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The History of the Native Americans of Nevada – Part 1

Who are the Native Americans of Nevada? To understand this question, we have to figure out how the first peoples came to America. Late in the last Ice Age there was an exodus of humans that crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Asia into Alaska. And a couple of hundred years later their descendants started to explore the west coast of North America.

It is thought that as early as 1,000BC the whole North American continent was covered by these new immigrants who now called North America their home. The immigrants who decided to settle around Nevada developed their own lifestyle and ways of living to suit their environment.

The First Nevada Native Americans

The first settlers in Nevada are what are now called Native American Indians, and their life was closely linked to that of other Stone Age peoples in the world at that time. They used stone weapons and tools, and the one of the famous natural cavalry riders America has ever seen had not yet even met a horse at the time.

We can distinguish the Native American tribes who finally settled in the land that is now called Nevada as the:

  • Ute
  • Koso
  • Walapi
  • Panamint
  • Shoshoni
  • Washoe
  • Paiute

The Tribes and Their Distinction

The Paiute were originally hunters and seed gatherers that came from the Great Basin Native Indians. Although they were mainly based in Nevada they also lived in California and Arizona. Their dedicated lands were around the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, but they were also a nomadic tribe. The Shoshone were also hunter gatherers and were one of the first major tribes who adopted the horse as a major part of their lifestyle. With the adoption of the horse many of the tribe split from the original group and headed for the plains of Nevada.

The Ute tribe were also part of the main group of nomadic hunter gatherers who lived in the Great Basin. The Ute were fiercely protective of the lands that they lived in and resisted all encroachments by the white man into their territory. Interestingly the language that the Ute’s spoke was a version of Uto-Aztec.

The Great Basin Native Americans

All the tribes that settled in areas around Nevada came from the original Native Americans that came from the Great Basin. The climate was difficult to survive as it had very hot summers but bitterly cold winters. Survival was all about working hard for food, and certainly these Native Americans had a really hard life. Most of what they ate was nuts, seeds, berries and roots, along with some fish and small animals. Their clothing was also basic being made from rabbit or other small creature’s fur tied with sagebrush. Their weapons had developed from those of their ancestors and included bows and arrows, stone knives and spears. In part two of our blog we look into more details of the American Indians of Nevada.

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