Topic: Paiute

Mattie, the Daughter of Chief Shenkah

Chief Shenka was a Paiute Indian like the first Chief Winnemucca, whom the white men, who early traveled over the Rocky Mountains, met on the broad prairie land of Nevada. He was one of Winnemucca’s young followers. Of noble appearance and always brave and trustworthy, Shenkah became the chief of a small tribe of the Paiute, after Winnemucca’s death. When the Piute were at peace with other Indians and with the white people, Shenkah was very friendly indeed, especially to the soldiers, and our officers were much pleased when they could, on marches in search of lakes and rivers round their camps and posts, get Shenkah for a guide. He hunted deer and other game for them and they gave him a rifle and trusted him to make long journeys into the mountains. He always returned, and never without different kinds of wild game. After his old chief went far away to California with General Fremont, trouble arose on account of a sad mistake which resulted in a dreadful war between some of the Soldiers and the Indians. Chief Shenkah, leading his warriors, was in that war from the beginning to the end, until, at last, a good peace came. His daughter, Mattie, when about twenty years of age, told me about her father. Mattie could read and write English slowly, and spoke it well enough for me to...

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Winnemucca, Chief of the Paiute

Like the great Montezuma of old Mexico, Chief Winnemucca, who was born and lived the most of his life beside Pyramid Lake, Nevada, had a thinking mind and a large, warm heart. He was chief of an Indian nation called the Paiute and before any white men came over the Rocky Mountains to disturb them, there were several thousand Indians, to whom he was like a father. He saw to it that they had plenty of good food to eat, nice furs and skins to wear, and handsome tepees (or wigwams) for their families to live in. He had a good wife and many children of his own; he was always very kind to them, and took much pains to teach all he himself knew to his eldest son, who was to be Chief Winnemucca after him. Seventy years ago the Piute were a peace loving and contented people. They knew how to gather in the swift antelopes from the plains, how to catch the deer and ensnare the wild turkeys, and help themselves to all the game of the mountains round about their broad valley and clear lake in which they caught splendid speckled trout and other choice fish. The Piute never appeared to be as shrewd and smart as the Snake Indians, and they were not warlike; yet with their bows and arrows they did drive off...

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Toc-me-to-ne, an Indian Princess

We called her Sarah Winnemucca, but her real name was Toe-me-to-ne, which means shell-flower. Have you ever seen these flowers growing in an old garden among their many cousins of the Mint family? Well, Toe-me-to-ne loved them of all flowers best, for was she not herself a shell-flower. Her people were Paiute Indians, and they lived in every part of what is now the great State of Nevada. Toc-me-to-ne had a flower name, so she was allowed to take part in the children’s flower festival, when. all the little girls dance and sing, holding hands and making believe that they are the very flowers for which they are named. They wear their own flowers, too, and after they have sung together for a while one will dance off on the grass by herself while all the boys and girls look on and she sings I am a daisy gold and white, Somebody catch me-me! The grown-up people watch, too, as their children play, and Toe-me-to-ne was never happier than when, light as a bird, she danced and sang her shell-flower song: See me! see me, a beautiful flower. Give me a hand and dance. Then after the plays and dancing the children had all sorts of good things to eat, and the flower festival was over for a year. Only three times did Toe-me-to-ne take part in the flower...

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Chief Egan of the Malheurs

The Indians pronounced the name of Egan, Ehegante; but the soldiers and the white men living near the Indians’ reservation, situated in eastern Oregon, called him Egan. Egan was born a Umatilla. His father and mother were both from the Cayuse tribe who lived in the valley of the beautiful Umatilla River. That river flows from the springs and creeks of the lofty Blue Hills of Oregon, and with a length of about forty miles coursing westward, enters the Columbia River, not far south of the old Fort Walla Walla, where is now the little village of Wallula. When very small, Egan’s father and mother, with several other Cayuses, were away from home out on a meadow gathering wild onions and other kinds of nature’s food. They had in their camp of tepees men, women, and children. Suddenly a wild war party of Indians from the Snake country came upon them and a fierce battle occurred. All the Cayuses in the camp were killed except the children. These children were carried off and scattered among the Snakes and the Paiute. Little Egan was left with and brought up by a good Piute family. When he was old enough, he became famous among the young Indian hunters. He was above the medium height, very handsome, strong, and athletic; could lead any party in fishing the streams, climbing the mountains or...

