tragic transformation for the Northwestern Shoshoni to a life of privation
and want came with the occupation by Mormon farmers of their traditional
homeland. The white pioneers slowly moved northward along the eastern
shores of Great Salt Lake until by 1862 they had taken over Cache Valley,
home of Bear Hunter's band. In addition, California-bound emigrants
had wasted Indian food supplies as the travelers followed the Salt Lake
Road around the lake and across the salt desert to Pilot Peak. The discovery
of gold in Montana in 1862 further added to the traffic along the route.
The young men of Bear Hunter's tribe began to strike back in late 1862,
raiding Mormon cattle herds and attacking mining parties traveling to
and from Montana.
The Indian aggression came to an end on 29 January 1863. On the morning
of that day, Colonel Patrick Edward Connor and about 200 California
Volunteers from Camp Douglas in Salt Lake City assaulted the winter
camp of Bear Hunter's Northwestern group of 450 men, women, and children
on Beaver Creek at its confluence with the Bear River, some twelve miles
west of the Mormon village of Franklin in Cache Valley. As a result
of the four-hour carnage that ensued, twenty-three soldiers lost their
lives and at least 250 Shoshoni were slaughtered by the troops, including
ninety women and children in what is now called the Bear River Massacre.
Bear Hunter was killed, and the remnants of his tribe under Sagwitch
and the chiefs of nine other Northwestern bands signed the Treaty of Box Elder at Brigham City, Utah, on 30 July 1863, bringing peace to
this Shoshoni region.