Bannock Indians

Bannock Indians. From their own name Bana’kwŭt. Also called:

  • Diggers, by many writers.
  • Ogoize, by the Kalispel.
  • Panai’ti, form of name given by Hoffman (1886).
  • Pun-nush, by the Shoshoni.
  • Robber Indians, by Ross (1855).
  • Ush-ke-we-ah, by the Crow Indians.

Bannock Connections. The Bannock belonged to the Shoshonean branch of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock, being a detached branch of the Northern Paiute.

Bannock Location. —In historic times their main center was in southeastern Idaho, ranging into western Wyoming, between latitude 42° and 45° North and from longitude 113° West eastward to the main chain of the Rocky Mountains. At times they spread well down Snake River, and some were scattered as far north as Salmon River and even into southern Montana. (See also Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.)

Bannock Subdivisions. A few local group names have been preserved, such as the Kutsshundika or Buffalo-eaters, Penointikara or Honey-eaters, and Shohopanaiti or Cottonwood Bannock, but these are not well defined.

Bannock History. Bridger met the Bannock Indians in the country above indicated as early as 1829, but contacts between them and the Whites became much more intimate with the establishment of Fort Hall in 1834. In 1869 Fort Hall Reservation was set aside for them and the Shoshoni, but they were in the habit of wandering widely and it was a long time before they were gathered into it. They claimed the territory in southwestern Montana in which are situated Virginia City and Bozeman, and it is probable that they were driven across the mountains into the Salmon River Valley at a comparatively recent period. Before 1853 they were decimated by the smallpox and were finally gathered under the Lemhi and Fort Hall agencies. Loss of their lands, failure of the herds of buffalo, and lack of prompt relief on the part of the Government occasioned an uprising of the tribe in 1878, which was suppressed by General O. O. Howard.

Bannock Population. Bridger, in 1829, stated that the Bannock had 1,200 lodges, or a population of about 8,000, but he evidently included the neighboring Shoshoni. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1845 there were about 1,000, but Forney, in 1858 (p. 213) gave only 400 to 500. In 1870 Jones estimated 600 and Mann 800 “Northern Bannocks.” In 1901 they numbered 513 but were so intermixed with Shoshoni that the figure is uncertain. The census of 1910 reported 413, all but 50 of whom were in Idaho, and the census of 1930 gave 415, including 313 in Idaho. In 1937, 342 were reported.

Connections in which the Bannock have become noted. The only prominence attained by the Bannock was for a brief period during the Bannock War. The name is perpetuated by a river, a range of mountains, and a county. There is also a place named Bannock in Belmont County, Ohio, and another in Butler County, Kentucky, but these are probably not connected with the tribe.

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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