Yellowstone National Park by Hiram Martin Chittenden

By Hiram Martin Chittenden

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Page 9 2 Indian Occupancy of the Upper Yellowstone It is a singular fact in the history of the Yellowstone National Park that no knowledge of that country seems to have been derived from the Indians. The explanation ordinarily advanced is that the Indians had a superstitious fear of the geyser regions and always avoided them. How far this theory is supported by the results of modern research is an interesting inquiry. Three great families of Indians, the Siouan, the Algonquian, and the Shoshonean, originally occupied the country around the sources of the Yellowstone.

We thus find that the name, which has now become so celebrated, descends to us, through two translations, from those native races whose immemorial dwelling-place had been along the stream which it describes. What it was that led them to use the name is easily discoverable. The Yellowstone River is preeminently a river with banks of yellow rock. " Near the mouth of the Bighorn River stands the noted landmark, Pompey's Pillar, "a high isolated rock" of the same material. " All along the lower river, in fact, from its mouth to the Great Bend at Livingston, this characteristic is more or less strikingly present.

Colonel Norris records the following facts from this Indian's conversation:+ "We-Saw states that he had neither knowledge nor tradition of any permanent occupants of the Park save the timid Sheepeaters. . He said that his people (Shoshones) the Bannocks and the Crows, occasionally visited the Yellowstone Lake and River portions of the Park, but very seldom the * Lieutenant Gustav C. Doane, Report Upon the Yellowstone Expedition of 1870 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1871), 26. + P. W.

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