Subversive Historian -01/29/09

The Bear River Massacre

One-hundred and forty-six years ago on this day in people’s history, the Bear River Massacre occurred. On January 29th, 1863, hundreds of volunteer militiamen from California attacked Northwestern Shoshone Indians camped along the convergence of Bear River and Beaver Creek. Prior to the violence, white Mormon farmers had encroached on Shoshone lands along the present day Utah – Idaho border impoverishing them of their resources. Westward settler expansionism was, then, the root of ensuing Shoshone attacks on farms and ranches as a means of survival. After a series of incidents, Colonel Patrick Edward Conner was called upon by Utah territorial authorities to take action. The bloodshed that followed ended in the deaths of at least 250 Shoshones of which ninety were women and children. The massacre was heinous as Shoshone women were raped and children were brutalized by the marauding militiamen.

Having taken place during the Civil War, the murderous history of Bear River has been all too often disregarded, much as the bodies of its victims were, as they were left to rot on the field.

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