Monday, January 28, 2019

Jan. 29 marks anniversary of worst massacre of Indians in American West

Interpretive site overlooking area of massacre
At 6 a.m. on January 29, 1863 -- the coldest time of year in southeastern Idaho's Cache Valley, perhaps as cold as -20 °F that morning of deep snow -- the U.S. Army attacked a Shoshone Indian encampment on the Bear River in what was then southeastern Washington Territory, a few miles north of today's city of Preston.

As the warriors exhausted their ammunition defending against the 200 attacking soldiers, the battle devolved into what is described today as the worst single massacre of Native Americans by whites in the history of the American West.

By a civilian's body count after the killing ended, 493 Shoshone -- including at least 90 women and children -- lay dead, as did 21 attackers. Official reports tallied Indian dead at 246, with 160 survivors taken prisoner. Recent research indicates that the Indian dead were left unburied, their skeletal remains visible for years.

Each year on this date, a ceremony memorializes the massacre near the killing ground, in an area designated a national historic landmark in 1990. A hilltop vista point just off US 91 provides parking, interpretive signage, picnic tables and a sweeping view of what is now a pastoral valley of farms.


Interpretive signs and an interpretive overlook are on the east side of U.S. 91 a few miles north the Bear River and Preston.

Many commonly used maps omit the sites. GPS users will find the parking area and overlook at: 42.152918 -111.907387

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