Religious Beliefs. Prior to extensive Christian missionary efforts and the introduction of the Peyote religion in the late nineteenth century, the Eastern Shoshone practiced two forms of religious beliefs and behavior. The first was directed toward personal success and survival through the acquisition of supernatural power from the world of spirits. The second was designed for the welfare of the community and of nature and to ward off impending prophesized disasters. The mythological beings and animations of nature and their powers were of central importance, with the relation between shaman and power being of supplication and dependency. A successful quest for power was expressed by a vision in which the power appears bestowing skills or protections, fetishes to call forth the power, a song, and individual taboos. Water Ghost Beings and Rock Ghost Beings were feared. The domain of ghosts included not only Ghost Beings, but old women, great-grandparents, apparitions, and whirlwinds.
Ceremonies. The Father Dance, the Shuffling Dance (Ghost Dance), and the Sun Dance were supplications addressed to beneficent beings, particularly Our Father. The Father Dance and the Shuffling Dance were especially a tradition among the Mountain Sheep Eaters and were usually nighttime events in the fall, winter, or spring in which both men and women participated in the singing of sacred songs. The Sun Dance, probably acquired from the Plains tribes, was a day-and-night event of the summer, restricted to men, with dancing and thirsting to exhaustion.
Medicine. It was believed that illness came from breach of taboos, malevolent dwarf people, and sorcery. On the other hand, they were pragmatic about childbirth, snake bites, minor ailments, and wounds and fractures. Houses where death had occurred were often abandoned.