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Shoshone of Northern Utah

Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation of Utah

Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation of Utah

Kristen Rogers
Beehive History, 26

Fifteen years after the Mormon settlers arrived in Utah, their livestock had so overgrazed the native grasses and seeds that the Indians were starving, noted Jacob Hamblin, one of those settlers. The Great Basin was hardly lush to begin with, but indigenous peoples had survived there for centuries. How did they live on the land? And why was the Euro-American way of living so devastating to the native tribes?

Each group of Native Americans survived by adapting to the resources of its own area. Consider the group now called the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation. Earlier, they called themselves kammitakka, “jackrabbit-eaters,” and lived in northern Utah and southern Idaho. They lived in small and fluid family groups, hunting and gathering scarce resources throughout the spring, summer and fall. During the winter, the small groups gathered together into larger camps in areas that provided cover, timber, and food sources to supplement the foodstuffs they had gathered and stored. Often they wintered near hot springs at Battle Creek near Franklin, Idaho or at Promontory Point or Crystal Springs in Utah, erecting brush or tipi homes.

The Northwestern Shoshones were neighbors to two different groups of Shoshone peoples. Those to the north fished the Snake River drainage and depended heavily on bulbs like bitterroot and camas. The Shoshone in western Utah and eastern Nevada lived in a dryer place, relying on foods like pine nuts, grasses, and desert animals.

The Northwestern Band moved between these two groups–after all, the Shoshones were all close relatives–and used the resources of both areas. They fished Bear Lake and the Bear, Weber, and Snake rivers, using spears, gill nets, and basket traps. They snared or shot waterfowl, grouse, coots, and owls, and they snared small animals like wood rats, muskrats, and squirrels. To cook these, they singed the fur off then roasted the animals whole or stuffed.

Large game required other hunting techniques. Working as a group, hunters might drive deer into brush corrals in narrow canyons. They also hunted mountain sheep, stalking or ambushing them or beating on logs to simulate the rams’ rutting battles.

Men often joined forces to hunt pronghorn antelope. A person who was thought to have spiritual power directed the communal hunts. This shaman would visit the herd, sing to the animals, sleep with them, and help drive them to a brush corral, where they could be shot. Large hunts such as this were only held every five or ten years, however, as it took the antelope population that long to recover.

Other animals used by the Shoshone included beaver, elk, porcupines, mountain lions (rarely), bobcats, hares and rabbits, otters, badgers, marmots, and bears. The hunters often took care to avoid killing female animals, birds and fish during times when the animals would be bearing or caring for their young.

Plants were also critical to survival. The Shoshone ate such diverse plants as thistle stems, sagebrush seeds, the leaves and roots of arrowleaf balsamroot, buffalo berries, limber pine seeds, sego lilies, wild rye seeds, Indian ricegrass, cattails, and much more.

Of all the plant foods, pinyon nuts were the most important. The band usually went to Grouse Creek, in northwestern Utah, to gather the nuts in the fall. After they harvested the green cones, they would roast the cones to release the seeds. They would then parch the shells to make them brittle, crack them with a metate, and winnow the nuts with a fan tray. The parched nuts could be eaten whole or ground to make a warm or cold mush.

The Pinyon Harvest was a time of religious ceremonies, and the people regarded the pinyon-gathering areas as sacred. But the Shoshone apparently approached all of their relationships with the land spiritually. Animals killed were often treated ritually, with their heads placed to the east or their organs set out in the brush or trees; the dead animals were addressed with special respect. Plants were harvested with prayers and offering. When digging a root, for instance, a Shoshone might leave a small stone or bead in the hole.

According to anthropologists, Great Basin peoples regarded animals and plants as powerful agents that could help or hurt the people. Certain plants–sagebrush, for instance–were used ritually. It was crucially important to the Shoshone to maintain a harmonious relationship between the natural and human worlds. Prayers of petition and thanks, then, were part of everyday life.

