On January 29, 1863, 450 Northwestern Shoshone were killed along the Bear River, near present day Preston, Idaho, in perhaps the largest massacre in United States history.
Chief Bear Hunter’s band of Northern Shoshone spent the cold months in Utah Territory where they and other Shoshone bands gathered for winter games and the Warm Dance to urge the return of spring. Food was plentiful, the weather was mild, and children played along the river. There was plenty of wood for fire and natural hot springs—the people were content.
Settlers started making Utah home in the 1840s, intruding on Shoshone land and resources, which resulted in skirmishes between the tribe and settlers over the coming years. With the discovery of gold, violence against the Shoshone increased. The violence culminated in the massacre on January 29, 1863 when Army Colonel Patrick Edward Connor and his men viciously attacked.
We present these 10 images, to not only remember and honor some of those who survived that terrible day, but to honor those who were lost.
Mae T. Parry
Frank Warner, also known as Beshup Timbimboo, survived the Bear River Massacre despite being shot seven times. In this photo, he stands on the spot where he last saw his mother alive in 1863. This photo was taken at Battle Creek, near Preston, Idaho, on July 24, 1918.
Mae T. Parry
Yeager Timbimboo, 1848-1937, left, and Ray Diamond Womenup were survivors of the Bear River Massacre who later joined the LDS Church. This photo, taken between 1830 and 1840, shows them standing near the Washakie Ward meetinghouse.
Yeager hid with his grandmother amidst the bodies of those murdered in the massacre.
Rachel Perdash, a young girl who made it out of the massacre alive and ran to tell neighboring people what had happened.
“Returning from the Battle of Bear River” Notice how this painting calls it a “battle” not a massacre and is glorifying the Anglo victory over the Shoshone.
Frank Timbimboo, or Beshup Red Clay, was Yeager’s youngest brother who was in shock after the massacre. Throughout the horrific event, he never put down his bowl of pine nuts. He grew up to become a teacher.
Chief Sagwitch and Bear Hunter’s wife, who married Sagwitch after Bear Hunter died.
Soquitch was 15 years old in January 1863. He survived the massacre but his girlfriend was shot as they attempted to cross the river on horseback.
The location where the massacre took place, viewed from the north.
A memorial participant, from the event in 2009, adds to a prayer tree, festooned with gifts of remembrance made by Shoshone children. Mourners have decorated the tree for more than 20 years.
Read more about that day here: Native History: Bear River Massacre Devastates Northwestern Shoshone
This story was originally published January 29, 2015.