American Indian language American Indian art What's new on our site today!

Bannock Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Bannock Indian tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Bannock Indian homepage for more in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Bannock pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

Sponsored Links

   Bannock Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Bannock"? What does it mean?
Bannock is pronounced the same way that it looks in English, BAN-nock. Although this is the same word used by many Native American tribes to refer to frybread, bread is probably not the original source of the tribal name. The word for frybread comes from the Scottish word "bonnach," meaning a pan-cake. The tribal name Bannock is said to come from the Paiute word Pannakwati (or Banakwut), which means "riverside."

Where do the Bannocks live?
The Bannock Indians are native people of the Great Basin, especially what is now the state of Idaho. The Bannocks were far-ranging people, especially once horses were introduced, and they also had a presence in many other Western areas including Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Montana and even Canada. Here is a map showing the general location of Bannock and Shoshone territory.

How is the Bannock Indian nation organized?
Most Bannock people today live on the Fort Hall reservation in Idaho which they share with their historical allies the Shoshone. Indian reservations are lands that belong to a tribe and are under their control. The combined Shoshone-Bannock tribe has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the Bannocks are also US citizens and must obey American law. In the past, each Bannock band was led by a headman or a chief, who was usually (but not always) a male relative of the previous headman. Today, the Shoshone-Bannock tribes are governed by council members elected by all the people.

How many Bannock people are there today?
The population of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe is about 6000. However, not all of these tribal members are Bannocks. Originally, the Fort Hall reservation became home to four Shoshone bands and one Bannock band. So there were more Shoshone people in the community to begin with than Bannock people, but due to intermarriage, many Shoshone-Bannock people today have both ancestries.

What language do the Bannocks speak?
Most Bannock people speak English today. Some Bannock people, especially elders, also speak their native language, which is a dialect of Northern Paiute. If you'd like to know a few easy Paiute words, Manahuu (pronounced similar to "ma-nah-hoo") is a friendly greeting, and you can read a picture dictionary of Paiute/Bannock animal names here.

What was Bannock culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is a link to the homepage of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes. On their site you can find information about the Bannock people in the past and today.

How do Bannock Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with their friends, go to school and help around the house. Many Bannock children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Bannock kids also enjoyed footraces, and adults and teenagers played a ball game called shinny. A Bannock mother traditionally carried a young child in a cradle board on her back--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were Bannock men and women's roles?
Bannock men were hunters and warriors, responsible for feeding and defending their families. Bannock women did most of the child care, cooking, and cleaning, and also made most of the clothing and household tools. Bannock chiefs were nearly always men, but both genders took part in storytelling, traditional medicine, and making artwork and music.

Sponsored Links

What were Bannock homes like in the past?
Most Bannock Indians lived in wickiups. Wickiups are small round or cone-shaped houses made of a willow frame covered with brush. Some Bannock bands used the tall, cone-shaped buffalo-hide houses known as tipis instead, especially once they acquired horses. Here are some pictures of tipis, wickiups, and other Native American houses.

Today, Native Americans only put up a tepee for fun or to connect with their heritage, not for shelter. Most Bannocks live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Bannock clothing like? Did the Bannocks wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Bannock women usually wore long deerskin dresses with wide sleeves. Bannock men wore breechcloths and leggings, as well as buckskin shirts when the weather was cool. Both males and females wore Native moccasins on their feet. Later, Bannock people adapted European costume such as cloth dresses and vests, decorating them with beadwork and floral patterns. Here is a website about Indian clothes in general.

Bannock men did not originally wear Plains warbonnets like the Sioux, but in the 1800's some Bannock leaders adopted this custom from their neighbors. Bannock women sometimes wore basket hats. According to tradition, Bannock people only cut their hair when they were in mourning. Bannock men and women both wore their hair either loose or in two long braids. Bannock men often styled the front of their hair into pompadours or other styles, and sometimes wrapped their braids in fur. Some Bannocks wore facial tattoos, and they commonly painted their faces for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.

Today, some Bannock people still have moccasins or a buckskin dress, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear traditional regalia on special occasions like a wedding or a dance.

What was Bannock transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Bannock Indians weren't coastal people, and when they traveled by river, they usually built rafts. Originally the Bannocks would use dogs pulling travois (a type of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Once Europeans introduced horses to North America, the Bannocks could travel quicker and further.

What was Bannock food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Bannock were hunter-gatherers. Men usually hunted deer, antelope, and small game, and caught salmon, trout and other fish in the rivers and lakes. Women gathered camas roots, berries, nuts, and other plants. However, Bannock people moved around a lot in those days, and they would eat different things depending on the environment where they lived. In some areas, men would come together in a group for large communal bison hunts. In others, Bannock people were more agricultural and would plant corn and beans. Here is a website with more information about Native American food recipes.

What were Bannock weapons and tools like in the past?
Bannock hunters used bows and arrows. Fishermen used spears and nets. In battle, Bannock warriors fired their bows or fought with war clubs and hide shields. Women used carved wooden sticks to dig roots up from the ground, and wove baskets to store and transport food, belongings, and even water. Here is a museum exhibit with photos of Bannock baskets and other artifacts.

What are Bannock arts and crafts like?
Bannock artists are known for their beading and basket weaving. Here is a picture of a Bannock cradleboard decorated with fine beadwork.

What is Bannock music like?
The most important Bannock instrument is the drum. There are two traditional styles of Bannock drums: a flat drum that is held in one hand and struck with the other, and a large drum that stands on the floor and is played by many men in a circle around it at a pow wow or other community event. Here is a video of powwow drummers and dancers at the Shoban Festival at Fort Hall.

What other Native Americans did the Bannock tribe interact with?
The closest allies of the Bannocks were the Shoshones and the Paiutes. These tribes are still friendly today. The Bannocks sometimes fought wars against the Blackfoot and Nez Perce tribes, but at other times, these tribes were important trading partners.

What kinds of stories do the Bannocks tell?
There are lots of traditional Bannock legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Bannock Indian culture. Here is one story about the origin of the seasons. Here's a website where you can read more about Bannock myths.

What about Bannock religion?
Spirituality and religion were important parts of Bannock life, and some people continue to practice traditional beliefs today. It is respectful to avoid imitating religious rituals for school projects since some Bannock people care about them deeply. You can read and learn about them, however. You can visit this site to learn more about Bannock religious traditions or this site about Native American religions in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
There are not a lot of children's books specifically about the Bannock tribe. This book, Shoshone, contains some good information about the Shoshone-Bannock tribe. Older readers may be interested in The Bannock of Idaho, a more in-depth look at the Bannock tribe in particular. You can also browse through our reading list of recommended Indian books in general. Disclaimer: we are an Amazon affiliate and our website earns a commission if you buy a book through one of these links. Most of them can also be found in a public library, though!

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use to make your bibliography. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2020.

Thanks for your interest in the Bannock Indian people and their language!

Sponsored Links

Learn More About The Bannocks

Bannock Indian Tribe
An overview of the Bannock people, their language and history.

Paiute Language Resources
Bannock language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Bannack Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Bannack tribe past and present.

Paiute Words
Bannock Indian vocabulary lists.

Return to our American Indian Facts for elementary school students
Return to our menu of American Indian nations
Return to our menu of Basin tribes

Native Languages

Native heritage center * Forest County Potawatomi * Algonquin hotel * Native turquoise jewelry

Would you like to help support our organization's work with the Shoshoni-Bannock languages?

Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 * Contact us * Follow our blog