Chief Pocatello Monument
Chief Pocatello's People — The Shoshone
The band led by Chief Pocatello were members of the Shoshone tribe. Shoshone territory included most of Idaho, northern Utah, northern Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Central Nevada and in California, in the Death Valley and Panamint areas.
Originators of the Horse Culture in the Intermountain West
The Shoshone introduced the horse to the Intermountain West, having traded with the Ute and Comanche for their first horses in the early 1700's. Shortly thereafter the Nez Perce acquired horses, followed by the Crow and Blackfeet.
Horses revolutionized life of the tribes that acquired them. They enabled easier and more efficient travel and greatly expanded hunting ranges. Tribes that possessed horses had a significant competitive advantage over those that did not.
Just as in other native cultures centered upon the horse, a Shoshone man's wealth was measured by the number of horses he owned. Horses elevated the owner's prestige and constituted a significant asset in trading.
Upon his death, Chief Pocatello was buried with 18 of his best horses. It is said that he was almost never seen on anything but white horses, a color that has great spiritual significance to the Shoshone.
The Shoshone were formidable warriors when circumstances called for it, but they excelled as traders. Because their territories sat at the gateway of the Rocky Mountains, the Shoshone utilized an extensive trade network that brought them into contact with the Plains Indian tribes to the east, and with the Ute and Comanche to the south. There are documented records of Shoshone trade into Spanish territory.
Warriors, Master horsemen, Astute traders. The Shoshone were a vital part of the complex tribal constellation in the Intermountain West.