Northern Shoshone and Bannock
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
All My Relations
Pipe Ceremony and Peacemaking
Great Circle
Intertribal Relations
"How the Indian Averted Famine"
Naming Ceremonies
Agaidika Perspective on Sacajawea
Horses, Trade, & Travel
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
  Sovereignty & Tribal Government
Arts & Artists
Annual Festival Dances
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with the U.S.
  Early Contact
Fur Trade
Naturalists in Shoshone Country
Missionaries and Emigrants
Making Treaties
Lemhi In Limbo
Lemhi Reservation and  Loss
Shrinking Reservation
References Cited

Regarding this Shoshone petroglyph, John Rees notes that the symbol "represents the shaman...The symbol for "mystery" is the ascending spiral which is converted to a zig-zag motion when connected with a person or individual...[as in this figure] where it is directed toward the earth denoting an appeal to... mother-earth" (Rees: ISU Archives).
Image courtesy Idaho State University Library, Special Collections Department, Minnie Howard Papers, #MC001-23-03 Portion of Plate XIX.
"Crow Old Man" of the Lemhis, was the Indian name of Ben Ariwite also known as the "Last" Shoshone Medicine Man
The sentiment of "last" is misleading, typical of memorializing a tradition though practices continue.
[Rod Ariwite, current Chairman of the Lemhi tribe, is the great-grandson of Ben Ariwite.]
Image courtesy Lemhi County Historical Society.


Tom Edmo, Shoshone medicine man in 1930's.
Image courtesy Idaho State Historical Society.


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Ronald Snake Edmo.
" The world of my ancestors."
[Snake is the great-grandson of Tom Edmo.]

Lemhi Pass > Culture > All My Relations
O'yonde ne Nanewenee'
Bull elk in sagebrush.
Photo by Kenneth Furrow.
Medicine Man
From John Rees, former agent of the Lemhi Reservation:

"What is termed a doctor of medicine by the white man was called by the Shoshonis "nat-soo-gant", meaning one possessed of the knowledge of using healing and curative objects. This knowledge the Indian gained by actual experience. When a young man reached the warrior age he was expected to find his "boo-ha-gant", meaning one possessed of a helper, which was done by the youth absenting himself to a secret place until through some dream or vision, an object appeared to him which would help him through life. This object might be anything which he could tie up in a small buckskin sack and wear secretly about his person or it might be some animal or vegetable in which case some part, perhaps, could be utilized as a talisman to carry about with him, as the claw of an eagle or bear or beaver or badger which would endow him with a certain amount of dominion over the sky or earth or water or the underground regions, or it might be a vegetable root prepared in various ways. This "boo-ha-gant" must be kept a profound secret and known only to himself, otherwise it would loose its efficiency. This helper aided him in his labors here on earth and its potency extended no further. Its influence might go so far as to aid him in treating other person's afflicted" (ISU archives, Rees Collection).


The Great Medicine Man and the Spring

Quishindemi, "Bob-tail-horse," told the following legend to J. A. Harrington in 1925:

"Long years ago, a great sickness fell upon the Indians throughout the Snake River Valley. The Shoshoni chiefs and sub-chiefs called upon a medicine man to tell them what to do for their people. The medicine man's name was Tenupah Dome-up, which means "Man-from-the-Sky." Man-from-the-Sky went into his lodge alone, opened his medicine bundle, and performed his sacred ceremonies. Then he returned to the chiefs and said to them, "Bring all those who are ill to my tipi tomorrow morning, very early, I will take them on a journey of five suns." Then he led the chiefs up the trail along the Snake River toward the Three Tetons."

"After five suns, the medicine man called a halt. At the place he chose, he made his sacred tipi and stayed in it for several hours. When he came out, he advised those who were sick to follow him next day at sunrise to a place which the spirit had shown him. The next morning, just as the stars were disappearing, all who were ill started from their tipis. They were helped by their friends and relatives. All followed the medicine man to a place in the hills not far from where they had made camp the night before. Here Man-from-the-Sky told them all to stop; he ordered the sick people to remove their clothes. Then dressed in his ceremonial robe and carrying in his hand his medicine bundle, he led the people to a creek. "Healing waters," he said, "will soon flow from a rock that is up on the side of the hill. They will soon reach the place where your sick people are. When the healing waters reach you, drink from them and bathe in them. They will not flow long. I will soon stop them." So he went up to the rock on the hillside above the place where the Indians were waiting. With something from his sacred bundle he tapped the rock. Then he spoke secret, mystic words. Instantly the water flowed from the rock in great quantities. Soon it reached the part of the creek where the sick people waited. They drank from it and they bathed in it. Then the medicine man tapped the rock again and the water soon ceased to flow.

"After awhile, he told them that he could cause the healing waters to flow again. Again he took something from his sacred bundle, tapped the rock, and spoke the mystic words. Again a great quantity of water flowed from the rock into the creek. The Indians drank from it and bathed in it. Then the medicine man caused it to stop. All day the ceremony continued at intervals. When the stars came out, Man-from-the-Sky stopped the ceremony and the healing waters for the night. All the people returned to their camp, as the medicine man directed. By the next morning most of them had been cured of their illness. Those who were still sick were again taken to the spot in the creek where they had been the previous day. Again the waters flowed and ceased to flow in obedience to the tapping and the words of the medicine man.
When the people awoke the next morning, every sickness was gone. All had been healed by the healing waters. On the third day the Indians returned to their homes entirely cured.

"Do not visit the healing waters alone," the medicine man warned them. "Never go there without me. Those are sacred waters. Only I control them. Anyone who goes there alone is sure to die." Forever after, the Indians held the place in reverence and in awe. No one is known to have visited it again. And Tenupah Dome-up became known as one who could control the forces of nature. He was henceforth the greatest medicine man of the Shoshoni people" (Clark: 1966).

Shoshone Sundance

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Robert Perry talks about the Shoshone Sun Dance.

Big Medicine Moose

Rare albino moose (1 in 10,000) near Soda Springs.
Photo courtesy Idaho Fish & Game.
Background: Shoshone drum James Willard Schultz photo,
Montana State University Special Collections, 10.#431