Publication Date

Spring 5-31-1961


The Sun Dance of the Plains appeared in Idaho late in the nineteenth century. Fort Hall Shoshone had borrowed this complex rite from kinsmen in Wyoming. In spite of its foreign origin and somewhat alien spirit, the Sun Dance was enthusiastically received and soon overshadowed all other ceremonies. It now constitutes the paramount expression of tribal religion.

The introduction of the Sun Dance initiated a period of reorientation in Native religion. Considerable group effort was required to conduct the ceremony, and participation temporarily obliterated band distinctions. New leaders with knowledge of esoteric Sun Dance lore emerged from the ranks of recognized shamans. The rite itself was modified by the incorporation of shamanistic curing practices. Even its underlying purpose was altered to accord with Shoshone-Bannock religions.

The purpose of this paper is to determine the impact of the Sun Dance upon Shoshone-Bannock super-naturalism. Traditional religion will be considered and the introduced complex described in detail. Interaction of the two will be analyzed.


Shosone-Bannock, Sun Dance, Shamanism, Fort Hall Rite, Wyoming Shoshone

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Anthropology

First Committee Member (Chair)

Willard Willams Hill

Second Committee Member

E.A. Howard

Third Committee Member

Stanley S. Newman

Included in

Anthropology Commons