Being Now Strong In Numbers,
They Venture To Hunt The Buffalo In The Plains Eastward Of The Mountains,
Near Which They Spend The Winter, Till The Return Of The Salmon Invites Them
To The Columbia.
But such is their terror of the Pahkees, that, so long
as they can obtain the scantiest subsistence, they
Do not leave the interior
of the mountains; and, as soon as they have collected a large stock
of dried meat, they again retreat, thus alternately obtaining their food
at the hazard of their lives, and hiding themselves to consume it.
"In this loose and wandering life they suffer the extremes of want;
for two thirds of the year they are forced to live in the mountains,
passing whole weeks without meat, and with nothing to eat but a few
fish and roots. Nor can anything be imagined more wretched than their
condition at the present time, when the salmon is fast retiring,
when roots are becoming scarce, and they have not yet acquired strength
to hazard an encounter with their enemies. So insensible are they,
however, to these calamities, that the Shoshonees are not only cheerful,
but even gay; and their character, which is more interesting than that of
any Indians we have seen, has in it much of the dignity of misfortune.
In their intercourse with strangers they are frank and communicative;
in their dealings they are perfectly fair; nor have we, during our stay
with them, had any reason to suspect that the display of all our new
and valuable wealth has tempted them into a single act of dishonesty.
While they have generally shared with us the little they possess,
they have always abstained from begging anything from us.
With their liveliness of temper, they are fond of gaudy dresses and all
sorts of amusements, particularly games of hazard; and, like most Indians,
delight in boasting of their warlike exploits, either real or fictitious.
In their conduct towards us they have been kind and obliging;
and though on one occasion they seemed willing to neglect us, yet we
scarcely knew how to blame the treatment by which we were to suffer,
when we recollected how few civilized chiefs would have hazarded the comforts
or the subsistence of their people for the sake of a few strangers.
. . . . . . . . .
"As war is the chief occupation, bravery is the first virtue
among the Shoshonees.
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