Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shoshone Indian Tribes, Language and Distribution

In his synopsis of the Indian tribes78 Gallatin’s reference to this great family is of the most vague and unsatisfactory sort. He speaks of “some bands of Snake Indians or Shoshone, living on the waters of the river Columbia” (p. 120), which is almost the only allusion to them to be found. The only real claim he possesses to the authorship of the family name is to be found on page 306, where, in his list 
9of tribes and vocabularies, he places “Shoshonees” among his other families, which is sufficient to show that he regarded them as a distinct linguistic group. The vocabulary he possessed was by Say.
Buschmann, as above cited, classes the Shoshone languages as a northern branch of his Nahuatl or Aztec family, but the evidence presented for this connection is deemed to be insufficient.

This important family occupied a large part of the great interior basin of the United States. Upon the north Shoshonean tribes extended far into Oregon, meeting Shahaptian territory on about the forty-fourth parallel or along the Blue Mountains. Upon the northeast the eastern limits of the pristine habitat of the Shoshonean tribes are unknown. The narrative of Lewis and Clarke79 contains the explicit statement that the Shoshoni bands encountered upon the Jefferson River, whose summer home was upon the head waters of the Columbia, formerly lived within their own recollection in the plains to the east of the Rocky Mountains, whence they were driven to their mountain retreats by the Minnetaree (Atsina), who had obtained firearms. Their former habitat thus given is indicated upon the map, although the eastern limit is of course quite indeterminate. Very likely much of the area occupied by the Atsina was formerly Shoshonean territory. Later a division of the Bannock held the finest portion of southwestern Montana,80 whence apparently they were being pushed westward across the mountains by Blackfeet.81 Upon the east the Tukuarika or Sheepeaters held the Yellowstone Park country, where they were bordered by Siouan territory, while the Washaki occupied southwestern Wyoming.

 Nearly the entire mountainous part of Colorado was held by the several bands of the Ute, the eastern and southeastern parts of the State being held respectively by the Arapaho and Cheyenne (Algonquian), and the Kaiowe (Kiowan). To the southeast the Ute country included the northern drainage of the San Juan, extending farther east a short distance into New Mexico. The Comanche division of the family extended farther east than any other. According to Crow tradition the Comanche formerly lived northward in the Snake River region. Omaha tradition avers that the Comanche were on the Middle Loup River, probably within the present century. Bourgemont found a Comanche tribe on the upper Kansas River in 1724.82 According to Pike the Comanche territory bordered the Kaiowe on the north, the former occupying the head waters of the upper Red River, Arkansas, and Rio Grande.83 How 0far to the southward Shoshonean tribes extended at this early period is not known, though the evidence tends to show that they raided far down into Texas to the territory they have occupied in more recent years, viz, the extensive plains from the Rocky Mountains eastward into Indian Territory and Texas to about 97°. Upon the south Shoshonean territory was limited generally by the Colorado River. The Chemehuevi lived on both banks of the river between the Mohave on the north and the Cuchan on the south, above and below Bill Williams Fork.

The Kwaiantikwoket also lived to the east of the river in Arizona about Navajo Mountain, while the Tusayan (Moki) had established their seven pueblos, including one founded by people of TaƱoan stock, to the east of the Colorado Chiquito. In the southwest Shoshonean tribes had pushed across California, occupying a wide band of country to the Pacific. In their extension northward they had reached as far as Tulare Lake, from which territory apparently they had dispossessed the Mariposan tribes, leaving a small remnant of that linguistic family near Fort Tejon.

A little farther north they had crossed the Sierras and occupied the heads of San Joaquin and Kings Rivers. Northward they occupied nearly the whole of Nevada, being limited on the west by the Sierra Nevada. The entire southeastern part of Oregon was occupied by tribes of Shoshoni extraction.