These attitudes still persist among many. In 1980 a fieldworker interviewing Western Shoshones for an MX missile environmental impact study wrote that the people had a high attachment to and reverence for the land. The interviewees described the sacred sites on the land but would not identify them, fearing that the sites would be disturbed. They also spoke against the impacts of the MX missile system, saying that “When the is sick, the people are sick.” In the Shoshone view, wrote the fieldworker, the land, water, fish, and fisherman are all holy.

In the past, there was no ownership of land among the Shoshonean people; all Shoshones had a right to its resources and all had a stake in keeping well. But the end of this way of life, with its seasonal migrations and small-group cooperation, began when Mormon settlers moved onto the traditional Northwestern Shoshone lands. Also, emigrants hunting and grazing their livestock along the Oregon Trail decimated food sources and polluted streams.

To fill the gap, some Shoshones turned to begging, stealing food, or raiding livestock, acts that they saw as “collecting rent.” Others became more violent, killing Euro-Americans in retaliation. But in the long run these strategies could not sustain the band. The Anglos reached their own goal–to permanently remove the Indians from settlement lands–far more efficiently. The Bear River Massacre was on part of the “solution” to the “Indian problem.”

Another was to move the band onto a 1,700-acre farm at Washakie, in northern Utah, in 1875. There, the people who had successfully hunted and gathered for centuries were taught to build permanent houses and to farm. They learned a different way to live on the land, and although they held on to some aspects of traditional life, in essence they had to give up their own culture and adopt much of the worldview of their conquerors.

With the band relocated onto farms at Washakie, it was not very long before the traditional Shoshone lifeways on the land had disappeared forever.

Sources: MX/Native American Cultural and Socio-Economic Studies Draft, September 30, 1980; Facilitators, Inc., Las Vegas, NV. Julian H Steward, Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups (1938; reprint, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1997). Handbook of North American Indians vol. 11 ed. By Warren L. D’Azevedo (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978).



Circleville Massacre

Memorial Dedication

Please join us on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. for the dedication of a memorial to the Paiute men, women, and children massacred in Circleville on April 22-24, 1866. The dedication will take place in Circleville Memorial Park in Circleville, Utah, where a memorial has been erected to remember the massacre victims.

CONDUCTING/MASTER OF CEREMONY Michael Haaland, Mayor of Circleville
BLESSING AND REMARKS Arthur Richards, Cedar Band, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
SONG Mark Rogers, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
STATEMENT ON HISTORY Jedediah Rogers, Senior State Historian, Utah Division of State History
REMARKS Richard E Turley Jr., Assistant Church Historian, LDS Church History Department
REMARKS Dorena Martineau, Tribal Cultural Resource Officer, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
REMARKS Toni Pikyavit, Koosharem Band, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
CLOSING Mayor Haaland

Governor Declaration

A declaration issued by Utah Governor Gary Herbert recognizes April 22, 2016, as Circleville Massacre Memorial Day.

Brief History of the Massacre


In April 1866, Mormon settlers in Circleville massacred as many as thirty men, women, and children belonging to the Koosharem band of the Paiute tribe.

The massacre occurred in an atmosphere of fear and conflict known as the “Black Hawk War,” a conflict staged primarily between Mormons who, by settling on the best farmlands in central and southern Utah, had cut off Ute access to resources on their traditional homelands. Settlers newly arrived in Circle Valley found themselves in the heart of this conflict. Late in 1865, some Utes raided the town of Circleville—which was ill prepared to defend itself—killing four citizens, including two thirteen-year-old boys, Orson Barney and Ole Heilersen.

Reports had swirled that Paiutes, or Piedes, as they were sometimes called, were in alliance with Utes. A Ute-Paiute alliance seems unlikely; the Ute had long abducted Paiute women and children as part of their slave trade. In 1866 Parowan militia officers decided to “take in all straggling Indians in the vicinity”—Paiutes included—eventually requesting several to come to Fort Sanford, where they were questioned. Fort Sanford, located between Panguitch and Circleville, had been constructed earlier that year as additional protection on the road over the pass to Parowan. The colonizers at Circleville, however, remained ill-prepared to defend against attacks; unlike Marysville to the north, Circleville had no fort or stockade and the houses were too scattered to provide effective protection.

