Idaho Falls - City of Destiny


Long-time residents of Idaho Falls remember Indian women coming to the back doors of city homes and sitting on the steps waiting patiently for the gift of a loaf of bread or other food. This was common well into the 1930s. Most homemakers were generous. Did they wonder why the Indians came begging?

Eastern Idaho Indians are of the related Shoshoni and Bannock tribes. Early fur brigades found them friendly; the Indians welcomed the added strength against the Blackfeet, raiding from the north. They had their own language, beliefs and practices. Family ties were strong: cousins were "brothers" and grandparents shared in the nurturing.

During the middle decades of the past century, the Indians lived well. From wintering spots along Snake River bottoms, extended families journeyed to westerly prairies to harvest camas root. Summer was for fishing and berry gathering. Numerous artifacts have been found in the hills and along the streams of Bonneville county. Teepee rings and fire rings are still to be seen.

The later-designated John's Hole at Idaho Falls was a well- used fishing spot. At Flathead Crossing--which later became the site of the Eagle Rock Ferry--piles of obsidian chips mark camps of considerable size where obsidian brought from elsewhere was shaped into arrows and tools. Families crossed the Snake here to proceed to Salmon River's bountiful fish harvest. In the fall, mounted hunting parties traveled the long distances to Montana and Wyoming to hunt buffalo and other large game.

Fortunes changed for the Indians. As in other parts of the nation, their subsistance customs were obliterated. The government's dealings with Idaho Indians is a tale of broken promises and coercion. Private citizens exhibited greed, dishonesty and hatred; the editor of the "Boise Statesman" frequently demanded "extinction." Even those whose intentions were good were blind to Indian culture and sensibilities.

Eastern Idaho Indians were commanded to stay on the Fort Hall reserve, denied most of their treaty hunting rights and told to farm for a living. With scant direction? With few tools, like three small plows for 1500 Indians? With no cash and no credit? It was a long season of hunger. Documented accounts are recommended reading.

The abused and the abusers are long gone. Hindsight is acute, but mewling and anger do not serve the present. Though plagued by some dissident voices, competent, modern-day Indian leaders strive for local direction of their domestic affairs, full citizenship with accompanying privileges and responsibilities, opportunity-- fair chances, appreciation of ethnic heritage, and respect as fellow human beings. Does not every American?

Submitter: Edith Lovell
Sources: David L. Crowder, "Tendoy, Chief of the Lemhis," Caldwell, Idaho, 1969. Alvin M. Josephy Jr., "The Indian Heritage of America," N.Y. 1968; Brigham D. Madsen, "The Bannock of Idaho," Caldwell, 1958; "Northern Shoshoni," Caldwell, 1980. Virginia Cole Trenholm and Maurine Carley, "The Shoshonis, Sentinels of the Rockies," Norman, Okla. 1964.



Begin Here
Introductory Comments
Chap. 1 - Agriculture
Potatoes, grains, sugar beets, livestock, irrigation.
Chap. 2 - Business and Industry
Banking, Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Brothers Seed.
Chap. 3 - Amusements, Arts and Music
Amusements: dancing, circus, baseball, theaters, Heise Hot Springs, War Bonnet Roundup, parades. Arts: painting, drama, dance, music, symphony, opera theatre.
Chap. 4 - Communications
Newspapers, telephone, broadcast.
Chap. 5 - Celebrations
Centennials and Jubilees, Pioneer Day, Intersec.
Chap. 6 - Churches
Chap. 7 - City Government
Mayors, City Hall, Public Library; Departments of Electricity, Fire, Police, Building and Planning, Parks and Recreation, Public Works.
Chap. 8 - Courthouse and Federal Post Office
Chap. 9 - Historic Preservation Efforts
Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission (Historic buildings, places, homes), Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Chap. 10 - Schools
Chap. 11 - Clubs/Fraternal Organizations
Lodges, Sportsmen's Association, American Legion and other Veterans Associations, Boy Scouts.
Chap. 12 - Transportation
Railroad, Automobiles, Aviation.
Chap. 13 - Medical Practice &Amp; Hospitals
Chap. 14 - Native Americans
Chap. 15 - Snake River
Bridges, Greenbelt, Temple.
Chap. 16 - Tourism and Hotels
Chap. 17 - Lawyers and Judges
Chap. 18 - War Efforts
Red Cross, World War I, World War II.
Chap. 19 - Population Growth
Chap. 20 - INEL
Appendix 1 - Bibliography Guide
Appendix 2 - Chronology