It’s a land of natural and cultural treasures. A land where pelicans splash around in the middle of the desert. Where antelopes are sometimes spotted racing alongside a car or a bighorn sheep sipping from a spring. Where sunsets and sunrises transform mountains into pillars of fire. And where fish swim in ancient lakes. Most importantly, a land where Native Americans celebrate their past while building a hopeful future. Nevada’s Indian Territory. Home to four major American Indian tribes—the Washoe, Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute and Western Shoshone—who all feel a deep connection to the environment and all its gifts. These tribes sustained their ethnic identity longer than in other areas because it took longer for Euro-Americans to settle there. You’re invited to explore Nevada’s Indian Territory. To immerse yourself in the culture and the majestic landscape. And to meet the strong and brave people whose ancestors were stewards of this land for...Read More
The Washoe: The Washoe have inhabited Nevada’s Great Basin for at least 9,000 years, and tribal lore says they have lived here since time began. Unlike other Nevada tribes whose native language is a form of Uto-Aztecan, the Washoe’s native tongue is a Hokan-type language. The word Tahoe is a mispronunciation of the Washoe word for “the lake” (Da ow). When the snows melted in spring, the Washoe gathered at Lake Tahoe’s edge (Da ow aga), where they blessed the water and themselves, a tradition continuing today. One of their most sacred cultural and spiritual sites is Cave Rock—known as De’ek wadapush (rock standing gray)—on the southwestern shore. The Washoe recognize the importance of preserving their traditional way of life while remaining an important part of modern society. They continue to hold traditional celebrations—such as rabbit drives—and like all Nevada’s tribes are teaching their youth to speak their native language. Signature Events Wa She Shu It Deh Wa She Shu It Deh, American Indian Arts Festival, is held at the Tallac Historic Site at South Lake Tahoe each summer. The festival began as an opportunity to promote the basketry of the Washoe Tribe and showcase their beautiful fancy basketry. It has since continued to grow and now features basketry demonstrations, music, fine art, photography, dance performances and storytelling. The American Indian Film Institute also presents American Indian films throughout the festival. Stewart Father’s Day Powwow This annual powwow draws a number of quality American Indian arts and crafts vendors, and is also a time for alumni, former employees and their families and friends to gather at the former campus. Additionally, this fundraising event is...Read More
Northern Paiute: Deeply grounded in their environment, the Northern Paiutes believe that power (pooha) resides in natural objects such as animals, plants and geographical features. This strong connection to the environment is evident in the names of different bands. For example, Pyramid Lake Paiutes are called Kuyuidokado (Cui-ui eaters), after the Cui-ui fish, found nowhere else in the world. The Northern Paiute live in areas including Lovelock, McDermitt, Mason Valley, Smith Valley, Pyramid Lake, Reno-Sparks, Stillwater, Fallon, Summit Lake and Walker River. Unlike many Native Americans throughout the country, the Pyramid Lake Paiute and the Walker River Paiute never faced complete relocation. Their ancestors have lived there for millennia. The Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation is home to the only Scenic Byway in the country completely within a tribal reservation. The Northern Paiute all share the desire to make the present and the future better than their challenging past while teaching younger generations appreciation of their cultural and linguistic heritage. Signature Events Pine Nut Festival Every third weekend of September, several hundred American Indians and visitors gather at the Walker River Paiute Tribe reservation in Schurz to participate in a spiritual ceremony that celebrates life and the harvest. The festival’s many events include an Indian rodeo, powwow dance, stick games and pine nut dance. During the pine nut dance, dancers move on sacred ground in a circle around a staff with eagle feathers and tobacco offerings for what is called the pine nut blessing. The spiritual ceremony dates back more than one hundred years to a time when the pine nut was winter subsistence for Great Basin Indians. Today, the dance is a way to honor the...Read More
The Southern Paiute: Since at least 1100 A.D., the Southern Paiute lived in 15 bands across southeastern Nevada and neighboring states. To survive the desert environment, they drank from springs, hunted wild game and harvested plants. Two groups of federally recognized Southern Paiute bands live in Nevada: The Moapa Band and The Las Vegas Paiute Band. The Pahrump Band of Paiute also lives in the area. The native languages of the Southern Paiutes and Northern Paiutes are different but related. The Southern Paiutes operate the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort with three 18-hole courses—each rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest—and a restaurant with views of the Sheep Mountains. In addition, the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza with its 2,500-square-foot casino and fireworks store greets visitors on their way to Valley of Fire State Park. The Moapa Paiutes also are developing the first large-scale solar project on tribal land, which will provide tribal revenue and jobs. Signature Events Snow Mountain Powwow The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe celebrates American Indian culture with its Annual Snow Mountain Powwow. Dancers in colorful traditional dress, artisans and singers from across the United States and Canada gather at this three-day event. The powwow offers a unique shopping experience with jewelry, pottery, flutes, traditional Indian music and baskets available for purchase. Food items include fry bread served with honey and Indian tacos. Some of the best dancers in Indian Territory perform at this event. ...Read More
The Western Shoshone: Like the Paiutes, the Western Shoshone are grounded in the land and their bands are named for the type of food that traditionally was their predominant source of sustenance. In Ruby Valley, Nevada, the Shoshones are called the Mahaguadüka (Mentzelia seed eaters) or the Watatikka (ryegrass seed eaters) and in Railroad Valley they are known as the Tsaiduka (tule eaters). The Western Shoshone live in colonies and reservations throughout the state including Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, Fallon and on the Duckwater Indian Reservation. They are keenly aware of the importance of preserving the environment and all its fruits for future generations. For their efforts in restoring critical habitat of the Railroad Valley springfish and reintroducing this endangered fish, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe earned the 2010 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Program Recovery Champion Award. Signature Events Elko Te-Moak Powwow The Elko Te-Moak Powwow is held in October by the Te-Moak Bands of Western Shoshone. This event features American Indian drumming, singing, dancing, arts, crafts and games. Hundreds of Indians in colorful regalia dance in the streets of downtown Elko on the first day of this three-day celebration. In addition to open dances, contest dances for a particular style and age group are held and the top winners receive prizes. To compete in a contest, the dancer must be in an outfit appropriate for the competition. Spring Festival, Duckwater Each June, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe holds their “Spring Festival.” This event includes a barbecue, powwow, hand games, gambling, horseshoe tournaments and more. The powwow is a great opportunity for the tribe and visitors to get together to join in dancing, visiting, renewing old...Read More
Home to the Washoe, Northern Paiute, Western Shoshone, and Southern Paiute tribes
Thirty-two Indian Reservations and Colonies stretch across Nevada. These tribes are all unique, with traditions that span many generations. But like the intricate strands that form a beautiful basket, these tribes are one, and their culture is strong and tightly woven together.
Nevada’s Indian Territory offers a wide range of events. Most all events are open to the public, and provide a window to a colorful and rich culture.