Washoe - Settlements

Aboriginal Washoe settlements were generally placed on elevated ground near sources of water. Domiciles tended to be widely spaced for privacy and reduced visibility from afar. Permanent year-round settlements were maintained in Traditionally established locations in the six or seven major lowland valleys along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Housing sites, or even entire settlements, might be moved about within these areas upon the death of family members, changing relations between households, or other conditions. During seasonal hunting and gathering activities, small groups set up temporary camps in the mountains or while trekking to distant locations in search of desired resources, returning to their permanent settlements for the Winter months. This pattern of mobility and option was terminated by White usurpation in the 1850s. Today, the Washoe continue to live mainly in the small colonies established in the early twentieth century, though many live and work in local towns or in other areas. The traditional winter house was most common in permanent settlements and was a conical construction of bark slabs supported by interlocked poles set over a shallow depression in the ground with an entrance facing eastward. Dome-shaped summer houses of willow frame thatched with tule and brush were used as well as the simple lean-to for shade or for temporary shelter on seasonal treks. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, versions of these structures were made of discarded Materials from White settlements. Standard colony housing up to the 1960s involved rows of dilapidated board shacks surrounded by the accumulated rubble of attempted repair and scavenged materials. Owing to the advancements of the past twenty or thirty years, the quality of Washoe housing today exceeds that of most low-income residences in the area.

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