James Brown. The Shoshone workers made and baked bricks in their kiln and a brickyard was established at the Washakie townsite. Some Shoshone became carpenters and bricklayers. Two large multi-level brick homes were the first to be built entirely by the Indians under the guidance of their white leaders.34
In addition to farming the land on the church farm, the Shoshone at Washakie acquired land in their own names under three separate acts of Congress. Under the Citizens Homestead Act of May 30, 1862, four Shoshone residents of Washakie acquired homesteads. Under the Winnebago Act of 1881, twenty-seven Shoshone acquired land. Under the Indian Homestead Act of 1884, twenty-five-year trust patents were issued by the United States in trust for six additional Shoshone residents. Three additional allotments of an unknown type also were issued, for a total of forty to Washakie residents.35
In a communal project, the Shoshone Indians at Washakie purchased a herd of sheep. It has been reported that at one time the herd numbered several thousand head. Profit from the sale of wool and lambs enabled the people to buy additional farm machinery and equipment. The sheep project came to an end, however, when many of the sheep were lost due to exceptionally hard winter weather and the loss of the remainder of the herd to theft.36
In 1882, just two years after settling the village of Washakie, a school was established. The first teacher was James J. Chandler. The first lessons taught to the Indian students were of necessity very elementary. Chandler taught the students nursery rhymes and simple songs, presumably to acquaint them with the English language. The students learned to read from a primer and to write their names. The students ranged in age from quite young to young adults. Among the early students between 1882 and 1900 were Willie Ottogary, Charlie Broom, Don Carlos Hootchew, Quarrich Wongan, Ona Johnny, James Brown, Neatz Broom, Eliza and Amy Hootchew, Eliza Ottogary, 0-ha-qa-sue, Mu-da-wa-a-ze, and Annie Comesevah. All of these students eventually became leaders in the community.
After Chandler, other teachers came to the Washakie school, including Lorenzo Hunsaker, Foster Zundel, William Anthony, and a Mr. Lillywhite, who probably came from the Salt Lake City area. J. Edward Gibbs came from nearby Portage and, after leaving the community as a teacher, maintained a lifelong relationship with the Indians. Following him was Caroline Perry, a good teacher who earned the respect of her students. Ivy Bird Hootchew, a student of Perry, recalled her school days at Washakie: “She was a good teacher; if there had been more like her, we would have amounted to something. Our teacher, Miss Perry, recognized our various talents and let us know we had wonderful gifts to give.”
A Miss Young came from Ephraim, Utah, around 1913. She was a very interesting person who took her teaching seriously. Her students were taught basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. She was remembered most of all for her musical talents: she played the piano and organ and had a beautiful singing voice. A Miss Harris came from nearby Portage and was quite well acquainted with the Indians and their customs. She was quite small in stature but nonetheless was able to handle any disciplinary problems which arose. Some of her students recall being chastised with her ruler. Virgil Atkinson came from Clarkston, Utah, and taught basic subjects, just as the previous teachers had done. At this time, most of the students dropped out of school after completing the third grade. Vida Ward, the daughter of LDS bishop George M. Ward, had grown up in the community and had the advantage of knowing her students well. Dolores Hoganson came from Logan, and teaching at Washakie was her first assignment after completing her college work.
In the 1920s a new Washakie school building was erected. It was an improvement over the old white church building which until this time had served for school classes. The building had one large room with modern desks as well as two storage rooms and living quarters for the schoolteachers. Many windows were built into the schoolroom, and a large bookcase where all of the books were kept was built into one wall. For the first time swings, slides, and other playground equipment were brought in and a sandbox was welcomed by the younger children. First through eighth grades were now taught in the school.
Mr. and Mrs. William Fowler were the first teachers in the new school. Students ranged in age from six years through the late teens. The curriculum began to resemble that of the other county schools. Alvin and Ida Harris from Portage were the second set of teachers to teach at the new school. They were well acquainted with many of the Shoshone in Washakie. In addition to teaching the basic subjects, emphasis was placed on public expression and speaking in front of the class. The telling of Indian stories, legends, and customs became an almost daily occurrence. Programs were prepared and presented to the community.
Legrand and Martha Horsley came from Brigham City and made school interesting and fun for the students. They made a special effort to get acquainted with all members of the village. Martha Horsley was an accomplished musician and had a beautiful singing voice; she taught more modern and popular songs to the students. The couple took the time to participate in community events and also arranged programs to be taken outside of the community to broaden the experience of the Shoshone students. As a result of their efforts, the students seemed to be progressing further and faster in their education. Ralph D. and Delsa Olsen had just married when they came to teach at Washakie. The young couple exhibited extraordinary interest in teaching their young students. They tried to make learning fun as well as a rewarding, successful experience. They tried to broaden the experience of their students by letting them see many things outside the community.
