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William Henry Jackson’s 1971 Photo of a Sheepeater Family
source Cabin Creek Chronicle:
The Tukudika – Indians of the Wilderness
By Sheila D. Reddy Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regions 1 and 4 Heritage Program October 2002
Along the banks of the rivers and stream in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness are the remains of the homes of the American Indian people called the Tukudika, or Sheepeaters. The Tukudika were and are Northern Shoshone, members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe whose tribal offices are located on the Fort hall Reservation near Pocatello, Idaho.
Northern Shoshone speakers are included within a larger related group identified by common elements in their language. The Northern Shoshone belong to the central branch of the Numic sub-family of the Uto-Aztecan family of American Indian languages.
Between one and four thousand years ago early ancestors of the Northern Shoshone were living a rhythmic life of seasonal hunting and gathering within the arid desert core of the Great Basin. In the surrounding country were tribal groups whose lifeways depended and focused on lake/marsh settings and riparian environments.
About 1,100 years ago an episode of climatic change resulted in a serious decline in seasonal rain and snowfall. Tree-ring, pollen, and sedimentary records indicate an extended period of drought that resulted in a more arid regional landscape.
Groups who depended on wetlands for food and other resources saw marshes, rivers, creeks and springs turn to dust and remain dry. Tribes and bands who were unable, or unwilling to adapt to the desert environment began migrating, abandoning dusty riparian camps, village sites, hunting and gathering areas.
Ancestors of the Shoshone were well adapted to living in a drier environment. With the threat of competing tribes lessened, Numic bands began moving north and east into abandoned areas. Within their formal traditions the Shoshone carried ancient knowledge and a vast memory of technical information that would prove successful in drought-effected environments.
One group, the Northern Shoshone, continued migrating north until they reached the Snake River Plain. Their tribe was made up of bands of hunters and gatherers, people who traveled in small groups over the landscape utilizing all resources as they became available.
They moved with the seasons. Each spring after warming winds dried the old trails, families traveled to harvest camas and other roots in wet mountain meadows. Later when salmon and steelhead spawned, groups would gather with other families or bands at fishing camp sites on the lower Snake River, Salmon River or their tributaries to build weirs and fish traps. After catching and drying the fish the excess would be cached or stored for winter. After the aspen leaves began to leaf out, family bands returned to the mountains to hunt elk, deer and mountain sheep.
As the small fluid bands of Shoshone moved from one resource to another, they were named or identified by the food they were harvesting, or for a specific animal they hunted; one might say they became that food. For example, at Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, the bands fishing below the falls were referred to as “Salmon-eaters.” If a group moved east and hunted buffalo, they were called “Buffalo-eaters.” In the central Idaho wilderness a mountain band came to be identified as hunters of mountain sheep, the Tukudika or “Sheepeaters.”
Bands of Tukudika often remained to winter along the banks of the Salmon River and its tributaries. Hunting, fishing and gathering enough through the war seasons they cashed dried meat, fish, berries, and roots near winter camp sites. Those families living along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River built semi-subterranean pit houses on sandy river terraces, collecting driftwood from the river’s edge for their winter fires.
Even after explorers, fur trappers and traders, miners and farmers came into Idaho Territory, the Tukudika remained within their mountain stronghold. In Idaho’s last Indian war, the Sheepeater Campaign of 1879, the quiet reclusive hunters of the mountain sheep were forced into battle. From spring to late fall they defended their ancient homeland. Only after months of flight and constant fighting, after their homes and winter caches of meat had been destroyed, only after autumn had faded ad snow covered the ground did the Tukudika walked out of the trees towards the soldiers and the Indian scouts who had pursued them.
Along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River travelers can still see the remains of ancient fire hearths, pit houses, talus slope, talus slope hunting blinds, cached pits, pictographs (rock paintings). Out of respect for all people leave with empty hands, memories and photographs of the wilderness; remembering your footsteps mingled with those of the Tukudika within the wilderness.
source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
The Sheepeater Indians
Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series
Number 24 May, 1972
In identifying the different groups of Shoshoni Indians who lived in the Snake River country, one of the most common early mistakes was to regard them as consumers of distinctive foods and to name them for whatever they happened to be eating at the moment. (Some of them did specialize more than others in certain foods, but they all had to have a fair variety in order to survive.) Depending upon where they were at a given time, a Shoshoni group might subsist upon a particular food: a band fishing at Salmon Falls, for example, would be living off the salmon there, and a group digging camas on Camas Prairie might naturally be dining regularly on camas. Moreover, mounted bands of Shoshoni buffalo hunters, when accosted by white explorers or travelers, proudly referred to themselves as buffalo hunters. Most humble Shoshoni groups engaged in hunting rabbits likewise called themselves rabbit eaters, while the very same individuals, if found out gathering seeds or pine nuts became the seed eaters or the pine nut eaters, as the circumstances of the occasion determined. Since any given Shoshoni family or group usually went through several seasonal food-gathering phases, they might in the course of a year have been designated as several different kinds of eaters. This system had some merit for accuracy in designating the various people who might be in a particular place (such as Salmon Falls, or a pine nut area), but it did not accommodate bands or groups at all, since the groups were transient and thus capable of having altogether too many names ending in “eater” to be of much value for identification.
Some Shoshoni groups had become proficient at hunting mountain sheep in parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and were referred to as sheep eaters. (They actually called themselves big game eaters, but since their kind of big game proved to be mountain sheep, their name in English was corrupted into sheep eater.) But the sheep eaters of the Salmon River Mountains, when they camped on the Salmon to fish, turned into salmon eaters. One of these Salmon River sheep eater and salmon eater bands gained widespread fame at the beginning of the nineteenth century because it was the band to which Sacajawea belonged: that particular group had acquired horses and advanced to the noble station of buffalo hunters by the time that Lewis and Clark crossed the Continental Divide in 1805; and as horse owners, Sacajawea’s band was able to provide the explorers with pack horses to traverse the Lolo Trail on their way to navigable waters of the Clearwater. In later years, after the Mormon Salmon River mission at Fort Lemhi brought a new geographic name to the area, Sacajawea’s people eventually became known as the Lemhi Indians. Other central Salmon River groups, though, continued their skillful and highly-respected mountain sheep hunting, and were known as the Sheepeaters on through the nineteenth century.
