On July 13,a party of Bannock Indians awoke in their camp to find themselves surrounded by 27 armed white men. They had traveled from the Fort Hall reservation in Idaho to hunt elk, as they always did, and as was clearly permitted in their treaty with the U. They had avoided white settlements and harvested only enough meat to feed themselves through the winter. Today, the area around Jackson is known for tourism, scenic beauty, wilderness, and elk.
For the 60 or so white people who lived on homeste scattered across the area, Indian elk hunting was a threat.
So the whites initiated what is sometimes called the Bannock War of —although, as we will see, the Bannocks never fired a shot. That July day of terror for the Bannocks led to a summer of hysteria for the whites.
Supreme Court decision, known as the Race Horse case. More than a century later, in a case known as Herrerathe Supreme Court fully repudiated its Race Horse principles. In the s, as whites began migrating through the area, fights erupted with the Bannock and their allies, the Shoshone, including on Jan.
But the federal government failed to enforce that treaty against encroachment from miners, buffalo hunters, migrants, agriculturalists, members of displaced Great Plains tribes and others. Those hunting rights were important for two reasons.
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First, many indigenous cultures see people as part of nature rather than separate from itand thus hunting not only as a form of natural regulation, but also as an expression of connection between an individual and the wider natural world. Second, whites failed to fulfill their treaty obligations to provide the Fort Hall tribes with sufficient rations, or tools for farming on the reservation. Bannocks had to hunt or starve.
Unlike white settlers, indigenous people had methods of drying and preserving meat to eat through the winter. They could also use elk hides, or sell the hides, often to white merchants. Whites first permanently settled Jackson Hole in the late s. Harsh winters meant difficult farming, but scenery and wildlife drew sport hunters. Many locals, including Stephen N. Leek, who arrived inmade their living as guides.
By the early s, Jackson Hole elk populations were dwindling. White homesteaders and their fences had disrupted elk migrations and winter ranges. But at the time, attention centered on overhunting. Shortly after statehood inWyoming passed regulations to create hunting seasons and limits to try to conserve wildlife.
But it did little enforcement, especially in Jackson Hole, which was then part of Uinta Countywith the county seat of Evanston almost miles south. Who overhunted? Jackson Hole residents claimed that Indians killed elk for only the commercial value of their hides. The administration of nearby Yellowstone National Park also focused on Indian depredation. Beginning in the s, Yellowstone superintendents complained to Indian agents that traveling parties of indigenous people decimated Yellowstone wildlife populations.
It was now occupied by a national park. However, evidence suggests that whites in Jackson Hole were responsible for more elk slaughter than Indians.
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Unlike the Indians, few whites were skilled at preserving meat in summer months, so often left much to rot. And visiting hunters wanted trophies such as antlers or elk teeth, not meat. Infor example, a party of eight hunters with two guides killed 59 elk.
Lieutenant John T. There are men in that country who make it a business to pilot hunting parties from the East and the Old Country which not only slaughter elk but capture and ship them out of the country. The killing of game by Indians interferes with their business.
The influence of guiding—which in Jackson Hole would evolve into the broader industry of dude ranching —is unusual in the history of white-Indian conflicts. These traditionally involved white migrants and settlers, not tourism promoters. In Jackson Hole, however, the white interest in elk populations was not for the subsistence or even the sport of local residents. It was instead for profit by catering to wealthy recreational hunters from elsewhere. In the fall ofJackson Hole residents elected a constable, William Francis Manningand a justice of the peace, Frank Rho, who promised to enforce game laws that the state of Wyoming was unable or unwilling to enforce.
Rho reportedly claimed two months afterward that Governor William Richards directed him before the shootings to "enforce the laws of Wyoming, [to] put the Indians out of Jackson's Hole, to keep them out at all costs, [and] to depend upon him [that is, Richards] for protection. On June 7,Manning arrested three Bannocks and confiscated their elk hides. About June 24, Manning and a posse arrested nine more Bannocks. Eventually the whites tired of the expense of jailing the Indians and told them to escape.
We knew some one was going to be killed, perhaps some on both sides, and we decided the sooner it was done the better, so that we could get the matter before the courts. On June 30, Manning and three deputies accosted a very large Bannock party that refused to be arrested. Manning backed down, but only temporarily. Without names or even a of Bannocks to be arrested, the warrant was probably illegal. The posse first ran into a large party of Eastern Shoshone, headed back to their Wind River Reservation. After regrouping, the posse was reduced to 26 deputies. To surprise the Bannocks, rather than traveling up the Hoback drainage, they ascended nearby Cache Creek and then moved south.
They found a Bannock camp, at a place now called Battle Mountain, and circled it during the night. At daylight, they arrested the Bannocks, who put up no resistance. The Bannocks, led by a man named Ben Senowin, were not the same party that had repelled the posse. They began a long march toward town.
Senowin later said that the Bannocks were not fully aware of the charges against them. Even if they had been aware, they would have found the charges groundless. Manning was not enforcing anti-poaching laws against whites, who were clearly subject to those laws. Instead he was targeting only Bannock, whose treaty exempted them from those laws.
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The party marched all day. The deputies told several Bannock men that they were in big trouble, and might even be hanged. In late afternoon, as the party entered a stand of timber, the deputies simultaneously loaded their rifles with a round in the chamber. The Bannocks feared they would be massacred there in the middle of nowhere. They quickly scattered into the trees. Leek noted that the Bannocks fled to the right. The deputies, who shot from their right shoulders, had to first turn their horses to gain any accuracy.
An elderly, unarmed, half-blind man named Se-we-a-gat or Timeha was shot four times in the back.
Who gets to hunt wyoming's elk? tribal hunting rights, u.s. law and the bannock 'war' of
Another man, a year-old named Nemuts, was shot twice, but escaped and later recovered. A young boy fell off his horse and was captured by the deputies. The posse returned to town with their 3-year-old prisoner, who was cared for by a local woman.
A messenger was dispatched miles to the nearest telegraph office, at Market Lake now known as RobertsIdaho. Many Indians report here; threaten life and property. Settlers are moving families away.
Want protection immediately. Action on your part is absolutely necessary. On the way, a sympathetic Mormon rancher fed them some freshly-killed elk.
But rumors of massacred whites continued spreading nationwide for weeks. Their warriors must in the thousands.
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They must have secured a stronghold in the remote valley. If conditions were temporarily quiet, they must be setting a trap. A party of Princeton students on a geological tour was believed to be in jeopardy, perhaps annihilated. In fact they had never felt unsafe.
Two Jackson-area homes were robbed of bedding and clothing. In fact the thieves were six white men from Lander who had come to fight Indians. At least one company then marched the miles over Teton Pass into Jackson Hole.
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