TREMONTON — More than 150 years after a brutal massacre of Native Americans, two sets of remains from the Bear River Massacre reached their final resting place.
On Jan. 29, 1863, about 200 California volunteers led by Col. Patrick Edward Connor attacked the winter camp of the Northwestern Shoshone near what is now Preston, Idaho. The troops killed approximately 250 Native Americans — including 90 women and children — raped women, burned homes, and stole supplies and horses. It was the single greatest loss of Native American lives in American history.
Saturday morning, a group from the Northwestern Shoshone tribe held a traditional burial at the old Washakie Indian Cemetery, a sacred parcel of land for the tribe.
The group dug the grave, conducted ceremonies, tribal prayers, and ancient medicine, and carefully placed the remains in its resting site.
"(It is) something as a respect for them because they walked on the Earth before we did," said Larry Neeman, an elder of the Northwestern Shoshone tribe. "This is mostly our sacred ground here. They'll be protected here, they'll be watched over."
According to Shoshone tradition, the burial allows for the dead's bodies and spirits to reunite. Neeman hopes that Saturday's ceremony will both honor his ancestors and teach the tribe what must be passed on to future generations.