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Idaho Monument to Shoshone Massacre (Part 5 of 9)

The state of Idaho donated land for a monument so the Shoshone Tribe could tell the story of the Bear River Massacre.  Author Darren Parry gives us a tour of this second monument to the tragedy that happened January 29, 1863.

Darren:  I love bringing people up here because the State of Idaho helped us develop the seven kiosks here to tell the story of our people from our perspective. That’s the first time we’ve been able to do that.  Newe, N- E-W-E {pronounced “Knee-wah”} means “the people.”  That’s how the Shoshones refer to themselves. That’s who they’ve always called themselves. Sometimes the pioneers called us the Snake Indians.[1] We’ve been referred to as other things, but to us and the Shoshone people were always Newe [knee-wah], that’s how it’s pronounced, beautiful people. There’s a picture, that top left one is of Little Soldier.  Little Soldier hung out in Tooele. But when he was up in this area, he spent his time along the Weber River. He actually carried a poster, a sign in the Ogden City Parade that said ‘the Thousands of Manasseh’. It’s funny, I’m sure he had no idea what that meant, or he couldn’t even read English. The fact that the Saints thought that that the Shoshone people were from the Tribe of Mannasseh spoke volumes.

GT:  That’s funny.

Darren:  Yeah, it’s quite a heritage there. He probably wouldn’t have done it had he known. They were taking advantage of him.  But really, it’s just who we are, how we live there and such an important part of how we traveled, what we ate, our hunter gatherer lifestyle, where we hunted buffalo, that cyclical travel pattern to collect food was always a big part [of their life]. When I bring Chinese tour groups and other groups to this beautiful site, it’s just important that they get, from our perspective, who we are, how we lived, and how we lived in this environment and what it all meant and stood for.

GT:  I’m trying to remember, it seems like when we were talking about this last time, you had mentioned something along the lines of, there were no fences. Shoshones didn’t build any fences. So, when they came across, like cattle and things, they were like, “Hey, that looks like food to us.”  They [Shoshones] didn’t recognize the fences at all, right?

Darren:  No, there were no fences and the pioneers brought fences and cabins and everything else. To the Shoshone people, it was always–everybody’s land was everybody’s land. There wasn’t, “This is ours. That’s their’s.”  The whole community shared in whatever they needed to survive, and you’re only as strong as…  A community is your most vulnerable people within that community. We lived a sense of taking care of one another.

GT:  Now, I think at this point, you were talking about somebody coming over, was it…

Darren:  Connor’s Overlook is what I was referring to.  There’s a group of trees over there on that bluff, that’s where Connor and his men first appeared, on the bluff. They were led by a Mormon scout named Porter Rockwell. He knew where the Shoshones were camped and for $5 he was hired by the troops in Salt Lake to bring them to that point. The village would have been over there more to the right. But that’s called Connor’s Overlook today.

GT:  You said it was below zero, and so  there was moving fog where the horses were.

Darren:  Yeah, there was more than four feet of snow that day from pioneer’s journals. They said it was probably the coldest winter in Cache Valley in some time.

[1] Snake Indians refers to them living near the Snake River in Idaho.

Darren tells a lot more stories about the massacre, including an Eagle Scout project that references a Shoshone child left hanging in a tree in hopes that white settlers would rescue the child.  Check out our conversation….

An Idaho monument contains 7 kiosks to tell the Bear River Massacre from the Shoshone perspective.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Darren.

483: How a Battle Changed to Massacre

482: How Mormon Pioneers Changed Native Life

481: Native Life Before Pioneers

480: Darren Parry for Congress

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