Until the end of the Bannock War of 1878, the Sheepeaters lived relatively unmolested in their Salmon River mountain wilderness. Dr. Sven Liljeblad describes them as “less dependent on the gathering of wild crops than the Shoshoni south of them originally were. Their skin products were highly praised by other Indians and by the white fur traders. As the gold prospectors moved into their country and ruined their fishing, many of them joined their relatives among the Lemhi Indians for living and protection.” He notes further that “they lived as peaceful villagers under the leadership of trusted headmen; they shared cultural inventory and social traditions with all other Idaho Shoshoni in the early days. In many respects, they were culturally superior to any other Shoshoni groups on a pre-horse level of culture. Other Indians respectfully referred to them as ‘hunters of big game.'”
Except for Leesburg and Loon Creek miners, and for a few scattered ranchers on their borderland, whites had not penetrated very much into the Sheepeaters’ central wilderness area before the Bannock War. A number of Bannock refugees from the war were thought to have joined them when the Bannock cause collapsed as a military venture, and from that accretion they seem to have gained an entirely undeserved later reputation as a band of outcasts from other tribes. During the Bannock War, an ambush of four whites in Long Valley was attributed perhaps to the Sheepeaters, and the next winter the Loon Creek Chinese massacre at Orogrande was blamed off on the luckless Sheepeaters also. (On the basis of a careful ethnological investigation, Dr. Liljeblad rejects this latter aspersion as false in fact, just as the notion that the Sheepeaters were a band of outlaws turned out to be a gross misrepresentation.) In any event, the army decided to round up the Sheepeaters in the summer of 1879. After a difficult military campaign, some fifty of them — found at the very end of a long search that had to be called off for the winter — agreed to move to a reservation. Other sheepeaters eluded the army, and a few families continued to live their mountain life unmolested in its ancient pattern for another decade or two.
The information for this statement was provided to the staff of the Idaho Historical Society by: Dr. Sven Liljeblad, Idaho State College, Pocatello, Idaho. April 19, 1962.
Idaho State Historical Series
Warm Lake Area History
1878 17 June, Indians raided ranches in Indian Valley and ran off with about 60 head of horses. Four ranchers were in pursuit when they were ambushed at the Payette Falls (Cascade). Killed were Wm. Monday, Jake (John) Grosclose, and Tom Healy with “Three-Fingers” Smith badly wounded (Sheepeater Indian Campaign, P12). History sign says ambush was on Aug. 20, 1878. Another article in book Sheepeater Indian Campaign says this occurred on Aug. 17, 1878 P27. Their grave is located north of Cascade, west of SH55, on Vista Point Blvd. 0.7 mile and on the right side of the gravel road. A three foot high rock has “Grave” painted on it and the bronze marker is some 200 feet north of the road. This site is just north of the Cascade Dam.
1878 Aug. 20, Dan Crooks and Boone Helm (Bob Wilhelm on Historic Marker) were killed at Round Valley, presumably by Indians (Sheepeater Indian Campaign book p. 12). They were working a mine for a miner named Pearsol on a creek that now bears his name (USFS). Their grave is 1.5 miles east on the Little Pearsol Road from the Warm Lake Highway and about 150 feet south of the gravel road on a small knoll. A group called “Sons of Idaho” placed a marker stone at the site on Aug. 18, 1929. The gray granite stone is 1.5’ high by 2’ long.
1879 Feb., Indians killed 5 Chinese placer miners on Loon Creek. Source: Trails of the Frank Church-River of No Return p 250 and Sheepeater Indian Campaign p6 (back section) 1968 Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville, Idaho.
1879 March or April, Indians killed Hugh Johnson and Peter Dorsey on the South Fork near the Salmon River, some 35 air miles north of Warm Lake. Sheepeater Indian Campaign p 12 & USFS
1879 July 24, Captain R. F. Bernard and 60 cavalry camped at the northeast end of Warm Lake. They were part of the Sheepeater Campaign. Source: map from the book Sheepeater Indian Campaign.
1879 Aug. 15, James P. Raines was shot and killed by Indians on his South Fork ranch, while putting up hay (48 air miles north of Warm Lake). P14 front section and p14 back section of the book Sheepeater Indian Campaign.
1879 Aug. 20, Private Harry Eagan was shot and killed by Indians at Soldier Bar on Big Creek, 3 miles upstream from the Middle Fork of the Salmon. P17 back section of Sheepeater Indian Campaign.
1879 Oct., Sheepeater Campaign was concluded with surrender of 51 Indians. Source: Sheepeater Indian Campaign.
“Cougar” Dave Lewis was a government packer and scout during the Sheepeater Indian campaign. He had been a Union Soldier in the Civil War. Sheepeater Indian Campaign, p. 70. He lived on Big Creek and died at the Veteran’s Hospital in Boise at the age of 92. From the Boise Statesman June 25, 1936.
(link to Cougar Dave story)
excerpted from Warm Lake Area History
1879 Sketch Map of Middle Idaho Showing Trails Made by Troops in Sheepeater Campaign 1879. (1926)
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Click source link for high quality zoomable very large map
Title Sketch Map of Middle Idaho Showing Trails Made by Troops in Sheepeater Campaign 1879. (1926)
Creator Brown, W. C. (William Carey), 1854-1939.
Date Original 1926
Publisher [Boise, Id. : Syms-York Company]
Description 1 map: 29 x 22 cm. Scale: 1 inch = 15 miles. Trails and marches of campaign drawn on map. W.C. Brown was a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars of the late 1870s. These maps come from a book by him, published in 1926 after his retirement, about the Sheepeater Campaign. …
source: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
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Sheepeater Campaign 1879
by Col W.C. Brown (Retired)
For several years this office has been compiling information in relation to the Indian Wars of the late seventies. In the latter part of 1924, I secured from Col. W. C. Brown, who was with Farrow’s Scouts as second in command during the entire Sheepeater Campaign of 1879, a promise that he would prepare a historical article for the present Biennial Report. Colonel Brown has performed that very important service and his article will appear as a part of the report of this Department, and is probably the first and only authentic statement that has been compiled of the Sheepeater Campaign. Colonel Brown has fortified himself with excerpts from military reports and from the diaries of himself ana several officers and one private participating in this campaign, and the thanks of this department and the State of Idaho should be extended to him for his efforts in clarifying and recording the facts involving the campaign of 1879.