For years the community thrived, but population began to decline with the onset of World War II and the availability of better-paying jobs elsewhere. By the early 1940s so many had moved away from Washakie that the number of residents in the community dwindled to the point that a school in the community was no longer feasible. The few students remaining were bused to the school in Fielding, Utah.37
End of the Washakie Farm
The relationship between the Washakie Indians and the LDS church also began to decline in the 1940s. After seventy years of close relationship on the farms at Corinne, Elwood, and Washakie, the number of Shoshone families began to decline. Many of the younger people became involved in the world war. Older people found employment in the defense industries established to support the war effort. After the war few, if any, moved back, as their opportunities seemed better elsewhere. Involvement in the Washakie farm declined to the point that on December 31, 1959, only three Shoshone Indians were working on the project.
During the summer of 1960 most of the remaining dilapidated homes of the Shoshone, which appeared to be abandoned but were not, were burned to the ground in preparation for the sale of the church farm. Some Shoshone families had possessions in the homes such as appliances, bedding, and personal papers that were burned. This action resulted in bitter recriminations from some of the Shoshone, who believed the LDS church had defaulted on a promise that Washakie and the use of the farm would be there for the Shoshone in perpetuity. A relationship which began in 1874 had ended.
The Shoshone families whose homes were burned to the ground met in 1974 to discuss their losses when the farm was closed. They were asked to express themselves as to their feelings about the loss of their homes and what should be done to compensate them for their losses. The following are excerpts from that meeting, transcribed from a tape recording in June 1974.38
Testimony of Geneva Alex Pacheco
It was in June and I was scraping my deer hide at my home in Washakie, Utah, when I saw Mr. LaMar Cutler start a fire by Elias Pubigee’s home. The fire was coming toward my mother’s gooseberry patch and toward my home. Mr. Cutler’s fire was coming down the ditch and along the fence line. I asked Mr. Cutler what he was doing and he informed me that he had orders from Stake President Smith to burn all this down. I told him that it was too bad, but he was not going to burn my place up. I told him we were paying taxes on this property and it was ours. I further told Mr. Cutler if he wanted to burn something to go elsewhere and burn. We exchanged unpleasant words. I also told him not to set foot into my yard as there is a boundary line here. Again I told him to go and he said O.K. and moved his fire along the ditch past my place and over towards the canal. A few days later, Mr. Cutler came over and asked me for my mailing address. I gave it to him. About a week later, I received a letter from the church attorney, Mr. McConkie. The letter requested me to get out of my house by the 3rd of June of that year. It also stated for me to take all my lumber and anything else that was mine and move on. I still have the letter I received from Mr. McConkie. I also saw Everett Neaman’s old house burn down. It went up as if it was a gasoline fire. This home was burned by Vernon Lamb and Mr. Snow. Vernon Lamb also fenced our driveway up. We went to our home and could not get into our yard. He made us a gate. I do not know if we had any water rights, but when Fullmer Allred was at Washakie, he would let us water our garden with water from the canal. After Mr. Allred left, we didn’t see any more water.
Testimony of Leona Peyope Hasuse
We have always lived in Washakie. One summer we went on a visit to Bannock Creek, Idaho. While we were there, my mother got sick and died. Because two of my sisters live at Bannock Creek, my son Richard and I stayed longer at Bannock Creek after mother’s death. I told my son that we had a home at Washakie and were going back soon. Everything we had was in our home. We lived in the Kippie Norigan home. We came back to Washakie and would go back to Bannock Creek for visits. This was our way of life. We lived a few months here and a few months there. Washakie was always our home. We liked the celebrations on the Reservation, so spent the biggest part of each summer at Bannock Creek. When things quieted down, we always came home. During one of our visits at Bannock Creek, I was informed that my house had been burned down. I was informed by Amy Timbimboo.
As soon as I could, we drove to Washakie and viewed our burned home. All my personal papers had gone up in flames. Such things as records of my people, birth certificates, all my church records and other important papers. My blankets, clothing, mattresses, beds, stove, dishes, cupboard, refrigerator, table and chairs, and even our food was gone. As I stood looking at my burned stove and metal beds and my refrigerator sitting in the ashes, I cried. I mean, I cried out loud. I felt real bad. I was never notified by mail or any other way that my place was going to be burned.
