Sheepeater Indian War
|Sheepeater Indian War|
|Part of the American Indian Wars|
|United States of America||Tukudeka|
The Sheepeater Indian War of 1879 was the last Indian war fought in the Pacific Northwest portion of the United States; it took place primarily in central Idaho. A band of approximately 300 Shoshone people, the Tukudeka, were known as the Sheepeaters because they ate Bighorn sheep Rocky Mountain sheep akin to other bands of Shoshone who were known by those sacred foods they lived amongst and ate by hunting, fishing, and gathering them, such as: the Agaideka; Salmoneaters, Tukadeka; (Bighorn) Sheepeaters, and different bands across Shoshone homelands.[circular reference]. Hence, because the Tukadeka bands were proficient at hunting they were known as 'Sheepeaters' as Bighorn Sheep were a main staple of food, clothing, and tools.
Leading up to the war, European-American settlers accused the Shoshone of stealing horses in Indian Valley and killing three settlers near present-day Cascade, Idaho during the pursuit. In August, the Shoshone were accused of killing two prospectors in an ambush at Pearsall Creek, five miles from Cascade. By February 1879 they were accused of the murders of five Chinese miners at Oro Grande, murders at Loon Creek, and finally the murders of two ranchers in the South Fork of the Salmon River in May. There was no evidence for these accusations.
United States troops were ordered into action based on the settler's complaints. Heading the campaign against the Sheepeaters was Troop G of the 1st Cavalry led by Captain Reuben Bernard, Company C and a detachment of Company K from the 2nd Infantry Regiment under the command of First Lieutenant Henry Catley, and 20 Indian scouts commanded by Lieutenant Edward Farrow of the 21st Infantry. The troops were all heading toward Payette Lake, near present-day McCall. Bernard headed North from Boise barracks, Catley headed South from Camp Howard, and Farrow headed East from the Umatilla Agency.
Throughout the campaign, the troops faced difficulty traveling through the rough terrain. The first segment of the campaign, from May 31 to September 8, was through the Salmon River, dubbed the "River of No Return" because it was barely navigable. By August 20, a Sheepeater raiding party of ten to fifteen Indians attacked the troops as they guarded a pack train at Soldier Bar on Big Creek. Those who defended the pack train included Corporal Charles B. Hardin along with six troopers and the chief packer, James Barnes. They managed to drive the Sheepeaters off with only one casualty, Private Harry Eagan of the 2nd Infantry. By October, the campaign ended once Lieutenants W.C. Brown and Edward S. Farrow, along with a group of twenty Umatilla scouts, negotiated the surrender of the Sheepeaters.
- Parker, Aaron. The Sheepeater Indian Campaign (Chamberlin Basin Country). Idaho Country Free Press, c1968.