Shamanism And The Washo Tribe

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The Washo, or as they called themselves waju, occupied around 3,400 square miles falling in the west-central Nevada and east-central California near the area known as Lake Tahoe. Due to the terrain that the Washo inhabited, the Great Basin and the Sierra Cascades, they had to move from the western margin of the Great Basin in the fall and winter. In the spring and summer months they migrated to the wooded eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, (Siskin:1). There are three divisions of the Washo tribe which are split up by natural boundaries running east and west: the Northern Washo (welmelti), the Central Washo (pauwalu), and the Southern Washo (hangaleti). The Washo tribes are not an agricultural people, so they move in accordance with the seasonal food supply migrations, (Siskin: 1). They relied mostly on the two distinctive environments brought about by the arid deserts and lightly wooded areas near the mountains foraging piñon as their main source of food, (a tree’s nuts which where a stable for the tribe), and deer, mountain sheep, bear, rabbit, and antelope as a secondary source are hunted. Though the food supply was more sustainable for the Washo tribes, it was not unheard of for there to be food shortages; so as a result their population density was approximately sixteen people for every one-hundred kilometers, (Siskin:7). Tribal kinship was recognized by all of the Washo tribes; the differences between them were limited to slight cultural and dialectic variations. Linguistically the Washo did not affiliate closely with any other neighboring tribes. Their relationship with neighboring tribes were usually on good terms, involving trading with nearby neighbors such as the northern and southern Paiute and Miwok. Contact between these tribes through trading sometimes even resulted in cross tribal marriages. If warfare was provoked, usually through trespassing

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