Chief Pocatello's People—The Shoshone
The band led by Chief Pocatello were members of the Shoshone tribe. Shoshone territory
included most of Idaho, northern Utah, northern Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, central Nevada
and in Califorina, in the Death Valley and Panamint Valley areas.
Originators of teh horse Culture in the Intermountain West
The Shoshone introduce the horse to the Intermountain West, having traded with the Ute and
Comanche for their first horses in the early 1700's. Shortly thereafter the Nez Perce acquired
horses, followed by the Crow and Blackfeet.
Horses revolutionized life for the tribes that acquired them. They enabled easier and more
efficient travel and greatly expanded hunting ranges. Tirbes that possessed horses had a
significant competitive advantage over those that did not.
Just as in other native cultures centered upon the horse, a Shoshone man's wealth was
measured by the number of horses he owned. Horses elevated the owner's prestige and
consitituted a significant asset in trading.
Upon his death, Chief Pocatello was buried with 18 of his best horses. It is said that he
was almost never seen on anything by a white horse, a color that has great spiritual
significance to the Shoshone.
The Shoshone were formidible warrios when circumstances called for it, but they
excelled as traders. Because their territories sat at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains,
the Shoshone utilized an extensive trade network that brought them into contact with
the Plains Indian tribes to the east, and with the Ute and Comanche to the south.
There are documented records of Shoshone trade into Spanish territory.
Warriors. Master horsemen. Astute traders. The Shoshone were a vital part
of the complex tribal constellation in the Intermountain West.