What was the lifestyle and culture of the Washoe tribe?
The Washoe tribe were originally seed gathers and hunters from the Great Basin cultural group of Native Indians. The Washoe tribe lived on the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in small family groups in small camps of grass houses or temporary wikiups. They spent most of their time gathering food and were dependent on fishing at Lake Tahoe and the nearby streams. The Washoe tribe never hunted animals for “sport” and the hunters always prayed to the Maker and asked for forgiveness for taking a life. Plants were never gathered unless they were going to be used and the tribe always thanked the Maker for their food. The tribe used canoes to travel across the waters. The Great Basin social and cultural patterns of the Washoe tribe were those of the non-horse bands. The Washoe tribe were skilled basket makers and wove the baskets so closely that they could contain the smallest of seeds and hold water. Neighboring Native Indian tribes of the Washoe were the Ute, Koso, Paiute, Panamint, Pueblo, Walapi and the Shoshone tribes. They were long-time enemies of the Northern Paiute who drove them from their tribal lands in Nevada to California. The white settlers that were clamouring to get to the California Gold fields or the Comstock Lode silver passed through Washoe lands. Some traders and settlers decided to stay, cut down trees and ruined the Pine Nut forests and trampled across the grasses that had once provided the Washoe with their means to survive.
What were the rituals and ceremonies of the Washoe tribe?
The rituals and ceremonies of the Washoe tribe and many other Great Basin Native Indians included the Bear Dance and the Sun Dance which first emerged in the Great Basin, as did the Paiute Ghost Dance. The Healers of the Washoe tribe used sacred items, such as eagle feathers and cocoon rattles, to assist in rituals and ceremonies. Another important ceremony of the Washoe tribe was the Round Dance and the Pine Nut dance which ere associated with the harvest pinyon (pine nut) and was performed in supplication for increased food supply and bringing rain. Washoe myths and legends tell of mythical creatures with special powers such as those they called “Water Babies” that they believed inhabited all bodies of water. “Water Babies” sometimes caused illness or death, but could also be an omen of good fortune. Another Washoe mythical creature was a giant man-eating bird they called "Ong" that nested in the middle of Lake Tahoe.
What language did the Washoe tribe speak?
The Washoe tribe spoke in their own unique language, which was markedly different from that of the Uto-Aztecan language that was used by other tribes that inhabited their region. Their name of their tribe derives from the Washoe word, waashiw (wa·šiw), meaning "people from here."
Where did the Washoe tribe live?
The Washoe are people of the Great Basin Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Washoe tribe.
The Washoe tribe originally lived in the American Great Basin region but with the advent of the horse many migrated to the Great Plains
Tribal Territories of the Washoe: Mainly Nevada and California
Land: Deserts, salt flats and brackish lakes
Climate: Very hot summers and cold winters with very low levels of rainfall
Animals: The animals included deer, sheep, antelope, rabbits, hares, lizards and snakes. Fish was also available from Lake Tahoe
Natural resources: pine nuts, seeds, berries, nuts, roots, leaves, stalks and bulbs. Indian rice grass was harvested