How did Native American tribes indigenous to Yellowstone Nationwide Park (e.g., Shoshone, Blackfeet, Crow, and so on.) understand the land (e.g., ideas on geothermal exercise) and what was their relationship like with white/European trappers and explorers coming into the area within the early 1800s?
I’ve just lately turn out to be within the historical past of Yellowstone Nationwide Park and am curious to find out about Native American views on the land and their earliest recognized associations with white/European trappers and explorers within the area.
Specifically, I would wish to find out about any distinguished Native American creation tales involving what’s now Yellowstone NP, how numerous tribes traditionally used and valued the land (for looking, lodging, and so on.), and what their ideas have been on the geysers and the opposite geothermal exercise within the space. From my cursory analysis on the topic, tons of tribes have ties to Yellowstone with a number of the most distinguished being the Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Crow. What are the earliest accounts of contact between these tribes (and/or others) and the white/European trappers and explorers equivalent to John Colter, who have been coming into the area within the early 1800s?
PS ~ I made a [similar post](https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/feedback/zbtfka/what_was_the_early_dynamic_like_between_native/) yesterday within the subreddit r/AskHistorians however it hasn’t obtained any feedback but. I hope okay that I re-phrased my query for this subreddit.
In lieu of a response, if anybody can level me to any good books or different assets to assist in giving me a greater understanding of the Native American tribes indigenous to Yellowstone NP, their totally different views on the land, and/or their early dynamic with white/European trappers and explorers within the area I would very a lot respect it.
Comments ( 25 )
Try to read James Willard Schultz.
There is no or few about YNP, but I don’t think his descriptions are different from what happened between tribes and whites
[Here](https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/lost-history-yellowstone-180976518/) is one article about a book, Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park, by Douglas H. MacDonald.
American Indians and National Parks, Univ AZ Press (1998)
You might find the following books interesting/address your question:
Crimes against Nature by Karl Jacoby
Saving Yellowstone by Megan Kate Nelson
Empire if the Summer Moon may shed some light on interactions between many different tribes and white settlers and military.
“Quahadis were the hardest, fiercest, least yielding component of a tribe that had long had the reputation as the most violent and warlike on the continent; if they ran low on water, they were known to drink the contents of a dead horse’s stomach, something even the toughest Texas Ranger would not do.”
A Land So Strange by Andre Resendez doesn’t specifically mention YellowStone National Park but is a good insight into how native Americans lived and interacted with each other and the settlers.
It’s a Spanish perspective. The first part of the book is mainly to do with the Spanish but the second half of the book has most of the interactions.
I hope this helps.
Here is an article from the Smithsonian https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/lost-history-yellowstone-180976518/
There is a book called 1491, which discusses the Americas pre-Columbus. It started with what is now modern day Mexico, and unfortunately I had to return it to the library before getting much farther in. But I bet that the later chapters would cover the American West which would include that area. At least for the creation myths portion of your question.
May I recommend the McCracken Research Library at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for anything related to Yellowstone. Worth an in person visit if you’re really interested in these topics. https://centerofthewest.org/research/mccracken-research-library/
I grew up in the town directly east of the park and the museum there is Smithsonian grade.
This interactive map is excellent for getting to the specific tribes of areas, https://native-land.ca/.
When you search for Yellowstone it names and hyperlinks to their info pages of the 4 tribes which sites resources and links to the tribes websites, if there is one. I know for where I live, the local tribal websites are a trove of amazing information of their history as a tribe and anout the land itself.
The 4 tribes linked:
– [Newe Sogobia (Eastern Shoshone)](https://native-land.ca/maps/territories/eastern-shoshone/)
– [Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla](https://native-land.ca/maps/territories/cayuse-umatilla-and-walla-walla/)
– [Apsáalooke (Crow)](https://native-land.ca/maps/territories/apsaalooke-crow/)
– [Tséstho’e (Cheyenne)](https://native-land.ca/maps/territories/cheyenne/)
The Blackfeet and Crow were fierce warriors and Kit Carson killed them at every opportunity.
I seem to remember reading on a plaque somewhere in the park that they tended to avoid the region which they perceived as haunted by evil spirits.
I would take this with a grain of salt for several reasons. First off, informational plaques at parks and musea are actually not anywhere near as rigorous as they should be (though, _in general_, the National Park Service is pretty good about this sort of thing). Secondly, it hits a lot of “lol stoopid savages” tropes that depict indigenous people as slaves to superstition. And finally, Yellowstone National Park is HUGE, beautiful and very abundant for people who live off the land. It would be stupid to avoid the entire region ignoring the material benefit to living there. (I seriously cannot stress enough how enormous Yellowstone is. It’s not the largest national park, but it’s up there. Please don’t clog up Grand Loop Road trying to get in and see Old Faithful and then go back to your hotel in Jackson. Take Yellowstone slow and take it all in.)
