The Shoshone-Bannock in Fort Hall

Fort Hall was an important station on the westbound journey, and a fascinating place to visit now! This is true not only for its unique role in the history of the Oregon and California trails, but also for the thriving culture of the Shoshone-Bannock reserve. Emphasizing the unique aspects of Fort Hall Shoshone-Bannocks is to recognize the achievement of a level of economic success that historically was not typical of reserves, and the role of cultural values ​​in moderating the changes caused by market influences .

The Shoshones of Fort Hall, known as the Pohogues (People of the Wise), had inhabited the southwest corner of the Great Basin, perhaps 4000 years ago, migrating to the Snake River drainage in later centuries. His first documented contact with whites was with Lewis and Clark in August 1805 near the current reservation. The Corp desperately needed horses, but Lewis had desperate to meet the Shoshones who fled when they saw. Finally, the explorers surprised three Shoshone women who did not have time to flee. Lewis offered gifts and persuaded them of their peaceful intentions when sixty mounted warriors galloped, armed and ready to fight.

A 1918 canvas by Montana cowboy artist Charles Russell commemorates the Discovery Corps meeting with the Cameahwait war party. Leaving behind his weapon with two members of the Corps, Captain Meriwether Lewis advanced only with the American flag. His ploy worked: "We were all taken care of and covered in grease and paint until I got tired of the national hug," he wrote.

Lewis dropped his gun, took an American flag and approached alone. The bad news obtained from the meeting was that the rivers were not navigable. The good news is that the Indians had a herd of four hundred horses, some of which they exchanged for simple trinkets. They also offered as an guide to an old man, "Old Toby", because he knew the country to the northwest. A trapper named John Rees suggested that "Toby" could be a contraction of Tosa-tive koo-be, which literally translated from Shoshone means "gave brains" to the white man. "Whatever his name, he helped them through the Bitterroot Mountains They were the immense ranges, partially covered with snow, that they found here They had expected a short carriage that would have taken them to a navigable tributary of the Columbia.

The shoshone had always depended heavily on the ecosystem for food, especially the roots of the bed plant and salmon when it was in season. It is interesting that Lewis and Clark almost completely survived on bed roots sometimes during their trip. The shoshone also ate morning glory roots and sego roots. During the spring, they were able to find wild onions, new stems of bulrush, wild asparagus and wild carrots. During the summer, there were wild strawberries, currants, water lilies and sunflower seeds. In the fall, the shoshone picked redcurrants, blackberries and berries. What did the Indians do with the beds? Almost without exception, they baked them, slow and slow, in an earth oven.

They could also get pine nuts from the pine nuts during this time of year. They would take the nuts out of the pineapples, roast them, throw them (or peel), and grind them in flour. In the replica of the old Fort Hall in Pocatello, the fact sheets on some of the plants that Lewis and Clark discovered. Of course, salmon was of great importance when it was in season and was the cause of heated disputes over fishing rights at a later date. (For a delicious recipe for Pinenut Zucchini Tamales, see the cookbook of Shoshoni, Faith Stone and AnnSaks.)

The Shoshones also influenced the fur trade. The Rocky Mountain hunters were, for most of the year, a separate fragment of Euro-American society. They were isolated five hundred miles from the colonized states. Only in mid-summer, when the appointment began and supply trains crossed the Great Plains, did they see other white people. The Indians not only supplied skins, but this important event may have been derived from an Indian precedent, the Shoshoni trade fair, which was traditionally held in the summer season. It was a fusion of both cultures & # 39; It was very successful because it combined the practicality of the market with frivolity and the celebration of a social occasion.

Wine, women and song ensured emotional liberation for both Indians and hunters, and although it was extemporaneous, it took root as an institution in 1825. Neither hunters nor Indians were fairly rewarded for their efforts to secure the beaver and other skins for the established. Business. But the Indians were not slaves of the fur trade, but intelligent merchants who could easily dispense with almost all articles of commerce. In fact, according to Chittenden, American Fur Trade of the West, "The merchant's relationship with the Indian was the most natural and enjoyable of all the two races that have sustained each other."

