top of page

The Shoshone for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Mar 8

2

0

0

The Shoshone are an illustrative example of the Native American Societies before European Contact topic in Period 1 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



Shoshone Encampment
Shoshone Encampment 1870/public domain


The Shoshone have occupied vast expanses of the Great Basin, Rocky Mountains, and Intermountain West regions of North America for thousands of years. Living in what is now Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, and parts of California, Oregon, and Montana, the Shoshone organized themselves into individual family bands, each led by respected leaders. Leadership positions were often earned through acts of bravery, wisdom, and generosity, rather than inherited status. These bands were nomadic hunter-gatherers, relying on their deep knowledge of the land to sustain themselves through hunting, fishing, and gathering. Larger gatherings of Shoshone communities occurred for significant events such as big hunts and celebrations, fostering social cohesion and cultural exchange.


The Shoshone utilized various types of shelters to accommodate their nomadic lifestyle and adapt to the diverse environments of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. One common type of dwelling was the wikiup, a cone-shaped structure constructed from wooden poles covered with brush, reeds, or animal hides. These wikiups were portable and relatively easy to assemble and disassemble, making them suitable for the Shoshone’s semi-nomadic lifestyle. Another type of shelter used by the Shoshone was the lean-to, a simple structure consisting of a slanted roof supported by poles, with one side open to the elements. Additionally, during the warmer months, the Shoshone sometimes slept in temporary shelters known as wickiups, which were smaller versions of wikiups designed for quick assembly and disassembly. These shelters allowed the Shoshone to adapt to seasonal changes in weather. Some Shoshone also used teepees.


Religion played a central role in Shoshone culture, with beliefs rooted in animism and a profound reverence for nature. The Shoshone worshipped a variety of spirits, including those of animals, plants, and natural elements, attributing spiritual significance to the world around them. Rituals, ceremonies, and dances were performed to honor these spirits and maintain balance in the world. Shamans or spiritual leaders played important roles in Shoshone religious practices, acting as intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds, and providing guidance and healing to their communities.


Trade was integral to Shoshone life, with the exchange of goods facilitating diplomatic relations and access to resources. They traded a variety of items, including hides, pottery, and tools, with neighboring tribes such as the Ute, Paiute, and Bannock. The acquisition of horses from Spanish settlers in the 16th century transformed Shoshone society, enabling them to hunt buffalo more efficiently and expand their territories.


Within Shoshone society, warriors held esteemed positions, tasked with defending their people and territory. They engaged in acts of bravery, including counting coup, a practice where warriors demonstrated courage by touching their adversaries in battle without causing harm.


Sacagawea, one of the most famous Shoshone individuals, played a crucial role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806, serving as a guide and interpreter. Her participation highlights the resilience, adaptability, and contributions of the Shoshone people to the history and culture of North America.



Printable Reading Passage on the Shoshone


The Shoshone FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the Shoshone?





Native American Societies Before European Contact

Period 1

AP U.S. History


the Shoshone

#NativeAmerican #UnitedStates

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Mar 8

2

0

0

Comments
Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page