Western Shoshone - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Subsistence adaptations were extremely complex, varying according to the local subsistence base. The collecting of plants was the Subsistence mainstay, with edible greens being gathered in the lowlands in early spring; later in the year berries and seeds were collected and cached in various localities for use during the remainder of the year. Piñon nuts were the mainstay in certain areas in the low foothills. Groves in the Reese River valley were owned by individual families, a unique occurrence among these groups. Winter villages were often located near large caches of nuts. In the Death Valley area, mesquite pods were relied upon heavily with several cactus species, agave, and gourds also being collected. Hunting was important, although not basic to the economy. Among large game, bighorn sheep were of primary importance, generally being killed from ambush in particularly advantageous locales, although communal hunts sometimes occurred. On the other hand, communal antelope drives were the rule in the Gosiute area, and such drives also occurred elsewhere. Antelope were sometimes individually stalked. Deer were also hunted, although they were much scarcer than sheep and antelope. There were occasional communal hunts, but individual hunts were much more usual. The fall rabbit hunt was an important source of food and fur, the jackrabbits and other types being driven into nets of grass twine. Snares and deadfalls were used for cottontail rabbits. Pocket gophers and ground squirrels were flooded or smoked out of their burrows or hooked out by means of skewers, with traps and deadfalls also being used. Fishing was very restricted, being possible in only a few localities. They hunted waterfowl, dove, sage hens and quail, and other birds when they were available. Other foods used included black crickets, bee eggs and larvae, and grasshoppers. Dogs were kept and were sometimes used in hunting. There were usually no other domestic animals, although horses were owned by some families.

Industrial Arts. Clothing was scarce. Most common was a sewn or woven fur robe, usually of rabbit skin, but sometimes of sheep, deer, or antelope hide. Hide clothing, skirts, and breechclouts, as well as clothing of grass or bark, were wide-spread. Various types of moccasins were used. Basketry was important; coiled and twined baskets, seed beaters, trays, and conical carrying baskets were common, as were the sinewbacked bow of juniper (sometimes of mountain mahogany) and horn glue. Quivers were made of wildcat skins. Low-quality pottery of local clays were made, sometimes sparsely decorated with surface impressions.

Division of Labor. Hunting was the primary occupation of the men, and women did most of the gathering. Women made the pottery. Men usually built the dwellings, with women helping in some groups. Both men and women could make clothing, and women usually did whatever weaving was possible.

Land Tenure. There is no information, although Individual families did own piñon groves in the Reese River valley.

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Mike Johnson
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Nov 29, 2017 @ 10:10 am
Did they have currency? If they did what was it? Or were they one of those cultures that used anything as currency and would trade anything for anything?

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