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Site of Deadliest Native American Massacre Identified in Idaho

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Author Topic: Site of Deadliest Native American Massacre Identified in Idaho  (Read 311 times)
Red Dawn, Fire People
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« on: May 03, 2015, 02:41:51 am »

Grim as they are, these depictions nonetheless give researchers clues about the lay of the land as it appeared more than 150 years ago. The course of the Bear River changed over time, Cannon explained, and the creek by the village — for a time remembered as Battle Creek — has since been diverted by irrigation projects.

“That was the most important landmark for us — to understand where the course of Battle Creek was — because that’s where the village was,” Cannon said.

“If we could identify that particular feature on a landscape and work back from there … we’d most likely have the best chances of finding an archaeological signature of the winter village.”
[Explore the site of another pivotal conflict: “First Evidence Found of Storied Battle That Stopped Spain’s Eastward Expansion“]

Taking their cues from the maps and other sources, Cannon’s team began surveying the land with ground-penetrating radar, magnetic gradiometer and metal detectors.
Bear river massacre site

Archaeologists surveyed the site with ground-penetrating radar, magnetic gradiometer and metal detectors. (Photo courtesy K. Cannon/USU)

Although the land has been used intensively since the 1860s, Cannon said, these technologies can pick up traces of the Shoshones’ lodges, like rock alignments, hardened floors, and old charcoal hearths.

“We think the lodges would have a geophysical signature because they’d have a central hearth, they have rocks that ringed the lodges that kept the canvas down, and then every one of them was burned, so those things burning in place should leave a geophysical signature behind,” Cannon said.

While evidence so far is scant, the surveys have produced faint indications of where the ruined village might rest.

“We’ve got some anomalies that look really interesting,” Cannon said.

“One magnetometer image has a semicircle alignment that may be one of the lodges. So the stuff that we see coming out of the geophysics is what we see as most compelling at this point.

“But until we excavate, we’ll never know what exactly they are.”
[Read about the newly found site of another important conflict: “Plains Indian Fortress With Moat, ‘Underground Apartments’ Unearthed in Oklahoma“]

Cannon’s team will resume work this spring, using aerial thermal imaging and other methods to explore the possible lodge sites more closely.

All of the groups involved in the research, he said — from government agencies and landowners to the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation — remain “very serious about protecting the heritage” surrounding one of the West’s forgotten tragedies.

“Nobody knows about these events,” he said. “They’ve been lost, and yet they’re incredibly important.

“So if we are able to find physical remains, we may be more able to make this event more visible to the general public.”
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