Shoshone-Paiute Tribes History

Shoshone-Paiute Tribes History/Links

Time History
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The coyote, like his brother the wolf, was a spiritual being. In the beginning the coyote left his homeland in the Americas and traveled eastward across the ocean in the direction of the rising sun. In distant lands, he acquired a bride and with her had a great number of children. These children were Indians, the forefathers of the great tribes that were to inhabit the North and South American continents. Preparing to return home, the coyote put them all in a wosa, a woven willow basket jug with a cork. Before his journey, he was instructed not to open the jug until he reached his country in the Rockies and the Great Basin. Being a sly and curious person, and hearing singing and the beating of drums within the wosa, the coyote thought it would not hurt to take a peek when he arrived back on the eastern coast of the American continent. But when he opened the jug, the children inside jumped out and scattered in all directions across North and South America. By the time he got the cap back on, the only two persons who remained in the wosa were the western Shoshone and the Paiute. These he brought home with him. When he reached the Great Basin, he opened the jug, and out fell the last two children. They, at once, began to fight. The coyote kicked them apart and said to them, "You two are my children. Even though the rest got away, you two will be able to fight against the best and beat them." Thus, the western Shoshone and Paiutes, or the Newe and Numa peoples, who now live in California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon, began as allies and populated the Great Basin.

Legend taken from A History of the Shoshone-Paiutes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, by Whitney McKinney, the Institute of the American West and Howe Brothers, 1983.

Time History

Definitions: Newe people = western Shoshone; Numa people = Paiutes

1820s First contact with the whiteman, who crossed the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin as they headed for the west coast.
1848 Gold discovered in California, which increased white traffic. Era of treaty making with the Shoshone, Paiutes, Bannocks, Utes, and Goshutes to protect the route the white travelers used to enter and exit California.
1855 August 7, 1855--First treaty with the western Shoshone. However, it was not ratified by Congress and as a result the U.S. Government never recognized it, although the Shoshone accepted and continued to hold to the treaty.
1860s Silver mines opened in Nevada, which brought more white people into Newe and Numa country, pushing the Indians into canyons and mountains.
Start of Civil War. Gold and silver mines became more important to the northern government, which resulted in increased protection by the soldiers of the route to the west through Newe and Numa lands. The army built forts at different locations--Fort Halleck (on the Humboldt River near Starr Valley, Nevada), Fort Ruby (in Ruby Valley, Nevada), and Fort McDermitt (on present Nevada-Oregon border).
1863 July 30, 1863--The northwestern Shoshones signed the Box Elder Treaty. The Treaty of Ruby Valley was signed with the western Shoshone. The treaty was known as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
1865 A treaty with three Bannock bands and one western Shoshone band was signed. These Indian bands occupied the Bruneau Valley and the Boise Valley area.
1866 The treaty of 1866 contained questionable terms which had to be renegotiated concerning the Indians' land cession. Governors changed before the matter was finalized. The new governor wanted one agency for the Indians in southern Idaho, rather than several which were under consideration. The three Bannock bands (the Boise, Bruneau, and Camas Bannocks) accepted the move to the Shoshone-Bannock reservation at Fort Hall.
1877 Two reservations were set aside for the western Shoshones (34 bands). One was the Carlin Farms comprised of 51.61 acres which was created by an Executive Order. The whites claimed that they had occupied the land before the Executive Order was signed, and on January 16, 1879 the Carlin Farms Reservation was rescinded. Establishment of Duck Valley Reservation, which was partly in Nevada and partly in Idaho (20 miles long and 17 miles wide).
1881 First school erected (had 25 students). During this time the Duck Valley Reservation was enlarged to 400 square miles, or 256,000 acres.
1887 General Allotment Act of 1887 alloted land to Indians, but it was designed to end tribal life by opening the remainder of reservation lands which were not alloted to non-Indians.
1900 A census survey of the Duck Valley Reservation showed a population of 224 Shoshones and 226 Paiutes with a population of 450.
1904 September 10, 1904--First telephone line was constructed, and connected the Agency with Elko, Nevada, which was one hundred miles away.
1936 Wildhorse Reservoir was built between 1936 and 1937, which dam helped solve the problem of a dwindling water supply from the Owyhee River on the reservation.
1967 In 1967 to 1969, a new dam was built at the same site as the old one.

Taken from Idaho Indians Tribal Histories, Idaho Centennial Commission and the Idaho Museum of Natural History, 1992; and from A History of the Shoshone-Paiutes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, by Whitney McKinney, the Institute of the American West and Howe Brothers, 1983.

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Comments and questions: David Comer
Revised 26 Nov 2002