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First Poste: Jan 24, 2010
Mar 6, 2011

Shoshone or Shoshoni Tribe and Their Horses

Shoshone men on horseback. Library of Congress X-32287.

The Shoshone are a Native American tribe in the United States with three large divisions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern. The Shoshone were sometimes called the Snake by early White trappers, travelers, and settlers. The Northern Shoshone are concentrated in eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and north-eastern Utah. The Eastern Shoshone tribes lived in Wyoming, northern Colorado and Montana. Conflict with the Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho pushed them south and westward after about 1750. The Western Shoshone tribes ranged from central Idaho, northwestern Utah, central Nevada, and in California about Death Valley and Panamint Valley. This group is sometimes called the Panamint. The Idaho groups of Western Shoshone were called Tukuaduka (sheep eaters), while the Nevada/Utah ones were called the Gosiute or Toi Ticutta (cattail eaters).

Possibly the most famous member of the Shoshone tribe was Sacagawea, who accompanied the Corps of Discovery with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their exploration of the Western United States. The estimated population of Northern and Western Shoshone was 4,500 in 1845. 3,650 Northern Shoshone and 1,201 Western Shoshone were counted in 1937 by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Shoshone were the first of the northern tribes to obtain horses from the Spaniards who brought horses into the area which is now the American Southwest in the 16th century. The Shoshone traded horses with the Utes and Comanche in the early seventeen hundreds. By the early 18th century, many Spanish settlers lived throughout the region, as far north as southern Colorado. Although people had traveled widely for the purpose of trade for thousands of years, the horse made long distance travel much easier. Horses gave the Shoshoni a distinct advantage over neighboring tribes. They expanded their territory far to the north, even into what is now Canada, pushing back their enemies, the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet and other enemy tribes raided Shoshoni camps for horses, yet allied tribes "visited them for the purpose of swapping and bartering for their cayuses."The tables were turned when the Blackfeet acquired guns from Canadian traders and drove the Shoshoni back to the area where Lewis & Clark found them in 1805.

Trade Items

With the coming of the horse the Sheepeaters excelled at the manufacture of clothing. They became outstanding furriers. Their clothing was purchased by mountain men and Indians, alike. The horses made it easier to hunt the elk, deer, buffalo and other animals.

Characteristics of Lemhi-Shoshone Barb Horse

The Barb horse was first used for war. The breed possessed stamina, endurance, and was an easy keeper. The Barb horse was sure-footed and performed well in the mountainous terrain. The build was narrow, the bones strong, the feet tough, possessed a short coupling, strong back, and was agile and easy to maneuver. There is a major difference between the original Barb horse and the horse of the Lemhi-Shoshone. The Barb horse hails from the Fertile Crescent area of Middle Asia. The breed can be traced through its genotype. The Mustang descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors over 400 years ago. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers and settlers moved into North America, bringing their horses with them. As such, their ancestry traces back to Barb and Arabian horses brought to Spain by the Moors. The Mustang descended from Spanish horses which either strayed, broke loose or were stolen from the explorers herds. These horses multiplied freely over hundreds of years on the open plains of the West. In 1834, for instance, 15,000 Mustangs were seen in the vicinity of an Indian camp in Texas. The Mustang's wild home gave it a tough and independent nature. Its hearty constitution made it an excellent horse for cowboys and some were even broken to pull stagecoaches. The Mustang is found throughout the Western United States. The term "Mustang" is derived from the Spanish work mestena which means horses of uncertain ownership.

