Great Basin Group

Published on July 6, 2013 by Casey

Love this article and want to save it to read again later? Add it to your favourites! To find all your favourite posts, check out My Favourites on the menu bar.

Photograph of Washoe women working
Great Basin People

Great Basin Group – Culture

The climate, land and natural resources that were available to the Indian tribes resulted in the adoption of the hunter gatherer culture shared by the Native American Indians of the Great Basin.

dna testing, dna ancestry testing, ancestry, genealogy, indian genealogy records, paternity testing, turquoise jewelry, native american jewelry

This section on the Native American Indians of the Great Basin provides facts and information about their languages, their Geography and Environment which consisted of barren wasteland of deserts, salt flats and brackish lakes.

The animals and the Plants, Trees and Crops provided their food, clothing and shelter. Learn about the Religion, Ceremonies and Beliefs of the Native American Indians of the Great Basin. The Ute Bear Dance, the Ghost Dance and the Sun Dance first emerged in the Great Basin.

The tribes of the Great Basin area included the Bannock, Paiute and Ute who spoke Shoshonean or Uto-Aztecan dialects.

Great Basin Group – Lifestyle (Way of Living)

The Great Basin (or desert) groups lived in desert regions and lived on nuts, seeds, roots, cactus, insects and small game animals and birds. These tribes were influenced by Plains tribes, and by 1800 some had adopted the Great Plains culture. The climate, land and natural resources that were available to the Indian tribes resulted in the adoption of the Great Basin Group culture.

Name of Group: Great Basin Group – the Desert culture, the seed gatherers

Languages: Shoshonean and Uto-Aztecan (Numic)

Geography of the State of Great Basin Group: Deserts, salt flats and brackish lakes

Animals: Sheep, squirrels, rabbits, deer, antelope, bison (buffalo)

Natural Resources: Sagebrush, grasslands, seeds, roots, wild rice

Culture and Lifestyle adopted: Nomadic Hunter gatherers

Art: Basket making

Types of housing, homes or shelters: Hogans

Famous Tribes of Great Basin Group: Shoshone, Bannock, Paiute and Ute

The Native Indians who lived on the borders of lands often reflected two different types of lifestyles.

Great Basin Group – Lifestyle (Way of Living)

The climate, land and natural resources that were available to the Indian tribes resulted in the adoption of the Great Basin Group culture. The basic Great Basin social and cultural patterns were those of the non-horse bands often referred to as the Desert Culture. The desert climate of the region and apparent lack of economic and subsistence resources led to the migration of many of the people. The Comanche and Eastern Shoshone were early Great Basin tribes who moved to the north and east, where they developed the horse-riding bison-hunting culture of the Great Plains Indians.

Great Basin Group – Religion, Ceremonies and Beliefs

The Religion, Ceremonies and Beliefs were based on Animism. Animism was a commonly shared doctrine, or belief, of the indigenous people of North America and Canada including the Great Basin Indian tribes. Animism is based on the spiritual or religious idea that the universe and all natural objects have souls or spirits. In this religion it is believed that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, trees, rocks etc. This belief is also extended to natural phenomena such as thunder storms and rain and geographic features such as mountains, caves or rivers also possess souls or spirits. Tricksters feature in the legends and mythology of the Great Basin peoples as do heroic figures or “transformers” who transform, or change, the world into its present state.

Great Basin Group – The Shaman

The Religion, Ceremonies and Beliefs of the Great Basin Group were also dominated by Shamanism in which a religious leader, called a Shaman, acted as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds. The majority of Great Basin shamans were males but female shamans were not uncommon.

Great Basin Group – Ceremonies

The Ute Bear Dance and the Sun Dance first emerged in the Great Basin as did the Ghost Dance. Two Paiute prophets named Wodziwob and Wovoka, introduced the Ghost Dance in a mystical ceremony designed to re-establish the native culture and restore the environment to pre-European levels. Other ceremonies included the Round Dance which was associated with the pinyon harvest and aimed at increasing the food supply and bringing rain.

Great Basin Group – Languages

The languages of the Great Basin Group included Shoshonean and Uto-Aztecan (Numic).

Great Basin Group – Physical Characteristics

The physical characteristics of Great Basin Group are dark brown eyes, prominent cheek bones, straight black hair, and scantiness of beard. The skin color of Native Indians varies from very light in some tribes such as the Cheyenne, to almost black in others, such as the Caddo and a yellowish color in such as the Flatheads.

Great Basin Group – Geography and Environment

The Geography and Environment can be generally described as dry, desert areas with very low levels of rainfall. There are high mountains and arid plains and deserts, deep canyons and occasional lakes. Very hot summers and cold winters. The Basin Indians acquired horses from the Europeans in the 1700′s and many migrated to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo.

Great Basin Group – Animals

The animals available to the Great Basin Group included deer, sheep, antelope, rabbits, hares, reptiles, snakes and insects.

Great Basin Group – Natural Resources

The sparse natural resources included seeds, berries, nuts, roots, leaves, stalks and bulbs. The principal resource were pinyon nuts (pine nuts). Seed bearing grass species, such as Indian rice grass were common in the high desert areas and important to the food supply of many of the peoples.

Great Basin Group – Houses, Shelters and Homes

The different types of Houses, Shelters and Homes depended on the materials available and whether the home was permanent or temporary. The homes of the Great Basin Group included Hogans.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
Cite This Source | Link To Great Basin Group
Add these citations to your bibliography. Select the text below and then copy and paste it into your document.

American Psychological Association (APA):

Great Basin Group Unabridged. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Great Basin Group Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 27, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Great Basin Group" Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 27 May. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, "Great Basin Group" in Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia Available: Accessed: May 27, 2015.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2015,
    title = { Unabridged},
    month = May,
    day = 27,
    year = 2015,
    url = {},
You might also like:

Tags:  , ,

Facebook Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.