We went back to Bannock Creek, Idaho, as there was nothing left for us at Washakie. On the Reservation we are not allowed to hunt or fish. We are considered as Mormon outsiders. We are like visitors. I would like to say that although the church has done me wrong, I do not hold a grudge against them. I still believe in all the teachings of the church. I still have my faith and it has not been broken. One day at Fast Meeting while I was bearing my testimony, I told of my home being burned down and of my faith in the church and of not hating the church for what they have done to me. After church one of the white members asked me why I didn’t give up my membership in the Mormon church and go elsewhere. I told this lady I was raised in the Mormon church and have lived its laws and rules all my life and was not going to give it up just for this. My faith is strong. I am not angry at the church. I am only hurt very deeply. While I lived at Washakie, my neighbors were Neitze Broom and Amy Broom. They lived next door to me in the red brick house. Across the road lived Nellie Tootewana and Minnie Woonsook. All these people are dead now and all their homes are gone too. Minnie Woonsook’s home was burned the same summer as mine. My neighbor to the east was my brother Evans Peyope. He lived in our family home. This home was burned also. I have been hearing that maybe the church is going to buy us some land for another Washakie. I hope it comes true but I feel I will not live long enough to see this come true. My son Richard may see it come true some day and may even come back to the new Washakie to live.
Testimony of Evans Peyope
I lived in the old Jacob Peyope home. I cannot remember where I was when my home was burned down. I heard some talk in June about my home being burned. I drove to Washakie from Bannock Creek, Idaho, and found there was no home. It was burned. I said “darn, someone has burned my house down.” Everything was black. I was angry, but what could I do. My bed and table were gone. I had no place to call my home now so I went back to Bannock Creek, Idaho and stayed with my sisters. I never really left. I was just visiting around like the rest of the Indians. My plans were to return again. On the reservation I am not allowed to hunt or fish. Sometimes I fish though. I live by eating rabbits and small fowls. I can hunt. I am another one of those Mormon outsiders. My sister Leona and I both lost our homes. If it is possible, I will take cash as I am very old now and cannot keep up a home. I am past 68 years old.
Testimony of Elias and Alice Pubigee
Alice: I was so busy visiting around on the reservation, I was not aware my house had been burned down. One day we came home and our house was gone. Amy Timbimboo came over and we all stood around and cried. We were never informed our house was going to be burned. We received no letters. The only thing that made us suspicious was LaMar Cutler’s questions all the time. Every time he saw us he would ask us when we were going to move for good to Idaho. I asked him why he wanted us to move. I also asked him if he disliked us. He said he liked us but raised the question about moving again. It seemed as if he asked the same thing every other day. When my husband was watering in our yard, Mr. Cutler told him to quit watering. I told my husband to ask Mr. Cutler if he disliked us so much. My husband only laughed and stopped his watering. Then Mr. Cutler informed us we were going to be moved. I cannot remember when the burning took place.
Elias: Mr. Cutler also burned an old car of mine. It was in running condition and had a good engine in it.
Alice: When I saw everything was burned, I said to my husband, “I wonder who ordered this done.” I looked around and when I saw our car sitting there all burned black I started to cry. Although my home may have looked like a shack to some people, it was my home. It was the place we remembered and always returned to. Many of our things were still there. Being Indians, we did a lot of farm labor. We left in the spring to thin beets; in the summer we picked fruit, and in the fall we did beets and other things. When things quieted down we always came home. So you can see we were gone away almost half of the year. We always knew where our home was. It was at Washakie. We have seen Lamar Cutler going around burning along ditch banks that always seem to burn toward houses. We saw the scene described by Geneva Alex Pacheco. At this time he almost burned one of our other houses. A house that we got from Seth Eagle. We bought a log house at Bannock Creek, Idaho, and have purchased a little land to move this home to. No longer can we come to Washakie, but every time we pass through we cry and feel bad. This was our hometown. We had things here but they are all gone now. Since our home was on church land maybe they felt they had a right to burn it down. We still feel bad. We are living at Bannock Creek, Idaho, and are going to church there. We still believe in the church but it hurts when we remember what they did to us. We are not angry at the church. We still pray and pay our tithing. I was asked to serve in the Bannock Creek Relief Society. Although I cannot read or write, I am trying very hard to do as I am told. Leona Peyope is our president. This home we have bought at Bannock Creek is for future use by our children and grandchildren. We may not live long. If the church buys us land somewhere near Washakie for another community, I am sure we will come back. We hope this comes true. Yesterday we visited the Washakie Cemetery. We did not want to go back to Idaho. It was so quiet and peaceful here. We like it here at Washakie. I feel as my husband feels. We need a home here with a lot. I cannot forget how hard I cried. I cried very loud. All my things were gone.
