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Chief Pocatello (1815–October 1884) was a leader of the Shoshoni, a Native American people in western North America. He led attacks against early settlers during a time of increasing strife between emigrants and Native Americans. After making peace with the United States, he moved his people to their present reservation in Idaho and led the Shoshoni during their struggle to survive following their relocation. The city of Pocatello, Idaho is named in his honor.

Biography

Pocatello was born in present-day northwestern Utah. He was the leader of the Shoshoni at the time of the arrival of the Mormons into Utah in the late 1840s. In 1850s he led a series of attacks against emigrant parties in the Utah Territory and along the Oregon Trail. He gained a reputation among Mormon leaders and Indian agents as a leader of an "outlaw" band of Native Americans. Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormons, attempted a policy of reconciliation and appeasement of the Shoshoni, but the arrival of the United States Army in the Utah Territory in 1858 exacerbated tensions between the emigrants and the Shoshoni.

In January 1863, Pocatello received advance notice of the advance of U.S. Army troops from Fort Douglas under Colonel Patrick Edward Connor, who had set out to "chastise" the Shoshoni. Pocatello was able to lead his people out of harm's way from the Army, thus avoiding the catastrophe of the Bear River Massacre. Pocatello sued for peace after pursuit from the Army. Pocatello agreed to relocate his people to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation along the Snake River. Although the U.S. government had promised $5,000 in annual supplies, the relief rarely arrived, forcing continuing suffering and struggle among the Shoshoni.

In 1875, faced with starvation among his people, Pocatello led them to the Mormon missionary farm of George Hill in Corinne, Utah, with the hope that a mass conversion of his people to Mormonism would alleviate his people's suffering. Although the missionaries willingly baptised the Shoshoni, the local population of white settlers did not receive the Shoshoni openly and agitated for their expulsion. In response, the U.S. Army forced the Shoshoni to return to the Fort Hall Reservation.

In the late 1870s Pocatello granted a right-of-way to Jay Gould to extend the Utah and Northern Railway across the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The extension of the railroad was motivated by the increasing flood of settlers into the Idaho Territory following the discovery of gold. The city of Pocatello, Idaho, founded along the railroad during this time, is named for him.

After his death in 1884, Pocatello's body was interred in a deep spring in Idaho along with his clothing, guns, knives, and hunting equipment. Eighteen horses were also slaughtered and put into the spring on top of his body.

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