On April 21, an express sent from Fort Sanford to Circleville stated that two formerly friendly Paiutes in the area had shot and wounded a member of the Utah militia. What the dispatch did not report was that one of the Paiutes had already been injured, while the other had been shot and killed by a soldier’s long-range rifle. The fort’s military commander advised settlers at Circleville and Panguitch to disarm the Paiutes encamped near those settlements.

Settlers ​ in Circleville met to decide what course to pursue. They decided to take the Koosharem Band prisoner and sent a messenger to them, directing them to come into town to hear a letter read by the local LDS bishop. Those who complied were directed into the log church meetinghouse. When the settlers told the Paiutes to disarm and they indicated reluctance, the settlers forcefully disarmed them. The local militia quietly surrounded the remaining Paiutes who had refused to come in the first time and directed their prisoners to the meeting house. The men were bound under guard in the church meetinghouse, while the women and children were held in the cellar.

LDS church apostle Erastus Snow received a report from Circleville and returned instructions that the prisoners should be treated kindly and let go unless “hostile or affording aid to the enemy.” The dispatch arrived too late. Unnoticed by the guards, the Paiute men managed to unloose the ropes that bound them. In evening the men sprang upon their captives. In the struggle that followed, the militia men shot and killed all of the Piede Indians. They then proceeded, one at a time, to bring the women and children up from the cellar and to slit their throats. Reportedly, the bodies were taken to the cellar of an unbuilt mill and buried in a mass grave. Three or four children of the Koosharem Band thought too young to bear witness were spared and adopted by local families.


For more information about the massacre, we invite you to this annotated bibliography, which provides both secondary and primary sources of various historical perspectives leading up to the event.



Harold Wallace Ross

The founder of The New Yorker grew up in Salt Lake City.

Harold Ross, creator and editor of America’s most sophisticated magazine, The New Yorker, was known for his strong personality and his unsophisticated dress and manners. Some claimed that Ross was a literary hoax, because a man who looked and acted like Harold Ross could not be the editor of America’s smartest magazine.

Ross was born November 6, 1892, to George and Ida Ross in Aspen, Colorado, where his father was involved in mining. When Harold was seven years old his family moved to Salt Lake City. As a freshman at West High School he worked on the school newspaper, the Red and Black. There he became acquainted with the artist John Held, Jr., who was later to become famous for his caricatures that defined the Jazz Age. While still a teenager Ross started hanging around the offices of the Telegram and Tribune. Eventually he was given a part-time job running errands for the Telegram’s sports editor.

Ross, who did not get along with his father, frequently ran away from home. He dropped out of high school after his freshman year to work full time for the Tribune. In the summer of 1910, at the age of 18, he left Salt Lake City, ”riding the rails” and working as a “tramp reporter” for newspapers across the country. He started working for the Sacramento Union in 1911, journeyed to Panama City, and then moved on to New Orleans and Atlanta. In 1916 he was back on the West Coast, working part time on the Call and Post.

In the spring of 1917 Ross enlisted in the 18th Regiment of Army Engineers and was sent to France where he worked on the Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. When the war ended Ross settled in New York City and tried to revive the Stars and Stripes in a publication called the Home Sector Magazine, but it was unsuccessful. He then edited the American Legion Weekly for two years (1921-23) which was followed by a job with Judge, a humor magazine.

Then he got the idea to start his own magazine. The New Yorker was conceived by a group of writers that Ross socialized with called the Thanatopsis Literary and Inside Straight Club. This group had originally met in Nini’s, a Paris cafe, and moved to the Algonquin Hotel in New York City after the war. Most were former members of the Stars and Stripes staff. Among them was a nonjournalist, Raoul Fleischmann, one of the heirs to the Fleischmann yeast fortune. He advanced the money for the first issue of The New Yorker, which appeared February 19, 1925.