Considerable attention has been given in the public prints during the last few months to facts growing out of this campaign, on account of the recent death of Lieutenant Farrow, who commanded Farrow’s Scouts, and one or two other officers connected with the campaign. Much information that has been given out has either been inaccurate or incomplete, and Colonel Brown’s contribution, including the maps and pictures which he has used, will be of decided service to every one interested in the accurate record of historical facts.
I should perhaps here note that the original manuscript from which this article is printed will be filed with the Historical Society, and, as shown by this article, it is the intention of Colonel Brown to file in the permanent archives of the Department copies of the diaries made by himself. Captain Bernard, who was in command; Lieutenant Pitcher, an officer under Bernard, and Edgar Heffner, a private, also in Bernard’s command. If Colonel Brown has in any way hesitated about giving every historical fact of value in connection with the Sheepeater Campaign, it may be noted that such hesitation was probably prompted by a desire to eliminate himself from the facts recorded. In accordance with this suggestion, I find upon examination of the official report that Colonel Brown has quoted the same with exactness, except in the matter of Bernard’s report to Howard, dated August 19th, 1879. From this report Colonel Brown has deleted the following: “Lieutenant W. C. Brown was on foot during the entire skirmish, and was first man to enter the Indian camp.” I assume that Colonel Brown’s modesty was the motive for this deletion, and have called attention to this fact without consulting him upon the subject. The Indian camp, referred to in Howard’s report, was the Sheepeater camp, first entered by Lieutenant Brown, according to Bernard’s report, when Farrow’s Scouts, then a part of Bernard’s command, were pursuing the Indians down Big Creek toward the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
– Ella Carter Reed.
Read the book at: The Sheepeater Campaign By Col. W. C. Brown, U. S. A., Retired.
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Col. W. C. Brown
source The Sheepeater Campaign By Col. W. C. Brown, U. S. A., Retired.
— — — — — — — —
The Sheepeater Indian War of 1879
The Sheepeater Indian War of 1879 was the last Indian war fought in the Pacific Northwest portion of the United States. A band of approximately 300 Western Shoshone, (Turakina, or Tukuaduku), were known as the Sheepeaters because their diet consisted of the Rocky Mountain Sheep. They were not a sedentary tribe, instead moving throughout the Payette, Salmon, Boise, Challis, Sawtooth, and Beaverhead Forests to follow the game. They camped only in the winter, but the location varied widely. The campaign against the Sheepeaters primarily took place in central Idaho.
As with many other disputes with Indians, the troubles with white man started when gold was discovered in the Boise Basin in 1862 and in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River. That location, and another gold camp on Panther Creek, were right in the middle of Sheepeater winter camps. By 1870, Leesburg on Panther Creek had 7,000 prospectors hunting for gold.
Leading up to the war the Sheepeaters were accused of stealing horses from settlers in Indian Valley and during the pursuit killing three of the settlers near present day Cascade. In August 1878, they were accused of killing two prospectors in an ambush at Pearsall Creek, five miles from Cascade. By February of 1879 the Sheepeaters were accused of the murders of five Chinese miners at Orogrande, the murders at Loon Creek, and finally the murders of two ranchers in the South Fork of the Salmon River in May. However, later it was proven that Indians had nothing to do with the attack.
General O. O. Howard dispatched 76 men including scouts and freighters from Boise to Challis to investigate the matter. Also deployed was a detachment of men from the Second Infantry under First Lieutenant Catley and men listed under Lieutenant Edward Farrow. The troops were all heading toward Payette Lake, near present day McCall. Bernard headed North from Boise barracks, Catley headed Southeast from Camp Howard at Grangeville, and Farrow headed East from the Umatilla Agency.
Heading the campaign against the Sheepeaters was Company G of the 1st Cavalry led by Colonel Bernard. They had a difficult time of it traveling through six foot snow drifts and fast running streams. They became separated from their pack train for several days. Some provisions were lost, but in ten days they arrived at Orogrande.
Much of the town had been burned. The troops waited an additional five days for their supply train, which arrived on June 13. A week later, the troops went to search for sign of Indians. They marched on to Challis, Salmon City, and Warren’s Diggings without success. Throughout the campaign, the troops faced difficulty with travelling through the rough terrain. The first segment of the campaign, from May 31 to September 8, was through the Salmon River dubbed the “River of No Return” because it was barely navigable. They traveled up the Middle Fork of the Salmon for several weeks enduring all sorts of severe weather. They lost some animals, ammunition, and much of their supplies. Five men contracted mountain fever and were sent home to recuperate. Fortunately, it was summer and game was plenty.
Meanwhile, the force from Camp Howard had reached the Big Creek Canyon near the South Fork of the Salmon River. Scouts observed sign of Indians on July 28. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Catley did not pay heed to the warning. He was leading his command up the canyon when Indians opened fire from all sides. Two men were seriously wounded, but were able to reach shelter. Shortly afterward, Catley commanded his men to retreat since the Indians had the high ground.
The soldiers regrouped about two miles away from the spot and camped for the night. The next morning the soldiers tried to locate a more defensible position but were somewhat encumbered by the two wounded men who had been put on litters. Unfortunately for them, the Indians were able to gain ground on two sides of Catley’s detachment. The Indians set fire to the base of a mountain where the soldiers were camped. First Sergeant John A. Sullivan’s quick thinking probably saved the day by burning an area closest to them to keep the fire from spreading. The Indians left during the night. This battle took place at a spot later named Vinegar Hill. The soldiers had gotten themselves trapped on the steep cliffs and had to leave much of their gear and supplies behind. Because of this, Catley decided to return to Camp Howard to re-outfit themselves. They headed back in August.
In the meantime, Bernard’s command received word to join Lt. Farrow, who was pursuing some Indians, which turned out to be a gang of horse thieves. Subsequently they received word of Catley’s defeat. Bernard sent word for additional troops and supplies to join him at South Fork of the Salmon. Lt. Farrow and his Umatilla scouts plus two platoons joined him at the North Payette River near the hot springs. The larger company marched for several days and passed through country that the Indians had previously burned. They also lost several more pack animals and many provisions. Meals were scant for a few days until the resupply train caught up with Catley and about 40 men on August 11.
