TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
BY SABRINA LEE
Before the pioneers settled into the area that is Weber County, this land belonged to the Shoshone. The Northwestern Band of Shoshone, mistakenly called the Weber Ute, were nomadic peoples that followed their food source. They camped near water sources, foraged, and followed the herds to hunt. When the pioneers entered the area there were both peaceful and violent interactions. We know of these interactions mostly through the perspective of the pioneers. Shoshone history is oral. Passed down through repetitive story telling from the elder members of the tribe to the younger members of the tribe.
Chief Little Soldier led a small band, roughly 400 people at its height, of Shoshone throughout Weber County. His band camped within the walls of Bingham’s Fort during the harsh winter of 1854-1855. Their destitute state was due to the landscape change caused by settlers. The plants, grasses, and animals they could freely forage, and hunt had become scarce or disappeared.
Relations between the Shoshone and the Bingham Fort settlers were peaceful, which was unusual since most of 1853 had been spent building forts on the order of Brigham Young due to Indian and settler fighting in the central part of the Utah Territory.
Little Soldier was known to enter pioneer homes and sit himself down for dinner. He knew he was always welcome and would not begin eating until he could give the blessing. He was baptized into the Mormon faith by George Washington Hill, whom he considered a dear friend.
On one such visit to George Washington Hill’s home, he found his daughter and grandson ill with a whooping cough. He gathered his oil and laid hands on the child. The baby’s color returned to his, he began breathing at a normal rate and his cough subsided. Little Soldier left the home to seek out George in Salt Lake City. They returned to the home together to find the child peacefully sleeping and learned that he had not coughed and slept through the night. The child was Louis Moench, future president of Weber Academy.
One encounter with Little Soldier was between Ellen Moore Wilson, daughter of early settler David Moore. Ellen and her infant son were sick. Chief Little Soldier often came to visit, and upon walking into the home, he could tell they were afflicted with measles from the odor. Chief Little Soldier quickly left to forage herbs. On his return he steeped them into a tea and gave it to Ellen to drink. The next morning Ellen and her son were covered in measles. His remedy quickly spread to the other settlers. He freely shared his knowledge of herbal remedies and medicines with the settlers.
Chief Little Soldier served his people for 44 years. He is buried in an unknown location in the Ogden City Cemetery. Upon his death, his family and surviving wife scattered across Utah and up to Idaho. A branch of his family settled in the Layton area, and others can be found living with the Goshute Tribe. His wife, after his death, is found on the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Census roll living in on the Idaho reservation.
For more information on the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation visit nwbshoshone.com.