This exhibition tells the story of the Virginia City Treaty of 1868, how it affected the Lemhi Shoshone Tribe, and the research that has been conducted to date. Washington State University’s Professor Orlan Svingen and his public history students have worked in collaboration with the Mixed Bands at Fort Hall: Shoshone, Bannock, and Sheepeater Indians, to illuminate the history. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the 57-minute documentary of the same title.
The Virginia City Treaty between the United States Government and the Shoshone Tribe was never ratified by the government. In 1868, the treaty was negotiated “in good faith” and subsequently signed by Chief Tendoy, the leader of the Mixed-Band of Shoshone, Bannock, and Sheep Eater people in southwestern Montana Territory. Tendoy then ceded 32,000 square miles of aboriginal territory in 1870 for a permanent treaty reservation in central Idaho. In 1875, the United States accepted this treaty reservation cession of 32,000 square miles in exchange for a temporary reservation in the Salmon River country of Idaho. In 1905, the U.S. rescinded that temporary reservation, prompting the Mixed-Band’s 200-mile removal south to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The film highlights the discovery of a National Archives document, which reveals what many regard as a violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The documentary film, “In Good Faith,” (2018) is written and directed by Beverly Benninger, narrated by Forest Goodluck, and produced by Beverly Penninger and Alyson Young. The production company is Naka Productions, Inc. This public history field work and resulting exhibition has been made possible by the generous support from John W. and Janet M. Creighton. It is decades of collaborative work between the Shoshone-Bannock tribe and the students and faculty at WSU. It is a powerful story for all ages.