Testimony of Minnie Woonsook[Minnie Woonsook died soon after her home was burned. Amy Timbimboo related her knowledge of that burning.]
My husband, Moroni Timbimboo, and I had gone to Ogden this day. When we came back to our Washakie home, we saw that Minnie Woonsook’s home had been burned. In fact, it was still burning. I got out of our car and walked over to the burning house. I saw what remained of her home. There was a burned stove and the mattress and blankets on her bed were still smoldering. The bed, being metal, was still standing up. Her cupboard was burning with her pots and pans and dishes still in it. Her clothing and other personal things were burning. A very good couch my husband and I gave her was burning away. I could not save anything. I walked over to Mr. LaMar Cutler’s home. I asked him what was going on. I asked him if he knew that two tons of coal were stored in Minnie’s shed. “Who is going to pay for all this,” I asked. Mr. Cutler said he would talk to Stake President Smith and see if they can pay for the coal. A few days later, Mr. Cutler brought a check over to me to give to Minnie. I delivered the check to Minnie and told her that her home was gone. Minnie Woonsook and her daughter had been at home just before this happened and had gone to Ogden to her daughter’s home. The daughter became sick and needed care so Minnie stayed on in Ogden. Her feelings were just like the rest of the burned out Indians. There was weeping and sorrow. She had nowhere to go. One evening as Minnie was crossing Washington Boulevard, a drunken white woman hit Minnie with her car and killed her.
Testimony of Amy Timbimboo
Each time I saw the homes burn, I cried. I stood among the ashes and remembered all the people that lived in them. I watched Bishop George M. Ward’s red brick house go down in flames. I was there talking to Mr. Cutler. I told him I had seen good times in that home. I saw it as a little girl. In this home many of us were married. We were happy in it. In this home, we had singing practice and business meetings. While I recalled these events to Mr. Cutler he didn’t say a word but only laughed at me. I guess to him it was an old house. To us it was a home. I saw Leona’s home burn too. I talked to Mr. Cutler about this also. About my own home, it was getting real lonesome now. We have never received a letter telling us to move. We have never received anything telling us we could stay at Washakie until we died. We moved our church membership records to the Portage Ward and attended church there for two years. In 1969 we moved to Plymouth, Utah. .We attended meeting, fasted and paid our honest tithing.
Testimony of Moroni Timbimboo
“Since the church is burning everything around us, maybe we better move somewhere else,” I said to my wife. Just as I said this, Mr. Nish from Plymouth, Utah, came to our Washakie home and said he had heard we were looking for a place to live. He invited us to visit him at Plymouth. The next day we drove to Plymouth to look around. We saw three houses. I had only a nickel in my pocket and was house hunting. I believe the Lord guided us to Plymouth and to our present home. Mr. Keith Lamb, a good friend and neighbor, must have known I was short of money. He offered to pay for our home and all he said after he had paid for our home was “pay me back when your harvest is over.” We did not ask him for a loan, he just offered his help. When my harvest was done, I paid Mr. Lamb back.
Testimony of Wallace Zundel
I bought my log house from Jessie Perdash. She had moved away. I asked her what she was going to do with her house. I told her I heard rumors that the church was burning homes at Washakie. I cannot name any certain person who told me this. It was being talked about by all the Indians. Jessie said there wasn’t anything she could do if the church wants to burn her house…. My wife, Hazel, and I cleaned up the house. We scrubbed the floor and were planning to move the house. We had intended to use this house for the purpose of tanning our deer hides…. By my house was a shed belonging to Jessie Perdash. Also a small trailer house. In these places were stored beds, bedding, clothing and other household items. She had a cellar too. In it was stored food and bottled fruit. Coal was stored outside of the log home. All I have mentioned were burned. Later on I asked LaMar Cutler why he had burned my house. I told him I had bought the place from Jessie Perdash. He said he would pay me the amount I had paid Jessie. In a few days he gave me a check, the kind he pays all his farm help with. Almost all these homes were built by Indians. The logs were sawed by Indians. The homes were built with Indian labor; It was theirs. I would like a cash settlement.
Testimony of Marjorie Alex Pacheco
I was one of the witnesses to the burning of Jessie Perdash’s shed and trailer house and her cellar. I also saw the log house burn that Wallace Zundel bought from Jessie Perdash. It was in the fall and our men had gone deer hunting. My daughter-in-law Marilyn Alex and I were inside our house. We were living in one of the cinder-block houses in Washakie. I heard a roaring and rumbling sound outside, so we went outside to see what was going on. We saw Wallace’s house on fire. The flames were shooting real high. Because the home was old and of dry logs it burned hard and fast. I decided not to tell Moroni and Amy Timbimboo. Wallace is their son-in-law. I was afraid they might run over there and try to put the fire out and in the process might get hurt or even burn up. Our hunters coming out of the canyon saw the fire also. They rode as fast as they could. They thought Everett Neaman’s home was on fire. I saw LaMar Cutler burning weeds around the home when it caught fire. The next day, I told Moroni and Amy. They knew nothing about this burning up. There was no way we could have saved this place. There was no water. Wallace’s house was clean and going to be moved.
