Northern Shoshone and Bannock - Orientation

Identification. The Northern Shoshone (Nimi, Wihinaitti) and Bannock (Banakwut, Nimi, Pan'akwati, Pannaitti) lived in an area roughly within the present boundaries of the state of Idaho, south of the Salmon River, but at times extending slightly into northern Utah. The names do not describe discrete sociopolitical groups, but serve to separate the Shoshonean-speaking groups in this area from those in Western Wyoming (Eastern Shoshone) and those in Nevada and Utah (Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute). The Northern Shoshone are distinguished from the Western Shoshone mainly in having had many horses in late aboriginal times, and from the Eastern Shoshone in having had an economy based more on salmon fishing than on bison hunting. The Bannock are distinct from the Northern Shoshone in being Northern Paiute speakers. But they lived with the Northern Shoshone in Idaho for a long period and are similar to them culturally, having adopted the horse and participated with them in organized bison hunts. There are, however, no really clear cultural boundaries between all of these groups. The Northern Shoshone have been divided into six local groupings that are not political divisions. The subgroups are Agaideka (Agaidüka), "Salmon Eaters"; Kammedeka (Kamadüka), "Eaters of Jackrabbits"; Lemhi, Pohogwe (Bohogue, Fort Hall Shoshone, and Bannock), "People of Sagebrush Butte"; Tukudeka, (Tukadüka), "Eaters of Mountain Sheep"; and Yahandeka (Yahandüka), "Eaters of Groundhogs." Most of them are included among the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho.

Location. The area they live in belongs to the Columbia Plateau physiographic region, having a generally low precipitation of less than fifteen inches a year. There are two major mountain ranges, the Sawtooth and the Bitterroot, plus the Snake River plains, which provided ecological diversity.

Demography. There were 2,542 Indians living on the Reservation in 1980, with many more living in the area. It is estimated that there were about 3,900 in 1984.

Linguistic Affiliation. Both the Northern Shoshone and Bannock languages are members of the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Bannock speak a dialect of Northern Paiute, a Western Numic language; the Northern Shoshone speak a Central Numic dialect related to Eastern Shoshone, Western Shoshone, and Comanche. There is considerable Northern Shoshone-Bannock bilingualism.

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