Stories From Stanley, Idaho

Stanley History: 10,000 Years Ago

Stanley History: 10,000 Years Ago

Could you have lived in the Sawtooth Valley 10,000 years ago with only a rock for shelter and stone tools for hunting and gathering?

Prehistoric people did live in the Sawtooth Valley, if only temporarily. Imagine surviving in this harsh climate wearing animal hides for clothes and making tools out of rocks, bones and wood for hunting and gathering. Courageous or crazy?

The Redfish Rockshelter holds ancient secrets of Stanley’s history. Evidence found at this archeological site near Redfish Lake dates back 10,000 years ago. When the site was excavated in 1972 and 1973, the discoveries were astounding.

Redfish Rockshelter – photo by Erica Cole

Hastkett points found at the Redfish Rockshelter date back to 9860 BP (Before Present time of 1950). These artifacts can be described as a stone tool that has a projectile-point created by flaking with a rounded base. They were believed to be used by hunters to thrust or throw the tool at large game. However, the discovery of these artifacts at the Redfish Rockshelter suggests it was also used to gather plants and for salmon fishing.

Haskett Artifacts (Source: www.arrowheadology.com)

Also found during excavation were small flaked lithic tools, Intermountain Ware ceramics and some ground stone. These findings date back to the Late Archaic period (5000 to 3000 years ago). What is so extraordinary about this discovery? It places mid-Plano period culture in a mountain environment where it was originally recognized as hunter-gatherer communities living on the Great Plains.

Fast forward to the Sheepeater Tribe…..

After 1700 AD, a band of mountain-dwelling Western Shoshone Indians inhabited the Sawtooth Valley. They were called the Sheepeater Tribe. Can you guess why? Most tribes were named based on what they ate and their diet consisted mainly of mountain sheep.

While in the Redfish Lake area, the Sheepeaters used the Redfish Rockshelter. Being a nomadic tribe, they most likely only stayed for a short period of time. They lived off the land by eating plants, game and fish while using timber and rocks for tools. They lived peacefully as they migrated throughout the central wilderness area sharing their culture and social traditions with other Idaho Shoshoni tribes.

And then the white men came along.

During the 1860’s, the mining boom brought white men to the area. As the story goes, the Sheepeaters and white men had their differences. The Sheepeaters were being blamed for stealing horses, robberies and for murdering two prospectors, two ranchers and five Chinese miners.

These accusations began the Sheepeater Indian War of 1879.

Colonel Bernard led his troops into the rugged, unexplored and unmapped territory of central Idaho in search of the tribe. The pursuit lasted about four months until 51 Sheepeaters surrendered. They admitted to killing the ranchers, but denied killing the prospectors and Chinese miners. After being questioned, they were relocated to the Fort Hall Reservation in southeastern Idaho.

Sheepeater Tribe (source: http://www.ronwatters.com/Images/WHJacksonSheepeater.jpg)

Later, the rumor mill circled with tales of white men disguising themselves as the Sheepeaters and killing the Chinese miners then living off their gold. They laughed when the Indians were blamed for the crime.

The Sheepeater Indian War was the last Indian war fought in the Pacific Northwest.


The Redfish Rockshelter is still standing, however, the site is currently closed.

Blog written by Erica Cole



Featured Local Events

DATE: March 2 - 4, 2018

TIME: Multi-times

LOCATION: Park Creek Ski Area, Alturas Lake Ski Area, Community Building, Stanley, ID

March 3rd & 4th, 2018 — Sawtooth Ski Club 16th Annual Ski Festival

  • SATURDAY, March 3rd, Park Creek Ski Area
    Highway 21, 7 miles W. of Stanley
    11am-2pm Homemade Chili & Treats
    Poker Run!!!
    Winning hand called at 1:30 pm
  • SATURDAY EVENING 5:30-8:30pm
    Stanley Community Building
    Dinner Extravaganza
    Incredible Silent Auction, bring your checkbook!
  • SUNDAY, March 4th
    Alturas Lake Ski Area
    Highway 75, 20 miles S. of Stanley
    11am-3pm Soup Kitchen Social
    Great ski trails and a great time!!!

The Sawtooth Ski Club will host the 16th Sawtooth Ski Festival March 3rd and 4th. Come ski, play, feast, dance, shop and socialize, all while supporting Cross Country Skiing in Stanley Sawtooth Country! At 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at the Park Creek Ski Trails, homemade chili and treats will await eager participants at the annual Poker Run. Donating fun lovers ski or snowshoe a fun course, stopping at stations to collect cards and when the game is called at 1:30, whoever has collected the best poker hand wins a most excellent prize! At 5:30 Saturday evening at the Stanley Community Building, our ski club celebrity chef will present a delicious dinner and at the same time an amazing silent auction will take place. Many local businesses, arts and crafts people and friends of the club donate lovely things, wonderful services, ski and fashion accessories and deliciously fantastic items to the auction. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 4th at the Alturas Lake Ski Trails Soup Kitchen Social, enjoy great skiing along with with trailside soup and cookies. All events are donation based, so be sure to bring your check book or cash for the donation jars. The Sawtooth Ski Festival is our only fundraising event of the year. We depend on memberships, donations and Ski Festival proceeds to fund our efforts to provide quality groomed cross country ski trails at Park Creek and Alturas lake. Call Karen Keiski at 208-774-3487 if you wish to volunteer for any of the events or donate to the silent auction. See you at the Festival!


LINK: http://sawtoothskiclub.com/

TEL: 208-774-3487

CONTACT: David or Karen keiski@ruralnetwork.net


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