They feared they were on the brink of war. It had been three weeks since Chief Justice Kinney issued a warrant for chief Bear Hunter’s, Sanpitch’s, and Sagwitch’s arrests. The three chiefs were wanted for the murder of settler John Henry Smith and his horses. This was the most recent attack the settlers had discovered since they heard of the ten miners killed three days prior.
Kinney had sought the military assistance of Col. Patrick Edward Connor and his men to execute the natives. The Shoshone faced immediate infiltration.
Two more days passed and they still had not seen Colonel Conner’s men.
It was just before dawn the one morning. Chief Bear Hunter stood at the head of the camp surrounded by his brethren.
“We must secure the camp,” he warned. “Our time is limited.”
“We have already made hiding places with these,” said one of his men, holding a long willow branch. “What more?
“Dig,” Bear Hunter responded. “Dig pits around the river banks for retreat. ”
“Can’t we just try to negotiate with them instead?” asked one feeble tribeswoman. “We cannot afford to keep fighting.”
“Silly woman, we have tried!” Chief Bear Hunter said in exasperation. “Chief Sandpitch is in the City of Salt Lake as we speak, trying to negotiate peace. But do you think they will have it? No, these white men don’t want our friendship. They have been taking our land, killing our game, and destroying our resources. And when we try just for one moment to retrieve what is rightfully ours, they retaliate. They shoot. They kill. These are not a peaceful people we are dealing with. So now we must prepare for battle.”
Chief Bear Hunter turned around to go back into his hut. He needed quiet. There was careful planning to be done if he wanted to keep his Shoshone people alive.
Then something off in the horizon caught his attention.