Entrepreneurs, like Nathaniel Wyeth, born in Yankee, tried to challenge established British companies and in doing so they built Fort Hall. Wyeth's men completed the construction of the fort on August 4, 1834, and the day after dawn, they unfolded the stars and stripes. Wyeth and his men "drank a bundle of liquor" and called it "Fort Hall" in honor of their oldest companion, Henry Hall. Wyeth then sold Fort Hall to Hudson Bay Company, when he could not compete with him and other companies, and became the commercial center of the hungry land. Photo

The corn, beans, squash and dried meat that the Indians supplied at this time were invaluable for the stalls and often kept them without hunger. Coffee, sugar, tobacco and alcohol were transported from the east. At certain times, merchants prepared fancy parties. "A dinner was prepared that included fresh bison meat, beef, chicken and lamb, Mandan corn, fresh butter, milk and cheese, white bread and a variety of fruits, all accompanied by an excellent selection of vintage wines and brandies ". However, such occasions were very rare. The old replica of Fort Hall in Pocatello is a great attraction when visiting this area. The screens cover the entire history of the fort and are very informative. Adjacent to the fortress is the Bannock County Historical Museum, which has among its many exhibits, the diligence of Holladay Overland Stage Company and the photographs and ethnographic objects of Shoshoni and Bannock.

When the forty-nine arrived west in search of gold, they took the precaution of carrying guns, guns and hunting knives, but a pioneer near Fort Hall wrote: "As for the danger of the Indians, so far any of the twenty enemies, such as fleas, whiskey, mules and hind legs, tornadoes and cold river currents have been much more serious. " The Indians had become accustomed to the constant flow of fortune seekers and tolerated intruders, although they were often deceived. .

In turn, the forty-nine made fun of the Indians, but tried to treat those who arrived at the camp with kindness and apparently even felt a little guilty for invading their lands in such large quantities. The book, Forty-Niners, by Archer Butler Hulbert, written in 1931, contains drawings of maps of eight successive parts of the western paths, music and words for some of the songs they sang along the way, and cartoon illustrations of The time. . According to the author, it was obtained from all available newspapers or magazines that could shed light on the pioneer experience. The advice of the tongue on the cheeks is given freely, such as: "If you do not have salt for your buffalo steak, sprinkle with powder and it will taste salty and seasoned."

After the Indians acquired horses, they expanded their economy to include the buffalo and some processed foods received in commerce. As a source of wealth, horses increased conflict between certain groups of Indians. The horse was also an attraction factor for the Bannocks, a northern group that joined the Shoshones in Fort Hall. But by the mid-1860s, non-Indians had infiltrated almost every area of ​​the snake country. The depletion of Indian resources led to the Great Snake War. Finally, the Shoshones agreed to relocate to Fort Hall Reservation. The reserve was established by an Executive Order under the terms of the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868. It originally contained 1.8 million acres, an amount that was reduced to 1.2 million acres in 1872 as a result of a survey error. The reserve was further reduced to its current size through subsequent legislation and the allocation process.

Survival under the new conditions became a major problem. There were many difficult times when residents had to deal with bad water, floods and dissatisfaction with boarding schools and the government. Food was often scarce, because Indians still saw the area in terms of their usual subsistence patterns and became dependent on the government to survive. But the adaptability of these subsistence patterns along with the poorly organized kinship system that emphasized family ties, proved useful in allowing Indians to adapt to new circumstances. The availability of water for irrigation eventually determined the level of agricultural and economic development, and there was great potential compared to other reserves. Fort Hall was also well located on an important commercial route with roads and railroads that passed or were nearby.

Subsequent disagreements between livestock owners and farmers in the reserve, as well as with the agency on the allocation and use of land, resulted in a period of uncertainty. The agency's bias on behalf of the mestizos also led to greater animosity and accusations of favoritism. The increasing tensions had an effect on religious traditions such as the Dance of the Ghost and the Dance of the Sun. The Indians resorted to the dance of the ghosts due to the difficulties of living in the reserve. Anyone who has a disease in their family could dance, with the participation of men and women. He later appeared in a messianic fashion that swept the plains. The Dance of the Sun was banned for a while, but the leaders protested and organized the famous Dance of the Sun of 1914, which was attended by almost 1500 people and underlined its importance for the Shoshone-Bannock identity.

