Identification. The Western Shoshone, including the Gosiute of northwestern Utah, are a group of closely related peoples who live in the arid regions of the western Great Basin.
Location. Their territory stretched from northern Nevada and northwestern Utah, inhabited by the Gosiute, across the state of Nevada to the Death Valley region of southeastern California, inhabited by the Panamint. The area was very lightly inhabited by the Shoshone because of the stringent ecological conditions obtaining during historical times. Forty-three subgroups were named by Steward in his surveys. The names of these subgroups are generally geographical in origin, having been conferred by Europeans, but some are Shoshone names based on notable local food resources. The whole Region is arid and desert in character, with generally a very low annual rainfall, intermittent streams feeding into ponds and small lakes without outlets, scrub vegetation, and a varied to-pography.
Demography. Most Western Shoshone do not live on rancherías, although there are numerous small reserves, generally governed by local councils, in eastern California and Nevada. In the late nineteenth century, the population totaled about 2,400, and in 1980 the population was 2,923 according to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Shoshone all spoke dialects and varieties of Central Numic, a member of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Central Numic has three basic component languages, Panamint (spoken only by the Panamint in the southwestern part of the area), Comanche (spoken on the southern Great Plains), and Shoshone (spoken by all other Shoshone groups).