Newenee: The Shoshonean Peoples of Southern Idaho

A painting of Shoshonean peoples gathered around a fire along the Snake River, lit by moonlight. One person holds the fossil skull of a saber-toothed cat. Behind the group are tipis and fish drying on racks.
"Summer Stories"

Painting by Derek No-Sun Brown, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes.

In the fall of 2021, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument added new wayside exhibits to the Snake River and Oregon Trail Overlooks. The new exhibits interpret the site's rich fossil resources, as well as the human history of the Snake River Plain. The National Park Service collaborated with representatives of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes to write text for a new exhibit, Newenee: The People. The exhibit panel also features artwork created specifically for Hagerman Fossil Beds by Derek No-Sun Brown, a Shoshone-Bannock artist. Signs at two trailheads include a welcome message provided by the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, along with the names of some local plants and animals in both Shoshone and Bannock languages.

Learn more on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' Official Website

Welcome From the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

The Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute peoples’ rich heritage spans the valleys, rivers, streams, steppes, lava fields, deserts, and mountains of Idaho. Understand that the homelands of our people reach from the tallest peaks to the deepest canyons, and beyond any state borders. These lands and waters we hold sacred. The original resources here once sustained salmon beyond count as well as us, the Newenee, our word meaning “the people.” Newenee, speakers of Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute languages, may also be called Shoshonean. Only a few generations ago, many of our ancestors lived here in the Hagerman area on the Bia Ogwaide (“big river,” as Shoshone speakers say, or “Snake River.”) We were forcefully removed, settled on reservations, and involuntarily we adapted to different ways of life. Yet, our history and interaction with our original territories did not stop there, but continues to this present day. Now, together with you, the new visitor, our history continues. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes cordially welcome you here, and wish you will join us in appreciation and protection of these lands for the future of all.
A wayside exhibit panel sits alongside a wooden boardwalk, with the Snake River and Fossil Beds in the background. The panel features Derek No-Sun Brown's painting, Summer Stories, and text.

Newenee: The People

Newenee is a Shoshonean plural word meaning “human beings” or “the people.” Newenee, speakers of Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute languages, may also be called Shoshonean.

When your gaze overlooks the Snake River, the scene has been altered drastically by contemporary life and technology. Yet, the river, the land, and the fossils have caught the attention of generations of Newenee for thousands of years, and further to time immemorial. You may be amazed at the discovery of paleo-animals, just as amazed as the ancient ancestors of the Shoshonean people were too. The bones coming out of the ground spark the imagination and curiosity of all. Many Shoshonean stories, from folklore to oral history, are tied to this area, because of its long usage and importance as a resource.

Before the man-made dams on the Columbia and Snake River, the historically plentiful salmon runs of the Snake River to the natural barrier of the Shoshone Falls drew in the people. This area is in the center of vast traditional seasonal subsistence cycles that Shoshone and Bannock peoples had lived for millennia. The entire landscape is considered home, and the plants, animals and other elements for life are provided by nature, so long as these gifts are properly cared for and respected.

“We go back to our traditional homes and areas to renew ourselves; our people mostly do this to teach their children about their ancestors who are buried in all these areas…It is our way of life that I am living that comes from ancient times.”

Tribal Elder
Deward Walker 2015 Cultural Landscapes study

Craters Of The Moon National Monument & Preserve, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Minidoka National Historic Site

Last updated: November 8, 2023