Fleischmann had resigned himself to losing money on the venture, but because of the quality of the magazine, advertisers supported it. The New Yorker was noted for its features such as “Talk of the Town” and “Profiles” and for excellent writers like Dorothy Parker and James Thurber.

Ross died December 6, 1951, after an operation on his lungs. He was survived by his wife Ariane Allen whom he had married in 1940 and his daughter Patricia.

Hilda Anderson Erickson, Working Woman

Hilda Anderson Erickson was a Mormon midwife in Tooele County.

Becky Bartholomew
History Blazer, October 1995

Women's current struggle to balance home and career may seem new. But long before the turn of the century at least one Utah woman was combining home duties with four outside careers and apparently thriving.

Hilda Anderson came to Utah in 1866 from Sweden as a seven-year-old. In Grantsville she learned early to work hard. Not yet fourteen, she took a dressmaking course in Salt Lake City and began her first career designing and sewing coats, suits, and ladies' clothing for clients as far away as Tooele. Once her mother "jawed" her for going to a dance instead of working, but the teenager was no slouch. During one 150-day period she spent 104 full days sewing. She could turn out a shirt or boy's coat in one day--before she acquired a sewing machine.

A bit of a coquette, Hilda kept John Erickson waiting for two years before marrying him. John had already purchased a small farm with money saved from haying for local ranchers. But when Mormon leaders called them as missionaries to the Gosiute Indians, Hilda and John left the farm behind. For the next 15 years they worked "the Church Farm" at Deep Creek, near the Nevada border, helping the Indians farm in that desert environment.

During this second career, Hilda determined that Ibapah Valley needed better midwifery. She left her infant daughter in the care of her mother in Grantsville and went to Salt Lake to study obstetrics. A year later, licensed and certified, she returned to the west desert where she delivered nearly every baby born there for the next two decades--except her own second and last child. She once traveled 25 miles on horseback to help a woman; another time she steered horse and buggy by herself over a steep mountain trail to assist at a birth. Did John worry? He had probably long since learned that his lovely auburn-haired wife would follow her own mind.

While still at Deep Creek she began her third career--as a merchant. Settlers were traveling over 200 miles round-trip to Salt Lake City for supplies. John and Hilda decided to stock at least some necessities in a small store in their own backyard. Hilda became not only manager, buyer, and clerk but also hotelier for the prospectors, railroad men, and herders whose visits to Deep Creek necessitated an overnight stay. It frequently meant working late into the night preparing knapsack lunches for the men to take with them early the next morning.

Eventually John tired of running somebody else's farm. At first Hilda was not enthusiastic about the beautiful meadow he had discovered 30 miles down the valley, despite its willow stands and wild berries. But eventually she gave in, and John built a shed and ploughed land for alfalfa. Two years later he built a house.

Ambitious for her children to obtain a good education, Hilda never lived fulltime on the new ranch but had John build her a home in Grantsville. However, during his three-year mission to Sweden she ran the ranch herself, making day trips six or eight times a season to supervise the work. An excellent horsewoman, she loved livestock and carefully followed cattle prices as they fluctuated from $260 a head to as low as $19. She and John made good money supplying beef to work camps for the Western Pacific Railroad being built across the desert.

Hilda Anderson Erickson and Maud Winberg

John finally sold the ranch to a passing New Yorker who took a fancy to it. Valley lore says the ranch never produced for others as it had for Hilda and John. The Ericksons retired to Grantsville where Hilda opened a general merchandise store. This time she hired a clerk and freighter, but she still kept chickens, pigs, and a cow or two in the back yard. It was in Grantsville that John passed away in 1943.

Hilda continued to serve as a Tooele County civic and church leader. As clerk for the Grantsville Farm Loan Association, she drove hundreds of miles in her Model T Ford gathering accurate data for association records. She was an avid Democrat, reading two newspapers daily and never missing a vote. She also traveled widely as president of the LDS children's Primary organization for the county. She wore out eleven cars between 1908 and 1953, when the state finally took away her driver's license.

