Member of a nomadic American Indian people who moved from the Great Basin (southern Idaho) to the Great Plains (Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Oregon) after acquiring horses in the 1700s. They are thought to stem from the northern Paiute and are related to the Shoshone. Their language is an Algonquian and Uto-Aztecan mix indigenous to the Great Basin. They adopted the buffalo-hunting lifestyle of the Plains Indians, but their numbers were severely reduced by smallpox in the 1800s and by the Plains Wars against US settlement in the 19th century. Today, many live on Wind River Reservation, Wyoming, where they number over 2,200 (1985).
Inhabitants of a mountainous and desert region, the Bannock lived off camas roots and wild plants, and also hunted buffalo. They lived in rough conical tepees. They fought with the Blackfeet and Nez Percé peoples, and attacked white settlers who were migrating west along the Oregon Trail.
As with many American Indians, the Bannock dwindled in number because of smallpox, a disease spread to them by white settlers in the 1800s. In 1863, the US Army defeated the Bannock and Shoshone in the Battle of Bear River. Later that same decade, the US government corralled the two peoples in Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho. The Bannock rebelled, and the Bannock War of 1878 ensued, resulting in many Bannock, including Chief Buffalo Horn, being killed by US troops. The Bannock were eventually returned to Fort Hall Reservation; many later moved to Wind River.