Shoshone-Paiute Indian Tribe of Nevada

Published on October 22, 2010 by John

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Shoshoni tipi, probably taken around 1890

Shoshoni tipi, probably taken around 1890

The Shoshone-Paiute are a Native American tribe that is comprised of the Newe Indians, or western Shoshone, and the Numa Indians, or Paiute. Although historically distinct tribes, they ultimately formed a collective tribal government after the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. The Shoshone-Paiute constitution was ratified in 1936. The majority of Shoshone-Paiute people live on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, which spans more than 400 square miles (about 1,036 square km) of land straddling Idaho and Nevada.

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Duck Valley Indian Reservation was originally created for the western Shoshone tribe in 1877 by President Rutherford B. Hayes in accordance with Captain Sam, a Shoshone leader. In 1886, President Grover Cleveland expanded the reservation for use by the northern Paiute people as well. Although the boundary of these lands were artificially demarcated, Duck Valley is considered to be within the original territories of the Shoshone-Paiute ancestors. Both the Shoshone and the Paiute can trace their ancestry to the region encompassed by the Duck Valley.

The area now comprised of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation has been inhabited for about 15,000 years. Like many Native Americans, the Shoshone and the Paiute lived as hunter-gatherers until the time of contact with Europeans. The Shoshone and Paiute tribes, however, also maintained several stable villages within what are now the states of Nevada, Idaho, and southeastern Oregon. Modern life on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation does not necessarily resemble traditional Shoshone and Paiute hunter-gatherer existence. Some traditional tribal activities and customs, however, are maintained including regular powwows.

In modern times, the Shoshone-Paiute tribes maintain their own business council and government. With its own housing authority, health and human services department, education, and law enforcement, Duck Valley is a self-sustaining community. Ranching and farming are possible on the reservation. The Shoshone-Paiute tribes also earn revenues from granting fishing and hunting permits to visitors. Tribal membership is estimated at more than 2,000, and approximately 1700 Shoshone-Paiute Indians live on the reservation.

According to legend, the ancestral coyote placed all of his children inside a special basket called a wosa. When the coyote uncorked the basket, all his children dispersed across the land except for the Shoshone and the Paiute. Upon reflection, the coyote then blessed both tribes and told them that they could conquer anything that comes their way.

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