In 1964 the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers touted Erickson as Utah's "sole remaining pioneer immigrant." She was then 104. She liked to say she had traveled by ox team, mule team, horseback, horse and buggy, wagon, bicycle, car, and--her biggest thrill--airplane. She passed away at the age of 108.

Sources: "Hilda Erickson--Pioneer" in Kate B. Carter, comp., Our Pioneer Heritage, vol. 6 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1963); see also "A Century of Living" in Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, vol. 7 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1964). Carter obtained much of this information herself from Erickson, who was an active DUP member.

Waterpocket Fold and Greater Capitol Reef

The Waterpocket Fold and Greater Capitol Reef
Friday, November 20, 4:00 p.m.
The Downtown City Library, 4th Floor, Room 4
210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah

WaterpocketFoldThe Waterpocket Fold stretches like a reptilian spine across one hundred miles of broken desert lands along the western edge of the Colorado Plateau. This event will reflect on this landmark geologic formation—centerpiece of Capitol Reef National Park—its history, and the broader landscape surrounding the Fold.

Ralph Becker, currently mayor Salt Lake City, completed a 176-mile hike along the entire length of the Fold as a young man. Since then, he has explored by vehicle, bike, boat, and foot the region around Capitol Reef National Park—including the treasures of Boulder Mountain, the Henry Mountains, Thousand Lakes Mountain, the side canyons of the Dirty Devil River, and the wilderness of the Escalante. In this presentation, he will tell the story of his Waterpocket Fold trek and look back on changes in the Capitol Reef region in the intervening years. Becker’s diary of his Waterpocket Fold trek appears in the fall 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly.

Stephen Trimble, writer, photographer and naturalist, was a ranger at Capitol Reef in 1975 and has been writing and photographing in the park and surrounding canyon country ever since. He’ll place Becker’s journal in the context of our creative response to the Waterpocket Fold over 150 years. Trimble has published twenty-two books on western landscape and native peoples. He’s beginning to gather pieces for “The Capitol Reef Reader,” which he’ll edit for the University of Utah Press. Trimble makes his home in Salt Lake City and in Torrey, Utah.

Free and Open to the Public

Part of a regular series of lectures highlighting the work and scholarship of Utah Historical Quarterly, Utah’s official historical journal. This is part of a continuing series of interviews and events featuring current state leaders in their intersections with Utah history.

Utah History Podcasts

Check out our collection of audio files from various events and programs of Utah State History.

Utah StateTelephoneOperator_edge History Brown Bag Presentations

Utah State History hosts a collection of Brown Bags every year. We recently began recording these presentations so you can listen and not miss a thing.

Listen and watch a mix of brown bags presented by a mix of lay and professionals working to document history.

News_WagonUtah Historical Quarterly Web Extras

Web Extras are produced for every issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly since 2014. You’ll find a collection of interviews, interactive maps, music, and more for each issue dating back to Summer 2014.


Utah State History Annual Conferences

Utah State History hosts an annual conference on a select theme. Select sessions, plenary and keynote speakers have been recorded starting in 2015. Join in to take part of these conferences and intriguing topics.


Utah Historical Quarterly Web Extras

First published in 1928, the Utah Historical Quarterly, the state’s official history journal, features articles, essays, and book reviews and notices on all aspects of the Beehive State’s history. Since 2014, current issues are now accompanied by rich online supplements.

In the digital medium, we are able to do more than can be done in print: reproduce UHQ articles and essays accompanied with expanded photos, maps, and bibliographies, and publish photo galleries, primary sources, oral histories, podcast interviews, and other special features suitable for the web. See below for the current supplements and an archive of previous online content.

Become a member of the Utah State Historical Society and receive your own copy of the Utah Historical Quarterly. UHQ back issues are available online through a searchable database.

UHQ Spring 2018

Re-discovering the 1931 Claflin-Emerson Expedition

Researching Turn-of-the-Century Women (pdf)

Maps, Mapmakers, and Nineteenth-Century Exploration

Voices from Drug Court: Community-Based Oral History at Utah State University

UHQ Fall 2017

Fall 2017 features a portrait of Guadalupe Otanez. Learn more about this daughter of a railroad section worker.



