Sentinels of the Rockies
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
The Shoshoni Indians have never, until now, found their biographer. This long-overdue volume at last brings their history into focus. Perhaps it is the nature of the Shoshonis—“a friend, always a friend”—which has caused them to be overlooked by historians. Washakie, their great chieftain of the nineteenth century, suffered hardship, personal affront, and even loss of prestige to prove his abiding attachment to the white man.
In their original habitat, the Great Basin—in Oregon and California, across Nevada, Utah, and Idaho into Wyoming—the Shoshonis had no knowledge of warfare. They were a primitive people wandering singly or in small family groups over vast areas in quest of food. When some of their number ventured into the Rockies, they found a new way of life. While buffalo hunting, they grouped together and chose tribal leaders.
Together with the Comanches and Kiowas, for a time the Shoshonis dominated the Great Plains of Colorado and into Texas. Even after their allies had drifted southward, they fought creditably with the Sioux and the Blackfeet—that is, until their enemies acquired the gun and chased them back into the mountains.
As sentinels of the Rockies, the Shoshonis controlled the great mountain barrier, a natural fortification which they were ill-equipped to man. Consequently, their story is less one of combat and bloodshed than it is of cultural changes brought about by the force of time and white settlers.
“This book presents a new outlook on Indian culture which is even more interesting because it develops into a moving and necessary biography of a little publicized nation.”—Real West
“A study which is an important step in the documentation of the history of Western tribes. It is the result of research of many years, and it should endure as one of the standard works on this subject.”—Montana Magazine
“Carefully conceived and extensively documented, this volume should long standard as the standard work on this subject.”—American West
“An excellent treatment of the great Shoshoni people, and it is not likely to be superseded.”—Journal of the American West