The combined force passed campsites that appeared to be still in use. Indian fish traps were found in a creek. Indian sign was plentiful. The force reached the area where Catley had been attacked. Umatilla scouts who had gone on ahead had not returned and a soldier was dispatched to discover their whereabouts. The Umatilla scouts had discovered the Sheepeaters a few miles in advance. The soldiers spurred their horses on but upon reaching the Indian village they discovered all the occupants had left. The Umatilla scouts took what goods they wanted and the soldiers burned the rest.
The soldiers rested there until the next morning but soon word came the Indians were still in the area and mounted. Catley and his men headed back toward Camp Howard as they were desperately short of supplies. The rest of the command split up in search of the Indians. By August 20, a Sheepeater raiding party of ten to fifteen Indians attacked the troops as they rode on a train at Soldier Bar on Big Creek. As soon as the men were spread out on a precipitous mountain the Indians opened fire. At the same time they fired on the men guarding the animals and provisions. Those who defended the train included Corporal Charles B. Hardin along with six troopers and the chief packer, James Barnes. They managed to successfully drive the Sheepeaters off with only one casualty, Private Harry Eagan. The Indians retreated after nightfall.
But the soldiers continued to follow their tracks. The trail was very rocky and hard on the animals’ feet. Many more animals gave out from sheer exhaustion. They lost two dozen more horses that strayed off during the night. Many men had to go on foot until the horses were found toward the end of the next day. Finally the soldiers had to return to Camp Howard for supplies. Food was running low and the soldiers missed several meals. The Umatillas stayed behind to engage the hostiles.
On September 17, the soldiers set out again. They came upon an Indian camp right away, but there was no one there since the Indians had been warned. They were able to take an Indian woman and two of her children captive. A third ran away. Then an Indian named Tanmanmo, half Nez Perce and half Bannock, surrendered to the soldiers. He appeared to be a war chief. He promised to bring in the rest of the warriors that were harassing the whites. Lt. Farrow told him that no harm would come to those who had not killed anyone.
It took some days, but by October 1 the campaign ended once Lieutenants W.C. Brown and Edward S. Farrow, along with a group of twenty Umatilla scouts, negotiated the surrender of 51 men, women, and children. The prisoners were taken to the Vancouver Barracks in Washington State. The troops went back to Boise after marching 1,258 miles through mostly unmapped territory. The Indians were questioned and though they admitted to the attack on the Rain’s ranch, they denied killing Johnson and Dorsey and the five Chinese. They were resettled on the Fort Hall Reservation. A few small bands remained in the area having eluded the army and continued to live their mountain life unmolested in its ancient pattern for another decade or two.
source The Third Millennium Online:
With the end of the Bannock War, attention was turned to the Sheepeaters – a Shoshoni group of expert hunters who had the skill necessary to pursue mountain sheep in the Salmon River Mountains. A massacre of five Chinese miners on Loon Creek on February 12, 1879, was blamed on some refugees from the Bannock War who were thought to have spent the winter with the local Sheepeaters. Army units went out in the spring of 1879 to ask the Sheepeaters if they knew who was responsible for the Loon Creek Chinese disaster. Deep snow held back the search for the Sheepeaters, who lived in rough country largely unknown to the whites. Suspicious of army intentions after the Nez Perce and Bannock wars of the previous two years, the Sheepeaters decided to resist. Ten or a dozen of them ambushed and defeated forty eight mounted infantry who were accompanied by twenty or more scouts and packers. After this engagement on Big Creek, July 29, one energetic Sheepeater halted the army retreat on a mountain ridge. The resulting battle of Vinegar Hill turned into an incredible fourteen-hour siege in which a handful of Indians pinned down the entire white force. Another, better-managed army expedition managed to catch up with the Sheepeaters at Soldier Bar, a little farther down on Big Creek, on August 20. Again confronted with overwhelming numbers, the Sheepeaters scattered into the Salmon River wilderness. Soon the army, exhausted by the difficult twelve-hundred-mile campaign, had to retire. Still another military expedition set out on September 16 and, after a two weeks’ search, managed to catch up with the elusive warriors. They explained that they had nothing to do with the Loon Creek Chinese massacre but agreed to go out with the army and to settle on a reservation. Thus the campaign ended without a battle, and more than fifty Sheepeaters retired from their wilderness homeland. Most of them were women and children. Only ten to fifteen warriors had participated in the entire campaign, which lasted longer than the Nez Perce War. The perpetrators of the outrage against the Chinese never were found, but the somewhat clumsy military investigation of the incident brought the army campaigns against the Idaho Indians to an end. Some of the Sheepeaters avoided the army, and Eagle Eye’s band did not move to the Fort Hall reservation for many years.
source Idaho State University:
1879 The First Map Ever Made of Country Between Big Creek and Salmon River, I.T. (1926)
click map for low quality larger map size
click source link for high quality zoomable very large map
Title The First Map Ever Made of Country Between Big Creek and Salmon River, I.T. (1926)
Creator Brown, W. C. (William Carey), 1854-1939.
Date Original 1926
Publisher [Boise, Id. : Syms-York Company]
Description 1 map: 15 x 22 cm. Scale: 1 inch = 7 miles. A handwritten note by the author is in red pencil on the left. W.C. Brown was a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars of the late 1870s. These maps come from a book by him, published in 1926 after his retirement, about the Sheepeater Campaign. …
source: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
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“That night, after the moon had got down…”
Lt. Catley’s 1879 Affair on Vinegar Hill
Payette National Forest Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
January 2011 By Michael H. Koeppen
Deep in the backcountry of central Idaho, in today’s Frank Church Wilderness, lays a non-descript, grass covered ridge. Along this ridgeline, which runs in a short to north direction, is a point marked on the map as Vinegar Hill. To the east of the ridge, and parallel to it, runs Cabin Creek, and at the south end of the ridge, the storied Big Creek.
Although the ridge has been quiet with only the wind and elk along it for well over a century, in July of 1879, it was the scene of an encounter between two cultures. This incident, the Battle of Vinegar Hill, was between Lieutenant Henry Catley’s 2nd Mounted Infantry of the United States Army and a handful of Sheepeater Indians defending their homeland and last stronghold.
Lieutenant Catley, along with Lieutenants E.K. Webster and W.C. Muhlenberg, led forty eight soldiers from Fort Howard, in Grangeville, Idaho, south and east across the Salmon River and Chamberlain Basin to Big Creek, as part of a multi-pronged plan to capture the Sheepeaters and forcibly place them onto a reservation. Descending Big Creek on July 29th, Catley and his men reached the large, open flat at the mouth of Cabin Creek, from which they descended into the canyon below.