On November 24, 1960, the Washakie farm was disposed of by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The farm was sold to the Peterson brothers of Roy, Utah, to become a privately owned large cattle ranch. In a gesture of compassion for the Washakie residents, the Northwestern Shoshone Band was given 184 acres of land purchased by the LDS church in the vicinity of Washakie from Milton McCrary. This land was donated to the tribe as trust lands to fulfill the federal requirement enabling residents to receive government aid.
Northwestern Shoshone Government
The Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians are recognized by the United States government as Treaty Indians. The Treaty of Box Elder signed in 1863 reads as follows:
Treaty with the Shoshoni–Northwestern Bands, 1863
Articles of agreement made at Box Elder, in Utah Territory, this thirtieth day of July, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, by and between the United States of America, represented by Brigadier-General P. Edward Connor, commanding the military district of Utah, and James Duane Doty, commissioner, and the northwestern bands of the Shoshonee Indians, represented by their chiefs and warriors:
Article 1. It is agreed that friendly and amicable relations shall be re-established between the bands of the Shoshonee Nation, parties hereto, and the United States, and it is declared that a firm and perpetual peace shall be henceforth maintained between the said bands and the United States.
Article 2. The treaty concluded at Fort Bridger on the 2nd day of July, 1863; between the United States and the Shoshonee Nation, being read and fully interpreted and explained to the said chiefs and warriors, they do hereby give their full and free assent to all of the provisions of said treaty, and the same are hereby adopted as a part of this agreement, and the same shall be binding upon the parties hereto.
Article 3. In consideration of the stipulations in the preceding articles, the United States agree to increase the annuity to the Shoshonee Nation five thousand dollars, to be paid in the manner provided in said treaty. And the said northwestern bands hereby acknowledge to have received of the United States, at the signing of these articles, provisions and goods to the amount of two thousand dollars, to relieve their immediate necessities, the said bands having been reduced by the war to a state of utter destitution.
Article 4. The country claimed by Pokatello, for himself and his people, is bounded on the west by the Raft River and on the east by the Porteneuf Mountains.
Article 5. Nothing herein contained shall be construed or taken to admit any other or greater title or interest in the lands embraced within the territories described in said treaty in said tribes or bands of Indians than existed in them upon the acquisition of said territories from Mexico by the laws thereof.
Done at Box Elder, this thirtieth day of July, A.D. 1863…
The treaty was never fully adhered to by the United States government. After the settlement at Washakie became a viable community where the Northwestern Shoshone Indians living in Utah became settled and self-sufficient, the concept of Indian chiefs faded away along with the Shoshones’ nomadic way of living. White leaders gradually took much of the leadership responsibility. This was particularly true with respect to the religious and community affairs. The relationship of the tribe to the United States government was somewhat dormant for a period following the year 1900. The Shoshone Indians at Washakie were almost totally ignored by the United States government. Most other tribes were settled on Indian reservations and were more or less governed by agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Although the leaders were no longer called chiefs, leaders among the Shoshone Indians at Washakie continued to exist. The knowledge that the white settlers and soldiers had illegally taken their lands continued to trouble many of the Shoshone. Under the primary leadership of Willie Ottogary, along with other prominent Washakie leaders, a group of Indians decided upon court action to find relief. As a result, attorney Charles H. Merillat and Charles J. Kappler and Joseph Chez, associate attorneys, initiated a lawsuit against the United States government for the unlawful taking of Indian lands. In 1930 the Northwestern Band brought a claim for the taking of areas it contended were recognized by the United States in the 1863 Box Elder Treaty. This case finally ended in the Supreme Court of the United States where it was lost in a split decision. In Northwestern Shoshone v. United States, 324 U.S. 335 (1939) the United States Supreme Court held that the 1863 treaty was a treaty of friendship only and did not constitute a recognition by the federal government of any right, title, or interest in the territorial claims of the tribe.
