Native American History and Culture in Pocatello, Idaho

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho

The name Pocatello comes from the Indian Chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe in the 1800’s.

In July of 1863, Chief Pocatello signed the Treaty of Box Elder, agreeing to give up two-thirds of the Shoshone tribe’s hunting grounds. Unfortunately, losing hunting ground perfectly corresponds with deprivation of food for the tribes. The treaty was an attempt to make peace with the United States after the Bear River Masaccre, where more than 400 Shoshone (including women and children) were killed. After this devastating event, Chief Pocatello did what he thought was necessary to get on good terms with the U.S.

The Shoshone were also to be given $5,000 per year to help provide food, blankets, and supplies, but unfortunately the government did not follow through as promised, and some food even arrived spoiled, and unfit to eat. This preceded and eventually led to starvation and disease. Many people moved to the Fort Hall Reservation, located about 20 miles Northwest of Pocatello, in hopes of receiving more food and supplies.

Fort Hall is now a federally recognized reservation of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. The reservation occupies land in four counties: Bingham, Power, Bannock, and Caribou. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have 5,300 members enrolled, and are governed by a seven-member elected council.

The tribes now employ almost 1,000 Native and non-Native people, including work at the Fort Hall Casino. They also have wheat and potato crops which create an annual revenue of more than $75 million.

By July 2016, the Department of Interior made buy-back offers to more than 500 landowners at Fort Hall, putting over one million acres of land into trust for these tribes. The Fort Hall Reservation has even opened the Shoshone Bannock Tribal Museum, which helps tell the story and history of these tribes.

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