I’d be interested in hearing some input from someone more familiar with the topic than me. I would email my old anthropology professor but I think she’s getting sick of me bugging her every time I have a question about Native American archaeology or culture. 😅
There were no foreign trappers coming in. The Natives were the trappers and the people coming in were traders, bringing them technology they’d never seen before in exchange for the furs. As you might imagine, trading furs for metal cookwares or rifles was a pretty compelling arrangement before it all fell apart.
Another perspective to keep in mind, and this is not true for all indigenous peoples of course, is that a lot of Indigenous knowledge was/ is shared verbally and not always documented in writing like anthropological textbooks, as many colonial settler cultures tend to do.
A lot of indigenous history is explicitly not communicated to colonial cultures, researchers, anthropologists, etc… as to protect their culture from the people that displaced and slaughtered them.
Sorry this probably isn’t the research/ content you were looking for!
Some other tribes native to the Yellowstone NP area, incase you want to do more research on them 🙂
Newe Sogobia (Eastern Shoshone)
Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla
Professor Amy Lonetree at UC Santa Cruz is a Shoshone Indian (IIRC) and a professor of Indigenous History. She probably knows the answer to your questions, if you care to email her.
This USGS site has a decent background: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/yvo/news/land-burning-ground-history-and-traditions-indigenous-people-yellowstone
Mountain Shoshone used the geothermal pools to heat bighorn sheep horns to stretch in order to make very powerful bows out of the softened horns and deer sinew.
Peoples would also cook foods in baskets or sacks inside of the hot pools for cooking.
There are some really good environmental history books that have sections on Yellowstone, looking at how the land was being used before the national park was created – they look at Native American use and also local white use., and how those uses were criminalized. Karl Jacoby’s *Crimes Against Nature* and Mark Spence’s *Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks* are both really great.
Not directly this, but the book Dispossessing the Wilderness by Mark David Spence talks about the removal of Native Americans in the national parks
Empire of Shadows by George Black touches on this. [https://www.amazon.com/Empire-Shadows-Epic-Story-Yellowstone/dp/1250023203](https://www.amazon.com/Empire-Shadows-Epic-Story-Yellowstone/dp/1250023203)
In short, the rumors that American Indians were “afraid” of YNP is a myth. There were no year-round habitants, but that’s because Yellowstone is freezing. And, remember, Yellowstone is massive. Certain areas were often inhabited by the very dangerous Blackfeet, and they’d stay away. Other areas were less hospitable, and so weaker bands of tribes (like the Sheepeater Shoshone) were forced into them.
Here’s another good read. [https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/yvo/news/land-burning-ground-history-and-traditions-indigenous-people-yellowstone](https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/yvo/news/land-burning-ground-history-and-traditions-indigenous-people-yellowstone)
Not far from the subject of the hx of indigenous ppl in Yellowstone I would recommend reading Heartland. From what I gathered from this read you have to appreciate that indigenous people’s relationship with land is obviously not tied to a single location but covers a large expanse of land. National park boundaries, state lines, and international borders came later on.
Here’s a book written by Dr Joe Medicine Crow – last War Chief of the Crow Nation.
He wrote many books on Crow culture and history but a lot of them aren’t published anymore.
ETA: I am Crow. And iirc, we don’t have origins out of Yellowstone National Park. The beginning of our people start with two Chiefs who lived to the east among many lakes and forests. Both chiefs received visions from the Great Spirit, and a pod of seeds. One was told to plant the seeds to provide sustenance for their people. The other – Chief No Vitals – was to go west and plant the seeds in the mountains they find. No Vitals did not leave immediately, but when he was in middle afe. He and the people who went west became the Crow but they didn’t have a name originally. They wandered for 100 years before they settled in Crow Country. The went as far west as the great Salt Lake, as far south as north New Mexico, and finally settled in southern Montana/northern Wyoming. No Vitals was dead by then, but his protege Running Coyote was entrusted with the seeds to the mountains, named by Chief Medicine Crow as “the Beartooths, the Wind River Mountains, the Crazy Mountains, the Absarokas, and the Grand Tetons”.
“The Crow country is a good country. The Great Spirit has put it exactly in the right place; while you are in it you fare well; whenever you go out of it, whichever way you travel, you will fare worse.” – Chief Arapooish to Mr Robert Campbell of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company.
Also, just wanted to say, according to Dr Medicine Crows book, some French brothers ventured from their Canadian Outpost and came across us and named us Beaux Hommes. Because we are some damn good looking people. 😎
“The Origins of the Yellowstone River” is one of the only verified and authentic native stories of the region. A Northern Shoshone man named Ralph Dixey told a version of it, and it was collected in 1953 by folklorist Ella E. Clark. Other than this story, there is little reliable info or documentation on legends, myths, or other native folklore about Yellowstone.
I highly recommend “Tales from America’s National Parks: Campfire Stories” edited by Dave and Ilyssa Kyu. It touches on 6 national parks and has a section on Yellowstone but mentions native folklore and stories from each park which the editors said were hard to come by as someone else mentioned here that a lot of native stories were told by word and not recorded.