Although they lost the case, the action helped result in the United States Congress establishing the Indian Claims Commission Act on August 11, 1946, which gave all of the Northern and Eastern Shoshone the opportunity to press their claims for compensation for the taking of aboriginal lands. Eventually, the claim of the Northwestern Band of Washakie became consolidated with claims from the Shoshone-Bannock tribe at Fort Hall, Idaho, and with the Eastern Shoshones in the Wind River area of Wyoming. The Indian Claims Commission concluded that the Northwestern Band of Indians were a party to the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger and, as a consequence, their claim to aboriginal lands was recognized.
On February 13, 1968, the Indian Claims Commission entered a final judgment in the amount of $15,700,000 to settle the consolidated claims. The acreage involved in the settlement as determined by the claims commission was for 38,319,000 acres. This number was reduced by the acreage involved in the Fort Hall and the Wind River Reservations. Compensation was paid at just under fifty cents per acre. After negotiations with the other tribes involved in the settlement, the sum of $1,375,000 was awarded to the Northwestern Band of Shoshone. Deducted from this amount were certain offsets owed to the United States government, attorneys’ fees, and a $100,000 compromise deduction to reach an agreement with the other tribes involved in the various claims. The final amount was distributed on a per-capita basis to those properly enrolled in the tribe, as published in the Federal Register on May 17, 1972. Finally, that August, 221 members received payment as a result of the claim. Ninety-six members received checks, while money was placed in Individual Indian Money accounts (IIM accounts) for 125 members.
Leaders of the Northwestern Band who were engaged in getting restitution from the United States government included among many others Thomas Pabawena, Enos Pubigee, and George P. Sam, none of whom lived to see the fruits of their labor. All had died by the time the claim was settled, and all are owed a debt of gratitude by those of the tribe who eventually benefited from their efforts. Leaders of the tribe prior to and at the time of the settlement of the claim were Lee Neaman, Frank Timbimboo, Wallace Zundel, and Mae Parry. Frank Timbimboo and Mae Parry traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Court of Claims of the United States Congress in support of the Shoshone claim.
In 1957 some members of Congress introduced a bill to terminate the special relationship and remove from wardship status 60,000 Indians in eight states. Senator Arthur V. Watkins from Utah, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Subcommittee, sought the action to terminate, among others, five Indian bands in Utah, including the Northwestern Band of Shoshone of Washakie, Utah. This action was vigorously opposed by the Northwestern Band at Washakie and its leadership. Through the timely and assertive action of the leadership of the Northwestern Band and many others named in the act in the form of a protest to Congress, termination of the band was avoided.
On April 29, 1987, the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted a “Secretarial Election” for the adoption or rejection of a constitution for the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. The constitution was adopted by a vote of sixty-one in favor and six against, in an election in which at least 40 percent of the ninety-three people entitled to vote cast their ballots. Kenneth Neaman and Jennifer Davis were tribal leaders involved in negotiating with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to establish a constitution and gain greater recognition from the United States government. Frank Timbimboo was selected as chairman of the first seven-member tribal council elected following adoption of the constitution. Tribal chairmen who followed Timbimboo were Larry Neaman, Leonard Alex, Joe Louis Alex, George Worley, and, as of February 1995, a new term for Joe Louis Alex. As of May 1995 the tribe staffs two offices to serve the tribal members. One office is in Blackfoot, Idaho, to serve those living in the Fort Hall vicinity, while a Brigham City, Utah, office serves tribal members living in the northern Utah area.
In January 1995, tribal enrollment of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation numbered 454 members. Nearly all of the them live in northern Utah and southern Idaho, with a few other members scattered throughout the United States.
In the late 1990s members of the Northwestern Shoshone Band began efforts to acquire a 6,400-acre ranch straddling the Utah-Idaho border near the 184 acres the band owns near their former town of Washakie, land that currently only houses the town’s cemetery. Hopes are high that this would attract members to the area, with developments planned for a ranch, truck stop, and hotel. Efforts are underway to obtain federal funds (and perhaps donations from other sources) to purchase the land, with plans to establish a new reservation.39
1 See Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11, Great Basin (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1986); Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshoni (Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers, 1980); Robert H. Lowie, “The Northern Shoshone,” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 2 (New York, 1909); Omer C. Stewart, “Shoshoni History and Social Organization,” Idaho Yesterdays 9 (Fall 1965); David B. Madsen and David Rhode, eds., Across the West: Human Population Movement and the Expansion of the Numa (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994). These works describe the territory of the Shoshone bands and their social organization and relationships to other Great Basin region inhabitants prior to white contact. Indian Agent Frederick W. Lander reported to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in February 1860 (United States National Archives, M234: Utah) the different bands of the Shoshone: the “Shoshonees or Eastern Snakes” (Washakie’s Eastern Shoshones), the “Salmon River Snakes, Bannacks and Snakes and Sheep Eaters” (the mixed band of the Lemhi Valley), the “Western Snakes,” (the Northwestern Shoshone bands including Pocatello’s), the “Bannacks, or Panackees or Pannacks” (the mixed buffalo-hunting bands of the Fort Hall region), “Bannacks of Fort Boise” (probably the mixed group which became known as the Boise Shoshones), the “Salt Lake Diggers, Lower or Southern Snakes” (the Northwestern Shoshone bands that lived among the Mormon settlements of northern Utah), and the “Warraricas, [?Sun-Flower Seed Eaters’] or Diggers or Bannacks, Below Fort Boise, West of the Blue Mountains” (probably the Paiute speakers known as “Snakes” in Oregon).
