National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier Idaho

TRAIL BASICS

Indians

 A Shoshone camp
Shoshone camp

Most Indians were tolerant of the pioneer wagon trains that drove through their lands. Some traded and swapped buffalo robes and mocassins for knives, clothes, food and other items. Some tribes were notorious for stealing from the emigrants along the road. And, there were some violent altercations between Indians and pioneers, but these were very few compared with the total number of settlers who traveled in safety through Indian lands. In the early years of the trail, Indians never attacked a large wagon train, but stragglers could be in big trouble

Historical studies indicate that between 1840-1860 that Indians killed 362 emigrants, but that emigrants killed 426 Indians.  Of the emigrants killed by Indians, about 90% were killed west of South Pass, mostly along the Snake and Humboldt Rivers or on the Applegate Trail to the southern end of the Willamette Valley.

Idaho Shoshone Indian Braves
Local Shoshone Indians
(click for larger version)

Indians of many separate tribes who spoke different languages considered the land where the Oregon/California trails ran through their home. Sioux, Shoshone, Kiowa, Crow, Ute, Paiute, were some of the various tribes that an emigrant train might encounter. Many of the depredations done by Shoshone Indians were on the stretch between Soda Springs/Ft. Hall and Snake River where it runs through what is now southern Idaho.

Shoshone were the dominant tribe along the trail within the area in and around The National Oregon-California Trail Center, from Thomas Fork Crossing to Soda Springs. No record or any attacks or altercations against western travelers by the Shoshone have been documented along this section of the trail.

 

Shoshone women and children

Shoshone women and children
(click for larger version)

 

Friendly Indians following wagon train

Friendly Indians following wagon train
(click for larger version)

Trail Basics
The Trek West
The Starting Point
The Wagon
Mules, Horses or Oxen
Supplies
A Day on the Trail
Dangers
Indians