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Northern Paiute Indians

Northern Paiute. The Northern Paiute were not properly a tribe, the name being used for a dialectic division as indicated above. They covered western Nevada, southeastern Oregon, and a strip of California east of the Sierra Nevada as far south as Owens Lake except for territory occupied by the Washo. According to the students of the area, they were pushed out of Powder River Valley and the upper course of John Day River in the nineteenth century by Shahaptian tribes and the Cayuse.

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Digger Indians

Digger Tribe. Said by Powell to be the English translation of Nuanuints, the name of a small tribe near St George, southwest Utah. It was the only Paiute tribe practicing agriculture, hence the original signification of the name, ‘digger.” In time the name was applied to every tribe known to use roots extensively for food and hence to be “diggers.” It thus included very many of the tribes of California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, tribes speaking widely different languages and embracing perhaps a dozen distinct linguistic stocks. As the root-eaters were supposed to represent a low type of Indian, the term speedily became one of...

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Chemehuevi Tribe

Chemehuevi Indians. A Shoshonean tribe, apparently an offshoot of the Paiute, formerly inhabiting the east bank of the Rio Colorado from Bill Williams fork to the Needles and extending westward as far as Providence Mountains, California, their chief seat being Chemehuevi valley, which stretches for 5 miles along the Colorado and nearly as far on either side. When or how they acquired possession of what appears to have been Yuman territory is not known. They may possibly have been seen by Alarcon, who navigated the Rio Colorado in 1540; but if so, they are not mentioned by name. Probably the first reference to the Chemehuevi is by Fray Francisco Garcés, who passed through their country in journeying from the Yuma to the Mohave, and again from lower Kern River to the latter tribe on his way to the pueblo of Oraibi in north east Arizona in 1775-76. Among the  Indians whom Garcés saw, or of whom heard, are the Chelemegué, Chemegué, Cuajála, Chemegué, Sevinta, and Chemeguaba, the first and last mentioned being apparently the Chemehuevi, while the others are the Virgin River Paiute and Shivwits, respectively, “Chemegué” here being used somewhat in the sense  of denoting Shoshonean affinity. In passing down the Colorado from the Mohave rancherias Garcés does not mention any Chemehuevi or other Indians in Chemehuevi valley or elsewhere on the  river until the Yuman Alchedoma (“Jalchedunes”),...

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Paiute Tribe

Paiute Indians. A term involved in great confusion. In common usage it has been applied at one time or another to most of the Shoshonean tribes of west Utah, northern Arizona, southern Idaho, eastern Oregon, Nevada, and eastern and southern California. The generally accepted idea is that the term originated from the word pah, ‘water,’ and Ute, hence ‘water Ute’ ; or from pai, ‘true,’ and Ute – ‘true Ute’; but neither of these interpretations is satisfactory. Powell states that the name properly belongs exclusively to the Corn Creek tribe of south west Utah, but has been extended to include many other tribes. In the present case the term is employed as a convenient divisional name for the tribes occupying south west Utah from about the locality of Beaver, the south west part of Nevada, and the north west part of Arizona, excluding the Chemehuevi. With regard to the Indians of Walker River and Pyramid Lake reservations, who constitute the main body of those commonly known as Paiute, Powell claims that they are not Paiute at all, but another tribe which he calls Paviotso. He says: “The names by which the tribes are known to white men and the department give no clue to the relationship of the Indians. For example, the Indians in the vicinity of the reservation on the Muddy and the Indians on the Walker River...

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Condition of the Idaho Indians in 1890

Early the summer of 1877 troubles arose in regard to the occupancy of the Wallowa valley by white settlers, it having been withdrawn in 1875 as a reservation under treaty of 1873, because of the failure, of the Indians to permanently occupy it. An Indian belonging to a band of non-treaty Indians under Chief Joseph was killed by some settlers; then the Indians insisted upon the removal of the settlers and the restitution of the valley to them. Upon the refusal of the government to do this, and after further efforts to compel all the non-treaty Indians to come...

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