The Great Basin Tribes

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The foragers in the Basin and the cultivators in the Southwest and the ways of survival both learned, reach back to a common base in the Desert Archaic Period (Garbarino, 1985: 203). These high-desert dwelling people perfected the art of foraging, creating a unique and successful society that persisted for thousands of years, having replaced the bands of primarily hunters that had come before them. Scientists have learned a great deal about how these people lived in these harsh surroundings through their careful study of the Great Basin region, turning the field into a laboratory to piece together the lives of these foragers, and how foraging developed as a way of life, from the remnants that have been left behind.The dominant tribes of the Great Basin have been identified as being primarily hunter-gatherers, foragers, who lived in this fashion for thousands of years, having probably replaced earlier tribes that subsisted primarily on hunting big game (Bettinger Baumhauf, 1982: 485). However, it is not believed that these people wandered throughout their territory or even took the area over by force. Each group roamed forever over a given territory around a recognized central site, picking a living – an immensely knowledgeable one – from the pastel deserts and the brilliant, flowery, barren desert mountains. They hunted and snared game large and small, from deer and antelope to grasshoppers and birds, gathered wild seeds and fruits, and made some use out of nearly every object within their horizon (Brandon, 2003: 395). The reason these peoples spread in the way they did is the subject of much study, but requires some basic knowledge of the people themselves.The tribes of the Great Basin are grouped not only by their geographic locations, but also by their language group, which is basically Shoshone.