After about two miles at a narrow, rocky place later known as the “First Crossing,” they encountered a fusillade of bullets from Indians concealed in the rocks. Two troopers were wounded and the soldiers retreated back to the open flat. Regrouping from this rout, Catley chose to camp for the evening at Cabin Creek, a half mile away. After a tense, but quiet night, the following morning the fateful decision was made to abandon the field and return to camp Howard. Catley picked the ridgeline, “which was alongside our camp to the north,” according to Lieutenant Muhlenberg, hoping it was a good escape route to Cold Meadow.
As they moved up the ridge, soldiers observed an Indian riding a horse into their abandoned campsite, and a few shots were fired downwards. Proceeding upward, small groups of troopers under Lieutenant Muhlenberg would move forward. In this manner, they continued until some Sheepeaters, having ridden up Cabin Creek and the side of the ridge, cut them off.
While riding across a saddle to the next promontory, a shot was fired at scout Dave Monroe, riding just ahead of Catley. Panicked, Catley ordered the men to fall back to the previous point, where they took positions as best they could, in the rocks and behind their baggage. Muhlenberg, though, believed only one Indian was ahead of them at this point.
Trapped here, the men exchanged at least four shots with the Sheepeaters, who, according to Muhlenberg, fired only five shots in return. Subsequently, the Indians lit fires to try to burn the command off the hilltop. Backfires, lit by Sgt. John Sullivan and some of his men, and a change in the wind saved the soldiers from the ascending flames. Sitting out the rest of the hot afternoon, the soldiers stayed on the hill, and, according to legend, had only vinegar to drink.
During the night, it was decided to abandon the bulk of the equipment and provisions and flee off the ridge to the west. Around 2 AM, and, “…after the moon had got down,” according to Catley, the soldiers muffled the mule bells and began the steep descent into Cave Creek, reaching the bottom at daybreak, losing sixteen pack mules in the dark. From here, they ascended the ridge to the west and successfully followed the ridgelines north to Cold Meadows.
On their way out of the wilderness, Catley’s command was intercepted, combined with Lieutenant Albert Forse’s twenty-five men, and turned back to Big Creek to rejoin the campaign.
Although the Sheepeaters took what they wanted of the soldier’s gear, much was left on what became known as Vinegar Hill. Over the years, casual visitors to the ridge top carried away items such as boots, saddlebags, and even a few rifles. Some of these items were later lost in a house fire, and some are held in private hands to this day, unavailable for public viewing. As the years went by, remnants of the equipment faded from the hilltop, and even the location was lost in time, By the 1980’s it was generally believed that physical evidence of the soldiers no longer existed, and that locating the Vinegar Hill site was no longer possible.
Personally for many years, I had an interest in the Sheepeater War from boating the nearby Middle Fork of the Salmon River, but knew only what was written in the river guidebook. However, in the spring of 2009 I volunteered for the Payette National Forest Heritage Program, headed by archaeologist Larry Kingsbury. Kingsbury was enthusiastic, and our goal was to search the Vinegar Hill Ridge in an attempt to find the precise location of the 1879 skirmish.
That May, I flew into Cabin Creek to begin the search. Fortunately, a wildfire had burned over parts of the ridge the previous summer, causing fresh erosion down several gullies. It was while ascending one of these gullies, that I came upon part of a broken three-legged iron pot. Searching further up the slope, I was able to recover several more pieces.
With confirmation of the iron pot’s age from Kingsbury, I returned the following March camping for two days at the Cabin Creek Airstrip. With my two dogs for company, I began a more detailed examination of the ridge. Initially, nothing was found on Vinegar Hill. Frustrated, I reread the soldier accounts and moved the search to another area.
Soon, on semi-frozen slope, molten glass fragments, an iron button, and square nails were discovered. They were exciting, but not conclusive evidence of the soldiers. Moving to a nearby, sun exposed area, I discovered the end of a cartridge case protruding out of the gravelly soil. I picked it up, recognizing immediately what it was – an unfired 45-70 military cartridge. Further searching resulted in the recovery of ten cartridges, four having been fires.
Although most artifacts from the soldiers had been removed years ago, enough remained to conclusively mark the location of the Vinegar Hill engagement. Concerned about future visitation, I returned later to carefully and systematically cover the skirmish site a second time, making sure all remaining artifacts were recovered. Today the Vinegar Hill artifacts are in the care of the Payette National Forest Heritage Program, located at the Supervisor’s Office in McCall, Idaho.
source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
Mountain Howitzer – Civil War Era
link to larger size:
link to larger size:
link to larger size:
source Civil War Wiki
The Big Creek Cannon: Fact or Legend?
1879 Sheepeater War
Payette National Forest Heritage Program May 2011 By Michael H. Koeppen
After the close of the Sheepeater War in the fall of 1879, Indian hostilities ceased, and the U.S. soldiers trailed out of the vast Idaho wilderness. With time, signs of the trails, camps and skirmish sites returned to nature, so that today evidence is difficult to find, and then only to the hardy wilderness explorer. Much of the scene of this conflict lies within the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, with the only two skirmish sites located in the Big Creek drainage, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
For many years rumors and stories have persisted concerning a cannon, more specifically a mountain howitzer, abandoned in the field by the soldiers. The fact that the mountain howitzer could be disassembled and carried by mules, and was available to soldiers at the time, leads to interesting speculation as to the validity of these tales.
Over the years stories have been told of people finding the lost cannon, refusing to divulge its location, and taking it to the grave with them. One story concerns two brothers who saw the gun, took a photograph of it (which has since disappeared), and told the tale later in life calling it the “Big Creek Cannon.” Another rumor has hunters along Big Creek near Taylor Ranch getting lost and stumbling upon the gun, but after getting back to camp being unable to relocate it. Still more rumors of a cannon lying in a meadow in the headwaters of Disappointment Creek to the north. Another story that there were actually two cannons rather than one. Still another rumor of a cave discovered by a packer in the 1930’s which contained crates of rifles and the cannon carriage. Usually these stories are secondhand and sometimes third hand. Some stories, obviously false, place the cannon far from where the soldiers traveled.