2 Scott R. Christensen, “Sagwitch: Shoshoni Chieftain, Mormon Elder, 1822?1884” (Master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1995), 11?12.
3 Ibid., 13?14. Chief Washakie (1804-1900); Chief Pocatello (ca. 1815?1884); Chief Sagwitch Timbimboo (1822?1884); Chief Bear Hunter (d. 1863) Chief Sanpitch (d. 1863); Chief Lehi (dates unknown). Sagwitch and Bear Hunter were cousins. The LDS leadership decided in their earliest encounters with native tribes against attempting to “buy” land. A policy of feed rather than fight with local tribes was decreed by Brigham Young in the earliest days of settlement and continued to be semi-official doctrine through the 1850s and 1860s, even though many individual Latter-day Saints complained about being forced to bear the economic hardship the policy entailed.
4 See Wick Miller, “Numic Languages,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11, Great Basin, 98?106; Beverly Crum and John Dayley, “Western Shoshone Grammar,” Occasional Papers and Monographs in Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics, Vol. 1 (Boise: Boise State University, 1993); Robert and Yolanda Murphy, “Shoshone-Bannock Subsistence and Society’ Anthropological Records 16 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960).
5 According to May Parry research, Hitope Joshua related stories of Navajos and Utes trading horses for skins and buckskins with the Northwestern Shoshones. See Francis Haines, “Where Did the Plains Indians Get Their Horses?” American Anthropologist 40 (1938): 112?17; Francis Haines, “The Northward Spread of Horses Among the Plains Indians,” American Anthropologist 40 (1938): 429?37; Dmitri B. Shimkin, “The Introduction of the Horse,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11, Great Basin, 6?7; The spread of horses among Native American tribes, the arrival of the horse in the Great Basin, and the impact of horse ownership is well documented in these sources.
6 Mae Parry research. Traditional building methods of the “green houses” have been preserved through continued use; Kippie and Positze Norigen and other community residents built a traditional “greenhouse” each summer at Washakie, Utah.
7 Mae Parry research. Annie Camasovah owned one of these blankets at Washakie, Utah, and showed construction methods.
8 The author’s grandmother Yampatch Wongan Timbimboo taught her grandchildren the traditional methods of food gathering and preparation.
9 Mae Parry research. Moroni and Yeager Timbimboo showed their descendants (and photographed) the remnants of sagebrush corrals used during their and their parents’ lifetimes. Diamond Wo me hup and Grouse Creek Jack related stories of large animal hunts.
10 Mae Parry research. Annie Camasovah related this custom; and Wallace and Hazel Zundel attended a ceremony of this type.
11 Brigham D. Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1985), 185. A California newspaper reporter accompanying Colonel Conner on the expedition which resulted in the Bear River Massacre in 1863 reported hastily dug entrenchments in both the ravine embankment and by the river. In the days following the massacre those who inspected the site concluded that neither was the case. On the ravine side, what were reported as foxholes were actually shallow steps to facilitate climbing up out of the ravine to the horse pasturage area, and those “entrenchments” by the river were judged to be natural depressions.
12 Mae Parry research. Tribal history was passed to current generations of Northwestern Shoshones in this way. Survivors of the Bear River Massacre, including the author’s direct ancestor Chief Sagwitch and his children, handed down the Indian account of what happened that day.
13 Christensen, “Sagwitch: Shoshoni Chieftain’ 34–3 6; Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier, chapter 9; Mae Parry resesarch. Northwestern Shoshone oral tradition holds these three men from the Northwestern Shoshone camp on the Bear River as responsible for one of the key events that precipitated the army’s attack in January 1863; Christensen and Madsen place the mens’ actions in a larger context of events which began in late 1862 and continued through December.
14 Brigham D. Madsen, Chief Pocatello: The White Plume (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986), 54–55; Madsen cites the author’s report of Northwestern Shoshone oral tradition which claims the men responsible for these murders were from Pocatello’s band.
