Shoshone Indian Tribe Photo Descriptions

The Shoshone, or Snake, are a tribe inhabiting the country about the head-waters of the Green and Snake Rivers, and a part of a great family of the same name, including the Comanche, Utah, and Kiowa. They occupy nearly all of the great Salt Lake Basin, to the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada, and extend also easterly to Texas. The Shoshone proper are divided into many bands under various names, the most important being the Buffalo-Eaters, of Wind River; the Mountain Sheep-Eaters, of Salmon River, and the Western Shoshone, near Boise, separated from the rest of the tribe by the kindred Bannack, numbering in the aggregate, with some lesser tribes on the Humboldt, between five and six thousand souls. Our first knowledge of them was through Lewis and Clarke, who found them west of the Rocky Mountains on the waters of the Columbia, but are supposed to have at one time inhabited the plain-country east of the mountains. James Irwin, United States Indian agent, in his report to the Commissioner, says: “They emigrated north about 1781, and proceeded to the upper waters of Green River under a leader or chief called Shoshone, or Snake. At this point they divided, one party going over on the Oregon slope, who are now called Western Shoshones, and have an agency in common with the Bannack at Fort Hall. The other party constitute the eastern baud of Shoshones, and have roamed around the Wind River Mountains from the time mentioned until 1868, when a treaty was made at Fort Bridger, that provided a reservation- for them embracing the Wind River Valley. Recently they entered into a contract with the Government by which they ceded a portion of their reservation, leaving them a district perhaps 50 miles in length, and 30 in breadth, embracing a beautiful valley on the east side of the Wind River Mountains. They now number about 1,800 souls, and must have diminished greatly since the time of Lewis and Clarke. Their life was a continued warfare; at first with the Crows and Blackfeet, and since then with the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Sioux, and all this time contending almost naked with the elements and struggling for subsistence.”

List of illustrations

657-8. Village in South Pass.
During the expedition of 1870, the United States Geo logical Survey of the Territories came across the above village of Shoshones, numbering nearly one hundred lodges, encamped among the southern foot-hills of the Wind River Mountains, where the above and some of the following views were secured. They were under the well-known chief Washakie, and were on their way to the Wind River Valley to hunt buffalo for the winter’s supply of food and clothing. Although the village had all the appearance of being a permanent abiding-place, yet the following morning, before the sun was an hour high, there was not a tent in sight, and the last pack-pony with trailing lodge-poles had passed out of sight over the hills to the eastward.

659-660. War Chief’s Tent.
The war chief is generally a man of more importance in the village, especially when in the neighborhood of enemies, than the chief himself. In this instance his tent, situated in the centre of the encampment, is adorned with broad bands of black, yellow, and white, rendering it quite conspicuous. The war chief, or his lieutenant, issues forth frequently to announce, in the far-reaching voice peculiar to Indians, the orders, which are to govern their actions, while within is an almost uninterrupted thumping on drums.

661-2. Washakie and His Warriors.
A group in front of the tent of the head chief Washakie. About him are gathered all the chief men of the encampment.

663-4. Washakie.   Photo  (off site)
This well-known chief is a man of more than ordinary ability, and his record as a stead fast friend of the white people has come down to the present time without a blemish. He is now well advanced in years, but still retains his vigor, and his influence over the tribe. One of the above portraits was made in the South Pass encampment, and the other is a copy of one made in bait Lake City.

605-6. Views In The Village.

667-676. Groups of in-door and out-door subjects, copied from small card views made in Salt Lake City, and which formed a part of the first Blackmore collection.


Source: Descriptive Catalogue, Photographs Of North American Indians . United States Geological Survey of the Territories, 1877 by W. H. Jackson, Photographer of the Survey, F. V. Hayden, U. S. Geologist.

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