Is there any evidence that these stories have any foundation in reality? First of all, what do the soldiers’ diaries from the campaign have to say concerning a cannon? Do any of these accounts mention anything about a mountain howitzer in the possession of the troops? An examination of the writings of the overall field commander Captain Reuben F. Bernard; Lieutenants W.C. Brown, A.G. Forse, W.C. Muhlenberg, and Henry Catley; Private Edgar Hoffner and Corporal C.B. Hardin, all participants, should prove clues to this possibility.
Unfortunately for the cannon stories, none of these men ever mention a cannon in the possession of any body of troops in the campaign. In fact there are numerous times when such mention would be appropriate, especially of an item as prestigious as a howitzer, yet nothing is said. Of the troops, they generally were in three main groups, Bernard’s 1st Cavalry, Farrow’s Umatilla Scouts, and Catley’s 2nd Mounted Infantry.
Lt. William Carey Brown, who accompanied Lt. Farrow, wrote one of the most thorough accounts of the campaign (Brown 1879). Brown makes no mention of a cannon, and it is unlikely that Farrow’s scouts would be so equipped considering the mobility required of this group, and the fact that most of their members were Native Americans. Farrow had twenty Umatilla Indian scouts along with seven enlisted men, four packers and twenty pack animals (Brown 1926:29).
Private Edgar Hoffner in Bernard’s command wrote an extensive diary, full of details about equipment and life during the campaign (Hoffner 1879). Hoffner stated that when the troops left the Boise Barracks they and thirty pack mules, which carried “blankets, clothing, rations, and ammunition.” (Hoffner 1879:1) Again no mention of a cannon is made. Later in Hoffner’s diary he mentions other items carried by the soldiers such as blankets, boxes of hardtack, tents, horseshoes ammunition, picks and shovels, a medicine chest , and horseshoe nails (Hoffner 1879: 2,3,5,8,9,14). Why did something as notable as a cannon not catch Hoffner’s attention?
While along the Middle Fork numerous written accounts describe pack animals having to jump high logs over the trail (Hoffner 1879:9), mules swimming the river (Hoffner 1978:9), and bridging streams swollen by spring runoff (Hoffner 1879: 5,8,14). One of these streams, Loon Creek, was bridged by cutting and falling trees across the water (Hoffner 1879:8, Bernard 1879:18). The horses could swim the creek but the heavily laden mules could not, so the soldiers carried the gear and provisions across the logs. It should have been noteworthy if a heavy cannon was carried across logs bridging raging waters.
Lieutenant Catley’s command, after being ambushed on July 29th in Big Creek, retreated to what later became known as Vinegar Hill. When he fled in the middle of the night, much equipment (Catley 1879:158, Brown 1879:3, Lewis 1925:3) was abandoned and later found by casual visitors to the hill in the early 20th century (Gillihan 2010, Martin 1924).
When the Vinegar Hill site was rediscovered in March of 2010, further items abandoned by Catley’s forces were recovered (Koeppen 2010). None of these items are connected to, or provide evidence of a mountain howitzer. In contrast, during investigations into the 1874 Red River War in Texas, archaeologists found primers, priming wire, and lead shot associated with a cannon present in the battle (Cruse 2008:204-205).
During the Vinegar Hill, Soldier Bar, and Big Creek surveys (Koeppen 2010), extensive searches were made of likely areas for the cannon to be hidden, all with negative results. In addition, although numerous artifacts were discovered at Soldier Bar related to the Sheepeater Campaign, none of them as at Vinegar Hill provided clues of a cannon being present. Since some of the cannon stories feature a gun placed in a cave or rock shelter, rocky areas on Vinegar Hill, Soldier Bar, and between Taylor Ranch and Soldier Bar were examined during the surveys.
After considering the lack of evidence provided by the soldiers’ accounts written by Bernard, Hoffner, Brown, Catley, Muhlenburg, Forse, Lewis and Hardin, and from field investigations, it is the author’s opinion that It is unlikely that the soldiers possessed a cannon during the campaign of 1879. So until such a time that more evidence comes to light, the stories of the “Big Creek Cannon” while tantalizing, must be considered only legends.
source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
Eagle Eye’s Band
By Sheila Reddy August 1996
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regions 1 and 4 Heritage Program
Eagle Eye, the last chief of the Tukudika (Sheepeater band) of Northern Shoshone, was not among the Indians captured during Idaho’s last Indian war, the 1879 Sheepeater Campaign. He and his family had retreated to a small secluded valley in Dry Buck basin west of Banks, Idaho, where they lived quiet lives trying to attract as little attention as possible. Only on a few occasions were they seen.
In 1881, Norman B. Willey sent the following article about an Indian sighting to The Nez Perce News, Lewiston, Idaho Territory:
“May 24, 1881: Thos. Clay, mail carrier on the Indian Valley route from here (Warren), brought us news yesterday of a ripple of Indian excitement in Little Salmon and Long Valley last week. A man named Wilson, who traps in that region, while making his daily rounds in the lower end of Long Valley, saw a couple of Indian boys nearby. He himself was not observed, and he watched their motions; they were endeavoring to catch birds along the river, and when out of sight, he made a bee-line for the settlement in Little Salmon (New Meadows), some 25 miles distant. The famil(ies) were gathered in the most central place, and the next day the able bodied men of the neighborhood who had sufficient arms, returned to the scene. They found the camp, but the Indians had left, taking the Indian trail across the divide that separates Long Valley and Indian Valley… The party apparently consists of three bucks, two squaws, the two boys, and a child. A visit to their camp indicated that they are entirely destitute of ammunition. They had peeled bark from a great many trees and had been scraping and apparently living on the soft portions of it, but there was not a bone or feather to be found, although game was plenty thereabouts. They are supposed to be (with) a well known Indian named Andy Johnson” (June 9, 1881 issue).
The editor of The Nez Perce News, Aaron Parker, added this postscript to Willey’s article, “Andy Johnson is, or was, a sub-chief of the Weiser Indians, and a brother-in-law of Eagle Eye, chief of the same band…”
In the June 23, 1881 issue, The Nez Perce News, Willey added: “Nothing has been heard of the Indians seen lately in Long Valley. There is a large section of unoccupied hills and mountains between Long Valley and Indian Creek, Crane’s Creek, and Willow Creek where they could range all summer. No one can say what farm or house they will burn or what farmer or stock herder they will first pounce upon and massacre.”