Amid continuing concerns about land use, including leasing to non-Indians, and the growing dominance of the government over Indians after the assignment, Ralph Dixey with the approval of a new agent, William Donner, organized the Association from Stockmen Indian Fortmen in 1921. The association supported the innovation and the Reorganization Act of India in Fort Hall in 1934. Although controversial, many think that the law has helped preserve the bases of communal tribal lands.

Economies of scale gave the association a competitive advantage against non-Indian farmers. When the farmers association threatened to become too powerful, it remarkably self-regulated for the sake of consensus. Although the Shoshone-Bannocks had welcomed the market, they maintained a community spirit and struggled to achieve a political consensus in keeping with their tradition.

In the twentieth century, leaders continued to try to reconcile entrepreneurial farmers and concern for the community. The expansion of the East Idaho district fair to a state fair, in 1939, helped increase Shoshone-Bannock social stature in Idaho. The introduction of handicrafts for sale, cabins and cars contributed to the modernization and influenced the economy. The Sun Dance became more entrepreneurial by charging admission and allowing concessions.

Now visitors can attend the Shoshone festival held in August, which is unique due to the various activities that are carried out along with the event, which includes: softball tournaments, golf tournaments, rodeos, relay horse races Indian, art shows, parades, traditional tournament games, games for indigenous children, community buffalo and salmon party, fun and much more. The crafts can be seen at the Donzia Gift Shop located inside the New Shoshone Hotel & Event Center located at exit 80 Interstate 15 in Fort Hall, Idaho, next to the Fort Hall Casino.

Some of the problematic legal problems that the Shoshones faced in the latter part of the twentieth century included the policy of termination or termination of the "blockade" of Native Americans by the government. It was promoted by Congress in the 1950s and the goal was to end the paternalistic relationship of the government with the Indians, but it was seen as a justification for abandoning any responsibility towards them. As the termination efforts failed, the government implemented programs aimed at promoting health, education and economic development. Similar programs are now successfully operated by the tribes in the reserve.

Fisheries rights disputes and land claims and assignments to different groups in Fort Hall continued for years with the sentiment of Lemhi Shoshones (Sacajawea group) ignored. Perhaps in an effort to reconcile them, the Sacajawea Interpretation, Culture and Education Center was dedicated east of Salmon in 2001 and is another interesting attraction for visitors. Now guests of the Shoshone-Bannocks can get fishing permits and fish in the beautiful Fort Hall funds. Permits are capture and release. The mission of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is to protect, restore and improve resources related to fish and wildlife according to the Tribes & # 39; unique interests and rights acquired in such resources and their habitats.

John W. Heaton, author of The Shoshone-Bannocks, Culture and Commerce in Fort Hall, 1870-1948, offers a very positive picture of the current economy:

The Shoshone-Bannock economy of the 21st century is based on a diverse mix: commercial agriculture and mining … on land leased from Fort Hall for the benefit of the tribes; business activities financed by tribes, such as games, bison breeding, an online handicraft shop and tourism, which provide opportunities for wage labor and a social safety net; and individually pursued opportunities for subsistence, entrepreneurship and wage labor inside and outside the reserve. The people of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes continue to achieve success in the market in a way that reproduces collective values ​​and a distinct identity. They remain adaptable and resilient people who pursue a meaningful existence in a constantly changing world.

The identity of Shoshone-Bannock on the Internet at certainly affirms this assessment. As of August 2015, there were 5,859 registered Shoshone-Bannock tribal members: of the tribal membership, 4,038 reside in the Fort Hall Reserve. The "Who we are" page includes an extensive history, photos and maps. Many meetings and meetings are mentioned. Recent impressive achievements include social and environmental services, energy management, the hotel and event center, and the Bannock Peak Casino. A 360 degree virtual tour of the festival's gazebo with sound places the viewer right in the middle of the festivities. As for food, the Camas Sports Grill offers a wide variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Exclusive items include breakfast Fry Bread, Idaho Nachos and Bison Sliders.

This trip has highlighted the successful Shoshone-Bannock transition from the early 19th century when Cameahwait met Lewis and Clark near the Snake River until the early 21st century, when Fort Hall is a thriving modern community that not only enjoys the economy. self-sufficiency but celebrates its cultural values. Any visitor to this area would enjoy meeting people, visiting attractions and attending the festival.

Virtual visit of the Arbor Shoshone-Bannock Festival, vendors & # 39; Booths, Grand Entry and three audio tracks available on their website at