In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of Ute and Shoshone vocabularies were published in Utah. Dimick Baker Huntington prepared and printed the earliest vocabularies beginning in 1853. Others were subsequently written by the Indian interpreter Joseph A. Gebow, the LDS missionary George W. Hill, and the zoologist and ethnographer Ralph V. Chamberlin. Recently, Huntington’s first edition of the earliest Ute and Shoshone vocabulary, thought to be lost, was discovered in two copies—one published, the other unbound galley proofs. Both rare copies are now housed at the LDS Church History Library. For more information about this edition, see the summer 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly.
Thanks go to Brent Rogers, a historian with the Joseph Smith Papers, for his assistance procuring copies of these vocabularies.
This first edition of Dimick Baker Huntington’s Ute and Shoshone vocabulary was originally prepared and printed as a pamphlet published in the fall of 1853. The front and back covers of the volume are missing, but on page three the title reads, “A Few Words in the Utah Dialect Alphabetically Arranged.” The publication consisted of two vocabularies; bound with the Ute portion of the vocabulary was Huntington’s Shoshone vocabulary entitled “A Few Words in the Shoshone or Snake Dialect.” It was not considered to be a first edition until it was compared word-for-word to the original galley sheets. The vocabulary is housed at the LDS Church History Library.
This document is believed to be first edition galley proofs of Huntington’s 1853 Ute and Shoshone vocabulary publication. The title on these proofs is “A Few Words in the Utah and Sho-sho-ne Dialects, Alphabetically Arranged.” The copies consist of three uncut sheets and 27 numbered cut sheets. These sheets were donated to the LDS Church History Library by a direct descendant of Thomas Bullock.
In 1854, Huntington published a second edition of his Ute and Shoshone vocabulary. Revised and enlarged, the second edition contains 21 leaves. The original is held at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. A copy is housed at the LDS Church History Library.
Huntington’s third edition of the Ute and Shoshone vocabulary, published as Vocabulary of the Utah and Vocabulary of the Utah and Sho-sho-ne or Snake dialects, with Indian legends and traditions: including a brief account of the life and death of Wah-ker, the Indian land pirate, was published in 1872. The original is held by the LDS Church History Department.
The second Indian vocabulary printed in Utah was Joseph A. Gebow’s Vocabulary of the Snake or Shoshone Dialect, published in 1859. As noted in the volume, the non-Mormon Gebow was an Indian interpreter under Superintendent of Indian Affairs Jacob Forney, as well as “an old mountaineer, having been among the Indians and in the mountains for fourteen years; and he resents this little offering as a sample of Rocky Mountain literature of the lone Indian, who is fast passing away, hoping that it will beguile a tedious hour to many, and prove of interest to the trader, the trapper and those who feel an interest in the tongue of the aborigines of the mountains.”
George W. Hill, a Mormon Indian missionary, had taught Shoshones in their own language at Fort Limhi in 1855. He wrote Vocabulary of the Shoshone Language, published by the Deseret News in 1877, with words “spelled as phonetically as the English alphabet will allow, and with it any person may learn to speak the dialect so that an Indian can understand him.” A copy is held by the LDS Church History Library.
Unlike vocabularies published in the nineteenth century, Ralph V. Chamberlin’s “Animal Names and Anatomical Terms of the Goshute Indians” from the Zoological Laboratory of Brigham Young University has an introductory section and contextual information on terms in the vocabulary. The volume was originally published by the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in April 1908. A copy is housed at the LDS Church History Library.