The second part of our epic journey following the Native Americans of Nevada, continues looking at the lives of the peoples that were the forefathers of the American Nation. The way they lived and the development of these first Americans was dictated by the land they survived on, the climate, and the raw materials that were available in Nevada.
The natural resources of the region provided ways to harvest food, and the clothing that these people could wear. It also dictated the type of shelter that could be erected, mostly the shelter consisted of Wickiups and basic brush constructions.
The Life and Times of the Nevada Indians
The lives of the Native Indians that lived in Nevada was greatly affected by any newcomers that arrived in their territories. The Native Americans that lived in what is now called Nevada State did so largely in peace for thousands of years before the first European explorers set foot in the area. Some of the indigenous peoples rejected this unwanted intrusion, but some of the Native Indians welcomed the inventions that these aliens brought with them. Things such as livestock, transport, weapons and new methods to do things grabbed their attention and would make their hard life more bearable.
The European settlers brought with them means of transport that would change the Native Indian’s life in Nevada considerably. The settlers introduced the wheel to them and how to use the horse as a beast of burden. The relationship between the Native American Indians and the horse is well documented, and these indigenous people became the best light cavalry that the world has ever seen.
The Negative Impact of the New Settlers
Those indigenous American Indians that rejected the advances of the European invaders had good reason to be nervous of their intentions. The Old Continent settlers were not there just to simply trade, they wanted to expand their empires and take from the land. A big problem to the Nevada Indians were the new epidemic diseases that the Europeans brought with them. The indigenous peoples were now facing diseases that they had no resistance to, such as cholera, measles, tuberculosis, smallpox and influenza.
The Native Indians that lived in Nevada at the time had no prior need to develop immunities against such strange illnesses and therefore suffered badly. The Nevada Tribes took heavy losses to their populations and also had to suffer enforced labor, enslavement and even taxes.
1862 Homestead Act
The biggest impact into the lives of the Native Americans who lived all over the continent and not just Nevada was the passing of the Homestead Act by the U.S. Congress. This Act effectively allowed European settlers the right to live in the Great Plains. Obviously, the Native Indians battled hard to keep the land that they lived on, but history tells us who eventually won the overall war. It was not until 1979 that these deposed peoples were finally recognized by American law, and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed.