Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation of Utah (Washakie)

Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Nation of Utah (Washakie)

707 North Main Street , Brigham City, UT
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The Shoshone, Paiute, Bannock and Ute people are related, and call themselves Newe or Neme (the People). Prior to contact with Europeans, the Newe groups formed small extended-family groupings that traveled extensively as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to survive in the harsh environment of the Great Basin desert. Horses, guns, white contact, and disease destroyed this social organization, resulting in more formal identities and band loyalties. Pre-contact identities did exist to some extent according to the influence of horse ownership and resource use. What became the Northwestern Band of Shoshone band was part of those groups who had traveled largely on foot in a delicate balance of living off the land. The expression So-so-goi means “those who travel on foot.” The old ones called the Shoshone by that name. When horses became available, the So-so-goi joined the mounted hunting groups in annual harvests.

The Northwestern Shoshone traveled with the changing season. They looked upon the earth not just as a place to live; in fact, they called the earth their mother-she was the provider of all they needed for their livelihood. The mountains, streams, and plains stood forever, they said, and the seasons walked around annually. The So-so-goi believed all things came from Mother Earth.

In the early autumn, the Northwestern Shoshone moved into the region near what is now Salmon, Idaho to fish. They caught salmon and dried them for winter to use. After fishing was over, they moved into western Wyoming to hunt for buffalo, elk, deer, moose, and antelope. It was very important to get the big game, for it meant feast or famine. It also meant clothing and shelter for them.

In the spring and summer, the Northwestern band traveled around southern Idaho and throughout Utah. During these months, they spent their time gathering seeds, roots, and berries and socializing with each other. This was the time when women talked about the latest happenings of the tribe. Late summer was root digging time and smaller-game hunting time. Around late October, the band moved into western Utah and parts of Nevada for the annual gathering of pine nuts. The nutrient-rich nuts were an important part of the Shoshone diet. They could be ground up into meal for mush (cereal) or roasted and eaten as a dessert or snack.

The area around what is now called Franklin and Preston, Idaho, was a permanent wintering home of the Northwestern Shoshone. It was known as Moson Kahni, which means Home of the Lungs. The rocks in the area looked sponge-like and made the Shoshone think of lungs. In this area and the rest of Cache Valley were natural places for the Indians to make their homes. The land along the Bear River was in a natural depression with lots of willows and brush, which they could use. Hot springs were plentiful as were fish and wild game. Willows and brush served as wind and snow breaks during the winter months.