Western Shoshone - History and Cultural Relations

The Western Shoshone live in one of the last areas in the United States to be settled by Europeans and Americans, although the southern parts had been reached by Spanish explorers. Jedediah Smith and Peter Skene Ogden both mention encountering Shoshone in the late 1820s. Other explorers in the area in the first half of the nineteenth century included Zenas Leonard, John C. Frémont, James H. Simpson, and Howard R. Egan. A great cultural impact was made by the arrival of the Mormons after 1847, followed by the California and Carson River gold rushes in 1848 and 1849, and the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1857. Treaties by the U.S. government with various groups were signed in 1863 and began the process of gathering them on to Reservations, although nothing much was accomplished in this Respect until the late 1870s. Many small reservations were established shortly after the turn of the century and after the beginning of the "Indian New Deal" in 1935. In the 1930s, two competing councils were organized, one not recognized by the federal government, the other, the Te-Moak Bands Council, being sponsored by the government. In 1974, the United Western Shoshone Legal Defense and Education Association (now the Sacred Lands Association) was established. Shoshone title to their lands was finally extinguished with the awarding of $26 million by the Indian Claims Commission in 1979.

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