Indian Tribes of Southern Idaho
Southern Idaho and Northern Nevada are homelands for three major American Indian tribes. Before contact with Europeans, one Indian group called themselves the Newe, which means “The People”. Today this large group is known as the Shoshone. Another Indian group called themselves the Numa, who are known today as the Paiute, and the third group in this region is called the Bannock. Each of these Indian tribal groups traveled throughout different, yet overlapping regions.
Wilson Butte Cave and other prehistoric sites show that people have lived in southern Idaho for at least 11,000 years. Are the tribes that live here today descended from the earliest people in Idaho?
Archaeologists can’t be certain. Native Americans relied on an oral tradition and did not keep a written record of their history. Also, scientists cannot directly link the most ancient artifacts found at Idaho’s prehistoric sites, dated to 11,000 years ago, to American Indian cultures that used the same sites much later in time. Modern-day scholars also know that the boundaries of tribal territories shifted through time, depending on tribal relationships, available foods and climatic conditions.
Native Americans, however, are absolutely sure about their relationship to the earliest people. Their legends, which are passed down from generation to generation through stories and song, reflect a deep and profound connection to ancient times and people. The oral traditions of the Shoshone, Paiute and Bannock place themselves here “since time immemorial”.