30. Shoshone Summer Camp

Because they moved around during so much of the year, the Shoshone built rather temporary houses for summer occupation, while a more substantial house was made for the winter. Natural caves were also used as homes, when they were available. In their summer camps, the people raised shelters made with poles and covered with sagebrush to keep off the hot sun.


Pine nuts were gathered for winter sustenance in the early fall when each family tried to harvest enough to last them throughout the winter. A long hooked pole was used to pull down the pine cones. The pine nuts and other foods were stored in safe places, sometimes in small caves or niches in the rock, close to the winter settlement.


Seeds from many grasses and plants were gathered in the summer. The seeds were roasted to dry them out, and then ground into a flour which could be stored for later use. In the desert, mesquite pods were plentiful. The bean from the mesquite was pounded to make flour, from which flat cakes were baked. 


There were not a lot of fresh green plants available for the desert people, and those few that they could find (such as clover) had to be boiled and squeezed to get out the bitter salts from the desert soil. Some other plant foods for the Shoshone were several kinds of cactus, some gourds, and the agave plant. Buds from the yucca tree were roasted on an open fire and eaten. The prickly pear cactus could be dried in the sun, after the thorns were removed, and kept for the winter. 


Plant food was very important in their diet, as it was difficult for the Shoshone to get meat. Once in a while a hunter would bring down a mountain sheep or deer. Groups sometimes got together to hunt antelope, but the Shoshone had to travel quite a distance to be a part of these antelope drives. Small game such as rabbits, ground squirrels, gophers, rats, lizards, and a few kinds of birds (dove, mockingbird, sage hen, duck and quail) were more common fare for the Shoshone.  


Shoshone men and women wore clothing made from deer or rabbit skins, when the skins were available. Women used skins to make long skirts for winter, or bark and grass to make shorter skirts for summer. Men often wore just a strip of deerhide around their hips, or they went without any clothing. Even in winter, clothing was scanty. When needed for warmth, a robe made of animal fur was worn over the shoulders, or used as a blanket. Rabbitskin fur was most commonly used to make the robes.


Women wore woven caps to protect their heads from the straps of carrying baskets. The caps were made from strips of sage bark or willow. When the weather was cold or the trail was rough, both men and women wore moccasins on their feet. They made the moccasins from animal fur, or from twined sagebark stuffed with fur or grass. 


Hunting was done by means of traps made from poles and cord, as well as with bow and arrow. The bow was made of juniper wood, short, and sinew-backed. The bowstring was sinew (animal tendon) or wild hemp. The arrows were made of willow and hardwood. Hemp was used to make cord, which was then fashioned into nets. Nets were used for catching small game, and for carrying things.


Based on an article from https://factcards.califa.org/cai/californiashoshone.html