158 years ago today, hundreds of Shoshone Indians were massacred on this site. Author Darren Parry takes us to the killing fields where many of his ancestors perished. Darren is fundraising to build a monument on this site to tell the story of the tragedy. We’ll tour the site and listen as Darren tells more about that awful, cold day of death.
Darren: Where we’re standing today is where the Interpretive Center building is going to be. Just behind us will be the building just off to my left here. This kind of gulley will be an amphitheater built into the side of that hill. And why here? Why here is because just straight out in front of us is the killing field. That’s where all the bodies lie, still today.
Darren: None of the bodies were buried in 1863, the ground was frozen solid. The bodies were left there to rot.
GT: Because it was below zero that day, so they will probably would have just frozen.
Darren: Yeah, and you couldn’t dig a grave. Some of the pioneers said they tried to throw a few of the bodies into the Bear River, which is right there. Later on in the day, it was flowing again, it wasn’t frozen. They said that that was too much of a big task because of the number of bodies that were there. Just straight down here in this big open field is where the lodges were, where almost all of the killing took place. So here on the Bear River, and if you can see down here, you can actually see a little steam coming up, but it’s warm enough now that you can’t see it very well. But right on that bend of that river, you can see where there’s a cutout in the side here. The hot springs come out of that and flow down into the river. So that little, tiny ravine right there at the apex of that circle is where the hot springs are located.
Darren: That whole geographical area. So the lodges were around it and everywhere close to it. They camped here because of the hills to the north, it protected them from the north winds in the wintertime. Then there were plenty of willows down there. The Russian Olives have taken over today, but there were plenty of willows used for baskets and winnowing and water jugs, and all types of things like that.
Darren: The initial assault that the troops came across the river and attacked the Shoshones straight on. That’s where almost all the soldiers died. They pulled back and then half the group went where the white home is there up around that way. The other half came around this way down to the river and pinched them on the river. So they can either jump into the river to try to escape, or turn and fight. Almost all of the bodies, the 400 bodies would have been down in that area.
If you would like to donate to the center, please go to boaogoi.com or send a check to the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, 707 North Main Street Brigham City, UT 84302.
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