But, Eagle Eye and his band continued living quietly at Dry Buck, building log homes, planting gardens and orchards. Anthropologist Sven Liljeblad (1972) wrote of Eagle Eye’s band:
“As far back in time as their memories reached, the valley from the bend of the (Payette) river to Payette Lake had been their summer range where they had gathered food, fished and hunted deer… As long as their old headman (Eagle Eye) had lived, highly esteemed by both settlers and officials, the Indians had stubbornly refused to leave their village. After his death (in 1896), the intimidated Indians, rather to be safe than sorry, decided to move to Fort Lemhi where they had relatives. One day in early summer sometime about the turn of the century, they left their little farmsteads where the apple trees had just shed their blossoms, never to see them again. As they wanted to avoid traveling over public roads and much frequented trails, it took them the whole summer to cross the mountains. Although the loss these emigrants had suffered in having to give up their native ground… must have been appalling to them all, some of them and their children in time became citizens with great prestige in their new community.”
Idaho historian Merle Wells told of visiting Eagle Eye’s farm in Dry Buck basin in 1963 with Dr. Liljeblad and members of Eagle Eye’s family. The trip was taken in response to a request to visit the area by Josephine Thorpe, Eagle Eye’s granddaughter:
“…this group (on the expedition) included a number of Eagle Eye’s descendants: his great grandson (and Mrs. Thorpe’s son) Frank, as well as some great-great-grandchildren. Mrs. Thorpe who had attended Eagle Eye’s funeral on top of Timber Butte, wished to return to her grandfather’s grave, and I promised to find them a practical route to the site. On the way, we toured Dry Buck basin, where Eagle Eye and his people had worked in a sawmill when Mrs. Thorpe was a child. There we found some of Eagle Eye’s apple trees (or their descendants) that Mrs. Thorpe remembered.
“An interesting basin west of Banks, Dry Buck had provided a secluded home for the last of Idaho’s non-reservation Indian bands. Eagle Eye had led a prominent group of mountain Northern Shoshoni-known to the whites as Sheepeaters – from at least the time of the Snake war of 1866-1868 through the rest of the nineteenth century… After his funeral, his band retired to Fort Hall, where his granddaughter (Josephine Thorpe) became a successful rancher on Lincoln Creek.”
source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
Bow and arrow of Eagle Eye, chief of the Weiser Indians who died in Drybuck Valley, Boise County, Idaho in 1896.
Shoshoni Chief Eagle Eye’s Bow and Arrows captured from him in Idaho Territory, 1868
Length 34 in. the bow; Length 26 3/4 in. the longest arrow
“This important bow and arrow set of historical significance is a masterpiece of American Indian archery. It is a composite bow of wood, sinew backed and sealed with pitch and/or animal tallow, with rawhide wrappings at its grip area concealing bird quills and exhibiting good age and manufacture. This perfectly tillered bow, the relationship and balance of each bow limb to pull uniformly, is a perfect example of the type used in the northwestern Plains and eastern Plateau. Its pull weight would be estimated to be about 40 pounds. Only a few similar examples exist, some made from elk antler are even more rare… The bow retains its original multi-strand, twisted sinew string, again demonstrating a high degree of skill in its making.
“Of the thousands of arrows this author has seen, these arrows represent the finest example of a ‘Plains’ type self-arrow, that is, of one-piece construction. They average 25 inches in length and the 1/4 inches diameter midsection tapers gracefully to both the distal and proximal end, which finishes in a perfectly expanding nock. Two straight shallow grooves representing ‘spirit lines’ are evident on each arrow. These arrows are carefully hand-hewn to be of the correct spine, meaning, matched to the bow’s weight for perfect cast. Few aboriginal arrows exhibit such care in manufacture. The well-fitted points are of native manufacture, and the short cropped fletching would give uniform and speedy flight. There is no doubt this matched set represents one of the best examples of the American Indian bowyer’s craft and would be a very formidable weapon in the hands of a warrior on horseback.”
The words “Eagle Eye Chief of Weiser Snake Indians, August, 1868” and “Presented to Col. Sinclair…”
source Heritage Auctions, HA.com:
Eagle Eye and his Weiser Shoshoni associates had an extraordinary experience accommodating their traditional way of life to changes imposed by the nineteenth-century ranchers and farmers who settled in their ancestral domain. More than an ordinarily adaptable group, they had Mountain Shoshoni origins that helped them resist pressure to move to a distant Indian reservation in an unfamiliar area. All of Idaho’s Mountain Shoshoni people went to a great deal of effort to retain their long-established range. Their ancestors had a tradition of hunting mountain sheep in a wilderness that few other people could penetrate.
Many of them preserved their customs and continued to occupy their mountain strongholds in Wyoming, as well as in Idaho, for two decades after mining and ranching commenced in more accessible areas. Others had shifted to adjacent ranges—notably in Idaho’s Lemhi and Weiser valleys—after they obtained horses a century prior to gold rush intrusions into their borderlands. More than other Shoshoni peoples, they succeeded in avoiding removal to reservations. That way, Eagle Eye’s Weiser group made a surprisingly successful transition to a new way of life without leaving their old homeland. Other Northern Shoshoni people who inhabited reservations after 1867 had a much less satisfactory time. An important lesson in Indian acculturation can be learned from Eagle Eye’s successful program of adaptation to life in a hostile mining and ranching environment.
Unlike Wyoming’s Mountain Shoshoni, Idaho’s sheep hunters had a long era of close contact with the plateau culture of their Nez Perce neighbors. Occupying a zone of cultural interchange between Great Basin and plateau elements over a long prehistoric period, Idaho’s Northern Shoshoni gained additional cultural exposure when many of them began to travel on horseback and to have more contact with Great Plains Shoshoni who expanded from Texas to Saskatchewan and Alberta before 1780. Some Mountain Shoshoni adopted more of a Plains way of life and added long buffalo hunts to their migratory pattern. These included a Lemhi Valley group that ranged into Montana. In addition, a Weiser group farther west occupied a smaller Idaho area.
Shortly after 1800, Idaho’s Lemhi and Weiser Shoshoni had an opportunity to add features of a fourth—and very different—cultural variety to their ever-changing way of life. Fur hunters based in Montreal and Saint Louis came to the area with guns. traps. iron utensils. and new economic pursuits. These affected Plains Shoshoni more than their mountain neighbors. Eagle Eye’s Weiser people avoided much of that impact for a while, and traditional mountain sheep hunters were hardly disturbed at all. But after 1860, when miners and ranchers suddenly rushed into some of their lands, Eagle Eye and his Weiser Shoshoni had to meet serious new challenges.
