Shoshone-Bannock Indians History

Shoshone-Bannock Indians History/Links

The geography of the Shoshone-Bannock ancestral lands alone is impressive. It includes parts of Montana, Idaho, Yellowstone National Park, and northern Utah, Nevada and California. Today, the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes' Fort Hall Reservation is on potato-growing land on the upper reaches of the Snake River in southeastern Idaho. The reservation's name, Fort Hall, comes from a trading post that was built on the tribe's wintering grounds near the Snake in the early 1800s. Nine emigrant trails, including the Oregon Trail, passed through Fort Hall.

An 1867 presidential executive order established the 1.8 million acre Fort Hall Indian Reservation, to which the Boise Shoshone were relocated from their western territory. The Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868 confirmed the arrangement, but a survey error reduced the reservation to 1.2 million acres in 1872. The Bannock Wars of 1878 were a final attempt by independent Native hunters to fight for their traditional existence.

From 1885 to 1914, the reservation was cut into allotments of 160 acres to each adult and 80 acres to each child. The tribes lost half of their reservation, including Lava Hot Springs and what is now the city of Pocatello, through a series of agreements between the tribe and the federal government.

*History condensed from Native Peoples of the Northwest, J. Halliday and G. Chehak.

Chronological History*

1878 Bannock War at Camas Prairie. Sometimes referred to as Kansas. It was "the straw which broke the camel's back." Rebellion against starvation and broken promises. Last battle with the whiteman.
1880 Agreement with Shoshone-Bannocks to cede southern portion of reservation and to accept the Lemhi, if they agree to move. Treaty signed May 14.
1881 Shoshone-Bannocks ratify agreement of May 14, 1880.
1882 First Indian police force of eight men organized.
1883 Fort Hall Military post closed.
1885 Major Crimes Act. This act allowed certain crimes committed within tribal jurisdiction to be tried in federal courts (murder, rape, robbery, etc.).
1887 General Allotment Act (Dawes) alloted 160 acres to each head of household and 40 acres to each minor. This bill opened surplus lands to white settlers. Indians protested, but to no avail.
1888 Pocatello townsite cession and compensation to the Shoshone-Bannocks for 1878 right-of-way. The purpose of the townsite cession was to remove white people from Indian land, and to "...maintain the reservation free of whites so as not to interfere with the Indian control of the reservation." The townsite cession was 1,840 acres.
1888 Tribal Court established.
1889 Treaty received governmental approval on February 23. In 1889, there were 315 Shoshones, 108 Sheepeaters, and 89 Bannocks.
1890 Wounded Knee Massacre of the Sioux--200 women, old men, and children were slaughtered. It was considered the avenge of General Custer.
1891 Amendment to the Dawes Act. It provided 80 acres of agricultural land and 160 acres of grazing land to each Indian.
1892 Congress passed a special act to grant Chief Tendoy a pension of $15.00 a month for surrendering lands and dealing honestly with the whites.
1893 Pension was almost taken away because Chief Tendoy freed some Indians whom George Monk, a Lemhi agent, had imprisoned.
1896 Three commissioners were appointed by Congress to deal with the Indians for more of their land.
1898 The three commissioners reported that an agreement was made with the Indians for the sale of 418,560 acres. They paid $1.25 an acre.
1900 President signed the Fort Hall cession of lands on June 6. The Shoshone-Bannocks were compensated $600,000. An amount of $75,000 was used for a school building. Article IV of the agreement provides that "So long as any of the lands ceded, granted and relinquished under this treaty remain part of the public domain, Indians belonging to the above-mentioned tribes, and living on the reduced reservation shall have the right, without any charge therefore, to cut timber for their own use, but not for sale, and to pasture their livestock on said public land, and to hunt thereon and to fish in the streams thereof."
1902 President Theodore Roosevelt signed proclamation opening ceded portion of reservation.
1975 P.L. 93-638--Indians Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. It provided maximum Indian participation in the government and education of the Indian people; to provide for the full participation of Indian tribes in programs and services conducted by the Federal Government for Indians and to encourage the development of human resources of the Indian people; to establish a program of assistance to upgrade Indian education; to support the right of Indian citizens to control their own educational activities and for other purposes. Tribes were allowed to contract federal programs and the money was given directly to them.
1976 Land Use Ordinance (Zoning)--The Secretary of Interior approved the Ordinance S4-75 for the Shoshone-Bannock Land Use Policy Ordinance. The purpose of the ordinance was 1) to protect the present character of the Fort Hall Reservation, 2) to insure clean air and water, open space and a quality human environment, 3) to reduce congestion, and 4) to promote the orderly and economic growth of the Fort Hall Reservation and the peace, safety, morals, and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Fort Hall Reservation.
1978 The Indian Child Welfare Act--It was passed on November 8. The purpose of the Act was to protect the best interests of Indian children, and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.
1978 Oliphant Decision--March 6. The Court held that Indian tribes do not possess power to try non-Indian criminal violators of tribal law in tribal court.
1984 Liquor enacted by Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Business Council.
1985 Changes made to Constitution allowing reservation-wide voting and a primary election prior to the general election.
*History taken from Idaho Indians Tribal Histories, Idaho Centennial Commission and the Idaho Museum of Natural History, 1992 reprint.

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Comments and questions: David Comer
Revised 26 Nov 2002