Neither Wolf nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change

By David Rich Lewis | Go to book overview

2
NÊC + ̆IU, THE NORTHERN UTE PEOPLE

The Utes (Núc + ̆iu) are a culturally self-identifying group of affiliated bands which inhabited the eastern Great Basin and Rocky Mountain parks of Colorado, Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. They are Southern Numic speakers of the Numic (Shoshonean) family within the Uto-Aztecan language stock. 1 Once ranging widely throughout this region in search of food, trade, and resources, the modern Utes retain only a vestige of their extensive estate: the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah, Southern Ute in southwestern Colorado, and Ute Mountain along the western Colorado-New Mexico border.

According to their mythology, Utes are descendants of a myth-time world family composed of beings sharing both human and animal characteristics. Among the Southern Numic, "Earth Diver" myths account for the creation of land from Ocean Woman and explain how these myth-time animal beings (particularly Wolf and Coyote) shared in the final process of creation. Ute ancestors learned how to live and behave from this family until the animal beings became parts of the cosmic environment or took their present form. Animals observed in nature today are considered collateral relatives descended from these spirit ancestors. From the Ute point of view, their stories explain the natural order of the world and serve to instruct each new generation in the proper behavior toward that world and each other. 2

One Southern Ute story tells how Sinawaf (Wolf, the Ute culture hero/trickster) and Coyote (the trickster) populated the world. In the beginning there were no people. One day Sinawaf made his knife sharp and, without telling Coyote, went off to the hills to cut some nice straight branches from a tü'va bush (serviceberry). He brought back several bun-

-22-

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Neither Wolf nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Agriculture, Civilization, and American Indian Policy 7
  • Conclusion 20
  • 2 - NêC + ̆iu, the Northern Ute People 22
  • 3 - Agriculture and the Northern Utes 34
  • 4 - Hupa, the People of Natinook 71
  • 5 - Farming and the Changing Harvest Economy in Hoopa Valley 84
  • 6 - Tohono O'Odham, the Desert People 118
  • 7 - The Tohono O'Odham and Agricultural Change 133
  • Conclusion 168
  • Abbreviations 177
  • Notes 179
  • Index 231
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