Mining pressures affected Eagle Eye’s Nez Perce neighbors a year of two before his own people were displaced. Eagle-from-the-Light and his important lower Salmon Nez Perce band (a village led by White Bird after Eagle-from-the-light retired to Montana in 1875) resisted mining expansion into their territory. But after his call for war against miners in Florence failed to drive all gold hunters from their Salmon River mines, Eagle-from-the-Light moved to join Eagle Eye’s Weiser Shoshoni. By 1862, a Boise Basin gold rush brought a worse threat to all Shoshoni of that area. Farm settlements around the lower Boise forced them to move their traditional summer salmon fishing festival north to Eagle Eye’s upper Weiser country, where it continued to attract a variety of tribes for another decade and more. Military raids against Idaho’s Indians also proved troublesome after 1862. Most army efforts during the Snake War, for instance, focused on finding Shoshoni to fight; but, generally, Northern Paiute and Northern Shoshoni vanished when miners or military showed up. In fact, from early fur trade days. the Shoshoni were noted for their skill In evading intruders who annoyed or threatened them.
Eagle Eye could not avoid central Oregon’s Snake War that affected Idaho from 1866 to 1868, and a decade later, his Weiser Shoshoni experienced more conflict during General O. O. Howard’s campaign against Buffalo Horn’s Bannock forces. Eagle Eye’s sons took great pride in their father’s diplomatic skill in avoiding excessive embroilment in that unavoidable disturbance. More importantly, in 1878, Eagle Eye was reportedly killed during the Bannock conflict. That false report helped him considerably during his later career, because hostile army authorities ceased to look for him, and he was able to disappear with his Weiser survivors into Idaho’s mountain wilderness. Gradually, he and his extended family underwent a remarkable cultural change that few other Northern Shoshoni could match.
Eagle Eye’s consistent and determined refusal to accept reservation life enabled him and his people to acculturate more successfully than most other Northern Shoshoni who could not avoid that alternative. Even though reservations were supposed to promote acculturation, those who lived on them generally failed to do as well as Eagle Eye’s group, who stayed on their own land. Eagle Eye and his followers were resourceful enough to go into a mining and lumber business with settlers in Eagle Eye’s Dry Buck Basin refuge near the ancient Timber Butte obsidian tool center. A few Nez Perce refugees joined them in an isolated, nonreservation community that lasted until a little after 1900. Eagle Eye, who survived there until 1896, emerged as a highly respected Shoshoni leader who succeeded, largely because he got so little publicity. His descendants—well educated and capable of operating in a new culture as well as in their traditional ways—finally moved to Fort Hall and became reservation leaders.
Many Northern Shoshoni gained prominence through their success in developing large mounted bands that impressed early trappers and settlers by their size and power. Other Northern Shoshoni, particularly Mountain Shoshoni, chose a less spectacular way of life. Eagle Eye’s people represent those who followed this more conservative approach, and who finally adapted more successfully because they avoided reservation life and retained their ancient homeland with a tenacity characteristic of their Mountain Shoshoni heritage. Their variety of cultural experiences gave them an importance that most of their neighbors could not duplicate.
Several important aspects of nineteenth-century Indian adjustment to disruption of their traditional culture became evident in a comparison of Eagle Eye’s experience with misadventures of other bands exposed to reservation life. More than a few settlers preferred to engage in military campaigns in order to wipe out Idaho’s Shoshoni peoples altogether. Such attempts succeeded at Bear River and Salmon Falls, as well as in part of Oregon’s Malheur country where an expedition of Idaho miners inflicted substantial damage to Northern Paiute inhabitants. Most Northern Shoshoni managed to elude that kind of military pursuit. With notable exceptions. the majority of Northern Shoshoni survivors were confined to the reservation at Fort Hall where they were expected to become farmers and adopt a new culture. For a decade. they were forced by the absence of resources and by the failure of Fort Hall reservation officials to provide supplies to go in numbers to Eagle Eye’s Weiser country each summer. Reservation authorities compiled a poor record in their attempts to force an alien culture upon their Shoshoni and Bannock residents. In retrospect, the Indians’ failure can be explained by a natural resistance to agents trying to destroy their traditions and to suppress their culture. Other aspects of unacceptable reservation administration have been identified as well. In contrast to reservation life, Eagle Eye’s people preserved their language and organization while they worked in gold Mines or sawmills operated by local settlers. Living on their own land, they decided what they wanted to do without having to give up their old ways. Andy Johnson, for example, retained his marvelous ability to tell Shoshoni folk tales while he served as a ditch rider for some lower Boise farmers, men who did not undermine his cultural values. In their transition from hunting, fishing, and camas or bitterroot harvesting to a close association with local settlers in their homeland, the Wciscrs made lasting friendships and gained protection often denied to reservation bands. Eagle Eye’s identity at Dry Buck, for example, was concealed for most of two decades during his later career in that area. His success in overcoming a long period of hostility from miners and ranchers came partly from his good fortune in finding people who would accept him after more than a decade of conflict. Eagle Eye’s adaptation to life in a changing world brought together a select group of people who managed to develop an unusual alternative to reservation life for unfortunate Indians. Their arrangement would have been difficult to manage for large Shoshoni bands during that era, but they demonstrated the advantages of a less rigid solution to Indian problems of survival in a region dominated by hostile settlers.
Documentation of Eagle Eye’s remarkable career comes from a variety of sources. Sven Liljeblad’s ethnographic investigation has provided information essential for interpreting archival and newspaper materials. A careful geographical examination of Eagle Eye’s country also has been crucial. In 1962, Eagle Eye’s granddaughter—Josephine Thorpe—returned with her family to revisit her childhood home in Eagle Eye’s camp. Sixty-six years had passed since Eagle Eye’s time, and I acted as guide with Dr. Liljeblad for that expedition. Sites were located, including a major Pacific Northwest obsidian source for prehistoric tools that had remained unknown to archaeologists. This find contributed greatly to a clarification of Eagle Eye’s story, and has allowed a superior interpretation of Eagle Eye’s adventures and cultural importance.
– Merle W. Wells
excerpted from the Forward to “The Weiser Indians: Shoshoni Peacemakers“, by Hank Corless. Caxton Press