Shoshones, Or Snakes, a family of North American Indians, embracing the Shoshones proper, the Utes, Comanches, Moquis, Cheme-hueves, Cahuillo, and the Kechi, Kizh, and Netela of California. The Shoshones proper are a large and widespread people. According to their tradition, they came from the south, and when met by Lewis and Clarke in 1805 they had been driven beyond the Rocky mountains. The various Shoshone bands have gone by numerous names. The most important were the Koolsatikara or Buffalo Eaters, who have long defended their homes on Wind river, and the Tookarika or Mountain Sheep Eaters, a fierce tribe in the Salmon river country and upper Snake river valley. The western Snakes near Fort Boise were separated from the others by the kindred Bannacks. The Shoshocos (footmen), called also White Knives, from the fine white flint knives they formerly used, were digger tribes on Humboldt river and Goose creek, and included apparently most of those in the basin of Great Salt lake. These bands were generally mild and inoffensive, lurking in the mountains and barren parts, and having little intercourse with the whites. About 1849 they were in open war, and the peace made with some of the bands at Salt Lake, in September 1855, did not end it.
In 1862 California volunteers, under Col. Connor, nearly exterminated the Hokandikah or Salt Lake Diggers in a battle on Bear river. Wau-shakee's and other bands of the Koolsatikara Shoshones made peace at Fort Bridger, July 2, 1863; Pokatello's and other bands of the Tookarika at Box Elder, July 30; the Sho-shoco or Tosowitch at Ruby valley, Oct. 1; and the Shoshones and Bannacks at Soda Springs, Oct. 14. In 1864 the Yahooskin Snakes made peace, and with the Klamaths and Modocs ceded their lands; and on Aug. 12, 1865, the Wohlpapes also submitted. The government did not promptly carry out these treaties, and many of the bands renewed hostilities. In 1867, in the campaign of Gen. Steele, a number of Indians were killed, and immense stores of provisions laid up by the Shoshones were destroyed. Gen. Augur at last allowed them to come in and make peace at Fort Bridger. The government then attempted to collect the whole nation and restrict the Shoshone bands to certain reservations. The Yahooskin and Wohlpape Snakes had prospered on the Klamath reservation, although their crops frequently failed. The Fort Hall reservation in Idaho was begun in 1867 for the Bannacks, and several bands of Shoshones, about 1,200 in all.
The Shoshone reservation in Wyoming, set apart under treaty of July 3, 1868, for Waushakee's and other bands of eastern Shoshones and Bannacks, is exposed to attacks from the Sioux, and only about 800 have united there. There are also the northwestern Shoshones in Nevada and Utah, estimated at from 2,000 to 3,000, and a band of 400 in the N. W. part of Idaho. - Vocabularies have been obtained from various bands of the Shoshones, but no critical study of their language has appeared. The Episcopalians have a mission on the reservation in Wyoming.