Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups

Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups

Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups

Basin-Plateau Aboriginal Sociopolitical Groups


This paper is based largely upon data collected during 6 months in 1935 on a field trip financed by the University of California and a grant-in-aid from the Social Science Research Council, and during a trip of 4 months in 1936 for the Bureau of American Ethnology. Other trips to the Great Basin area (fig. 1) had been made from time to time during the previous 9 years.

The research had several objectives. The first was to make an ethnographic reconnaissance of the Western Shoshoni and some of their Northern Paiute, Ute, and Southern Paiute neighbors. Most of the Shoshoni had not, to my knowledge, been previously studied and many had not even been visited by an ethnologist. The reconnaissance was made by means of element lists, of which 25 were procured from as many localities -- 3 from Northern Paiute, 1 from Bannock, 1 from Southern Paiute, 18 from Western Shoshoni of Idaho, Nevada, and Utah (2 of these being from Gosiute in Utah), and 2 from Northern Shoshoni of Idaho and Utah.

The second objective was to analyze the functional relationship of the different parts of the culture to one another and to the local environment. This analysis will be published with the element lists elsewhere.

The third aim was to ascertain the types of Shoshonean sociopolitical groups and to discover their ecological and social determinants. This is the subject of this paper.

Orthography used for native words will be found on page 273.

Initials in parentheses are informants.

English words in parentheses are translations of the native names which they follow.

A list of informants is given with the element lists elsewhere. The knowledge of each informant was, of course, greatest for his own village. It decreased for neighboring villages more or less in proportion to their remoteness from his own. These villages or the valleys in which they are located are shown on map (fig. 2). They are abbreviated as follows, those at which element lists were taken being starred:

NP-FSp, Northern Paiute of Fish Springs in Owens Valley.

NP-FLk, Northern Paiute of Fish Lake Valley, eastern California.

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