UHQ Summer 2017

The University of Utah and the Utes, As Seen in the Utonian

Rape Law in Mid-Twentieth-Century Utah

Documents from the Creation of Cedar Breaks National Monument




UHQ Winter 2017

Historic Preservation and Sites of Conscience: A Conversation with Kirk Huffaker

Modernism at the University of Utah: Primary Source Readings

Forest Service Architectural Plans and Manuals, 1935-1940

fall2016uhqUHQ Fall 2016

Jedediah Smith’s Southwestern Expeditions: An Interactive Map

Researching the Life of F. M. Jones: A Conversation with Will Bagley

Canyonlands: A Photo Gallery

Utah Drawn: An Exhibition of Rare Maps

Summer2016UHQUHQ Summer 2016

Polygamy, A Play in Four Acts: Full Transcript

News from Salt Lake, 1847-1849: A Conversation with Andrew H. Hedges

Utah’s NASA Bid: A Confidential Report

Remembering the Circleville Massacre

UHQ Spring 2016Cataract Canyon Boat Party

Tie-hacking and logging sites on the North Slope

Mary Stevens’ murder: A conversation with Roger Blomquist

Digital copy of James E. Talmage’s diary

UHQ Winter 2016

The Newsboy Walter B. Evans

Coda: Turn-of-the-Century Smallpox Vaccination

Early Utah Photographs by William Henry Jackson and Timothy H. O’Sullivan

The Great War’s Council of Defense: A Conversation with Allan Kent Powell

Ogden Canteen Log Books

Historic Salt Lake City Apartments of the Early Twentieth Century

2015FallUHQUHQ Fall 2015

John C. Frémont and the Mormons: A Conversation with Alexander L. Baugh

Photographs and Drawings from the Simpson Expedition, 1858-59

Susan Rhoades Neel on Earl and Pearl Douglass

Reflections on the Waterpocket Fold and Greater Capitol Reef, by Ralph Becker

Haldane “Buzz” Holmstrom on the Colorado River: A Gallery


UHQ Summer 2015

A Conversation with Marshall E. Bowen on Russian Molokans in Box Elder County, Utah

The Hill Creek Extension: A Portfolio of Primary Documents

Early Utah Women Inventors: A Conversation with Christine Cooper-Rompato

The Carol Carlisle Summer Wedding Dress Collection: A Photo Gallery

Ute and Shoshone Vocabularies

2015SpringUHQUHQ Spring 2015

Almon Babbitt and Early Utah Politics: A Portfolio of Documents
Introduced and transcribed by Bruce Worthen

Folklore and History: An Interview with Steve Siporin

Southeastern Utah Missile Launches

Extended Photo Gallery of the Green River Launch Complex

2015WinterUHQUHQ Winter 2015

UHQ Interviews: Utah Historiography
Conversations with Gary Topping on Utah Historiography and with Robert Parson on S. George Ellsworth

Charcoal Kilns: A Photo Gallery
Photos and captions by Douglas H. Page Jr.

Gallery of Female Imagery in Advertisements

Sounds of the Cathedral

2014FallUHQUHQ Fall 2014

Mormon and Federal Indian Policy: A Portfolio of Primary Documents

Mormon and Federal Indian Policy: A Portfolio of Primary Documents
Transcribed by Brent Rogers

An Interview with Noel Carmack and Connell O’Donovan on the 1855 murder of Isaac Whitehouse in Parowan, Utah, and the Art of Historical Storytelling

Water: Records in the Utah State Historical Society and the Utah State Archives

Ute Photographs

2014SummerUHQUHQ Summer 2014

Previous UHQ Cover Designs

The Making and Unmaking of Utah
By Jared Farmer

Race with the Sun
By Carl Kuntze

Memoirs: An Annotated Bibliography
Compiled by Caitlin Shirts