The following can be read in more detail by following this link: Lemhi-Sheshone

"A mustang can be many combinations of breeds. It is not a genotype. alert and curious in demeanor robust; spirited hot blood (that is, it has a red blood corpuscle count of 35% more than the cold-bloods, such as the draft horse; this allows them to tire more slowly and recuperate more quickly) tractable, unless abused high equine intellect size 13-2 to 15 hands; 875 to 950 pounds reaches full maturity at 7 to 9 years, with a corresponding increase in longevity (one exceptional mare had and raised her last foal at 29) eyes perceptive, set low and wide nostrils elastic, crescent-shaped, with roomy nasal cavity allowing for large extension and ample air intake ears small to medium neck muscular but not coarse or short back short, with just 5 lumbar vertebrae rather than 5 and a fused piece or 6; 16 or 17 rather than 18 pairs of ribs loins deep and strong, allowing for heavier muscling, which results in weight carrying ability and strength to maneuver and push ahead barrel well filled, with long underline tail low set, with long croup which is in equal balance between hip, pin bone, and stifle legs well-boned with large, strong joints, tendons, and ligaments; feet compact, comparatively rounded, elevated, with thick, dense, walls; need no shoes except in severe conditions many colors including duns, blacks, blue corns, chestnuts, bays, palominos, etc. History The Barb horse traces back through antiquity to the time of the Persians and Scythians, in the area of the Fertile Crescent (NE from the Mediterranean Sea, between the Tigris and Euphrates River, then SE to the Persian Gulf.)

"Just how these people came to possess the horse is not yet known, nor is it known for how long a period of time they had it before they gave some to King Soloman in approximately 1950 B.C., but that gift was the source of the Barb to the Jewish-Hebrew people, the Israelites. The Jewish-Hebrews moved into and through many areas over the years. Significant to this history is their time in Africa and Spain, where they followed marauding Ishmaelites in their conquests, and provided the Barb as a warhorse to both Ishmaelites and Berbers. (Thus came the name Barb, as the Berbers were notoriously Barbarian in nature.) The Ishmaelite conquests included almost all of Africa, Spain, Portugal, and parts of France. They were heading for New Britain but were finally stopped due to the determination of the Franks (of Germanic descent), and because they were by then saturated with war and spoils. Also, typical of people, politics was involved and there was much infighting among the tribes. The Barb, always serving as a superlative warhorse, remained in the hands of the Jewish-Hebrew people.

"Some of the horses remained in Africa, where for many years the people of Morocco placed great value in them. Most (with the advent of oil and wealth) have been lost or mixed with other breeds. The Barb that still exists in Morocco, Algeria, and Libya, by our research, is not the same horse as the Barb was at the time of the Spanish conquest of the "New World," but in the intervening time from then to now, has been changed into more of a show horse, as those people no longer have a need for a "war horse." Barbs stayed in Spain for many years through Spain's defeat and finally, some 400 years later, through her victory over the Moors. This victory again was due to the Franks who survived the Moorish conquests and had afterward grown in numbers. As Spain's power grew, she sent explorers to the New World, among these the Conquistadors. At that time, the Jewish-Hebrew, still in possession of the Barb, had met with the hatred of King Ferdinand. Most fled back to North Africa but some, disguised as Conquistadors, came with the Barb to America. King Ferdinand on learning of this sent an army expressly for the destruction of the Jewish-Hebrew and succeeded almost completely. The horses they had brought with them, the Barb, stayed and thrived.

"As with other breeds and types of horses the Barb went various routes. Some became feral, others were used by ranchers, and still others were possessed by Indians. Of these groups, very few remained pure. Research and evidence indicate that the original Nez Perce horse was the spotted Barb, but once the cavalry took custody of the Indians, the stallions were destroyed or castrated and the mares bred to draft breeds. A few Indians broke away from the Chief Joseph chase and went to the Kiamichi mountain area of Oklahoma taking some of their original horses with them, and some of those remained pure. Some of the feral bands stayed pure also, having existed in some virtually inaccessible areas. In the 1950's a few of these that could still be found and taken were gathered and built into a nucleus stock. Some of that nucleus, (called by some of the old timers "the originals"), was mixed with other breeds and this mix was labeled "wild mustangs." A few of those "originals" that comprised the nucleus." Quien Sabe Ranch

*The Lemhi-Shoshone also gave Chief Joseph 30-50 barb horses when he was evading the U.S. Army. As a result, most of these horses were slaughtered by the U.S. Army in the years to follow (Ex: From the movie Hidalgo) mainly because the Army's horses could not keep up with them because of their traits. Once we return home we will re-establish our herd from the original Lemhi-Shoshone bloodlines that remain pure. Quien Sabe Ranch

For More Information:

The Trail Tribes
Lewis and Clark
Shoshoni Indian Tribe History