IntroductionThe Great Basin American Indians, like so many other historical tribes, have a fascinating history. Here, you will find interesting information on where they lived, their traditions and customs, clothing, what weapons they used, their handmade art, and the tribal rituals of these men and woman. There is also a list of the Great Basin tribes.
The high desert regions between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains make up the territory that has been home to the indigenous peoples of the Great Basin for the thousands of years. It includes all of Nevada and Utah, the southern regions of Oregon and Idaho, a small area of southwestern Montana, western Wyoming, eastern California, a portion of northern Arizona, and the majority of western Colorado.
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Great Basin American Indian Tribes List
- Bannock Tribe
- Chemehuevi Tribe
- Kawaiisu Tribe
- Mono Tribe
- Paiute Tribe
- Panamint Tribe
- Shoshone Tribe
- Washoe Tribe
- Ute Tribe
Facts about the American Indian Tribes of the Great Basin
- Great Basin families were typically nuclear families or "kin cliques". They generally consisted of a man, a woman, and their children. Other family members were sometimes known to live in the home as well such as a widowed mother or a brother or sister.
- From about 1800-1850, these Native American Indians, also known as the "Desert Culture" were divided into horse-using and non-horse-using groups.
- Marriage practices varied from the norm in response to sparse scattered populations and the difficulty in finding eligible mates. In some of the tribes, a woman would sometimes marry a set of brothers. This was called fraternal polyandry by anthropologists.
- Although many of these Indians continue to live in the same territory their ancestors occupied, many have relocated to modern day cities or towns.
- Quite a few of the Great Basin languages are either endangered or near extinction. The older Great Basin Indian peoples speak the native language, but the younger generations have not learner or even used the language.
- All of the tribes participated in dances, an important tradition to the Native Americans. The Sun Dance was a four-day religious centered festival that was held each year during the summer solstice and revolved around the greatness of the sun, focusing on harmony and rebirth. The Northern Paiute of western Nevada held ghost dances. It was attempt to dance and pray enough to make the whites disappear. A Bear Dance was also held to ask the gods for enough food for all.
- Children took part in the all important quest of gathering food as soon as they were of age to be effective helpers.
- These tribes were known to use primitive tools and weapons such as bows and arrows, stone knifes, rabbit sticks and digging sticks. Drills were used for making holes in bone, wood and other natural materials. Scrapers were used for cutting and removing the flesh of animals.
- The Great Plains was a region of extreme temperatures. Winter clothing consisted of rabbit-skin robes and blankets. In the hot summer months, the Indians wore little or no clothing.
- Basket weaving was very popular among the Great Basin tribes. It was needed as a tool for the seasonal harvest, but was also a means of artistic expression that often resulted in very complex designs and elaborate weaves.
- In all of the Great Basin groups, men and women could both become Shamans. Shamans were said to have the power to cure disease, and tell of the future. If the Shamans were not able to save enough of their people, they were sometimes killed.
- The Great Basin Indian way of life was changed forever when the white people moved in and occupied the land. They began farming, mining, and ranching and the area that was once used by the Indians for food-gathering was no longer accessible to them or in some cases was completely destroyed.