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This bow and arrow display is part of the Teton Valley Museum’s exhibit that recognizes the role Native Americans played in the history of the valley.

Native Americans figure into the earliest histories of Teton Valley. They are in the journals and tales of fur traders and mountain men, trappers and soldiers.

This tales start with John Colter, who is believed to be the first European to explore the valley in 1807-08. Colter is said to be a participant with the Crows in a fight with the Blackfeet, the first of several battles on record in the valley.

Native Americans favored the valley for its abundant game, plentiful berries and streams filled with fish. Some reports said they came to the valley to escape the scourge of mosquitoes elsewhere in the area.

There is some evidence American Indians visited the area due to a spiritual reverence for the mountains. Near the top of the Grand Teton, a feature called The Enclosure was said to have rocks arranged ceremonially.

Throughout the first half of the 19th century the valley was the site of many trapper and native rendezvous, including the 1832 Pierre’s Hole Rendezvous, where fur trading was combined with socializing.

After that rendezvous came one of the best documented trapper and Indian battles on record. It was the Blackfeet versus the trappers and their Shoshone, Nez Perce and Flathead allies. Ten battle participants left written records.

At the time homesteaders arrived in the valley in the 1880s and 90s, Native Americans were still hunting and fishing in the valley, but in much smaller numbers than before.

To read accounts of the battles and experiences homesteaders had with the few remaining native inhabitants, visit the Teton Valley Museum. The museum also has a huge exhibit of arrowheads and spearheads and other tools used by the native people.