15 Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier, 154. Madsen relates the growing tensions on both sides, writing, “The Mormon settlers of Cache Valley played their part. Tensions with neighboring Northwestern bands increased after the July 1860 killing of Chief Pagumap at Smithfield and the loss of two of the Saints at the hands of the revenge-seeking natives. Fighting seemed to be the rule during the next two years. Cache Valley residents mounted guard over their herds and fields and Chief Bear Hunter skillfully sought provisions for his people while negotiating with the Mormon leaders, but anger and frustration escalated on both sides as their impossible situation grew worse.
16 Oral tradition passed through the author’s family describes this event.
17 Mae Parry research. As a direct descendant of Chief Sagwitch and Yeager Timbimboo, the chief’s youngest surviving son of the massacre, the author was told stories of what happened that morning.
18 See Brigham D. Madsen, Glory Hunter: A Biography of Patrick Edward Connor (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990); Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier, 167. Colonel Connor’s intent of broad retribution to discourage further Indian aggression is well documented through Nevada and Utah in 1862?63. Before a similar punitive engagement in Nevada in late 1862, Connor ordered Major Edward McGarry to “destroy every male Indian whom you may encounter in the vicinity of the late massacres.” As in Nevada, in the heat of fighting no distinction was made between men, women, children, young or old during the Bear River Massacre.
19 Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier, chapter 9. Madsen gives a point by point reconstruction of the course of the day’s fighting and aftermath from army records and eyewitness accounts from white settlers and army participants.
20 Mae Parry research. Ray Diamond lived at Washakie and was a family friend and neighbor of the author.
21 Mae Parry research. Yeager Timbimboo is the author’s grandfather.
22 Madsen, The Shoshoni Frontier, chapter 9.
23 Ibid., 193, 200.
24 Mae Parry research. Oral tradition from family and other survivors.
26 Two monuments now are found at the site. The first, erected by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, describes the conflict as a battle and celebrates the bravery of the soldiers and praises the aid offered by Cache Valley residents to the wounded soldiers. The second, erected by the National Park Service, describes the conflict as a massacre and relates the basic facts of the Northwestern Shoshone and army positions on that day.
27 The Treaty of Box Elder in 1863 officially ended conflict with the Northwestern Shoshone bands. The treaty did not set aside a land base for the bands, though it did outline a territory to which Chief Pocatello claimed ancestral right for his band. The treaty also promised an annuity of $5,000 a year with an immediate $2,000 in goods given to relieve hardships.
28 Mae Parry research. Forty public domain allotments were entered under the Homestead Act for Indian families. Existing records for these are located at the tribal offices on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. See Christensen, “Sagwitch: Shoshoni Chieftain, Mormon Elder.” Christensen includes in his appendices a typescript of Chief Sagwitch Timbimboo’s homestead affidavit.
29 Christensen, “Sagwitch: Shoshoni Chieftain, Mormon Elder,” 154-60. After the disaster at Corinne the LDS church more carefully designed the Malad farm to guard against the types of accusations leveled against Hill and the Indians by Corinne townspeople.
30 Ibid. Christensen discusses in detail the Washakie farm and the administration of the farm by the LDS church.
31 The author was born and raised at Washakie. Her family, including her great-grandfather Sagwitch, grandfather Yeager Timbimboo, and father Moroni Timbimboo, held land at Washakie and homesteaded adjacent land to the farm. The description of the settlement and its history comes from family knowledge and the oral traditions of the community.
32 Christensen, “Sagwitch: Shoshoni Chieftain, Mormon Elder,” 182. The Samaria sawmill was founded to provide wood for the completion of a canal needed for Washakie. The sawmill also produced lumber used to build the first dwellings at Washakie.
33 Frank Timbimboo, interview, 1967, Doris Duke Oral History Project, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah.
34 Fullmer Allred and Newel J. Cutler, interviews, 1967, Doris Duke Oral History Project, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah. Both men were LDS church employees at the Brigham City farm. Allred discusses church involvement in teaching Washakie residents building trades. Cutler discusses buildings and the general standard of living on the farm.
35 Mae Parry research. Existing records for homesteads are located at the tribal offices on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho.
36 Moroni and Mrs. Timbimboo, interview, 1967, Doris Duke Oral History Project, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah. Moroni Timbimboo (father of the author) speaks of the sheep herd and his memories of working on the Washakie farm as a boy.
37 Mae Parry research. The author gathered this information from Washakie community members and from her own experience in the Washakie school.
38 Mae Parry research; typescript held by author.
39 Dan Egan, “Shoshone Hoping to Reestablish Tribal Homeland in Northern Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 31, 1999, A-1.