Anthropology 132 Native People of North America Discussion 5 Respond to 2 classmates

Native People of North America

Mark Q. Sutton
An Introduction to Native North America, 4 ed.
Pearson, 201

You need to write your respond to two classmate’s answers. In your responds you need to add information from Research to support ideas when needed. Add list of References.
The question that teacher gave to us:
Discuss the lack of importance of warfare and the emphasis on trade and how they are related in the Great Basin. How did California groups, such as the Chumash, differ in their trade and market system?

First – Write your reaction to Philip opinion about the discussion.
Philip wrote his answer to this question: “Discuss the lack of importance of warfare and the emphasis on trade and how they are related in the Great Basin.
The Great Basin Indians were comprised of the Northern Shosone who resided in what is now Idaho, the Eastern Shosone in what is now neighboring Wyoming, and the Western Shosone tribal lands are now Nevada and Utah. The Southern Paiute and Ute occupied what is now Utah and Colorado (Sutton, chpt. 10 map). The question posed suggests the lack of importance of warfare among native tribes in the Great Basin, and their emphasis on trading, however, Sutton appears to suggest that the opposite was the case for Great Basin Indians as among different Shosone tribes (Sutton, 155-157). Instead, it was the Chumash tribes who were more peaceful and involved in extensive trade due to their resource rich environments (Sutton, 199).
There appears to be significant disagreement among researchers whether warfare was relatively unimportant in the Great Basin, with evidence indicating warfare existed against non-Basin natives of the northern Plains groups after Northern and Eastern Shoshone tribes acquired horses in the early 1700s and raided neighboring tribes until around 1850 (Sutton, 160). In fact, it was the Utes who stole horses from Euro-Americans and “traded them to the Northern Shoshone, who then introduced them onto the northern Plains in the late seventeenth century” (Sutton, 155). This pattern of warfare among Basin Indians was punctuated by the defeat of an American militia sent from Reno during the Pyramid Lake War in 1859 that forced the U.S. government to agree to an armistice (Sutton, 156). A few decades later, tribes from the Northern Paiute and Northern Shoshone revolted and raided white settlements and military installations, and consequently, the U.S. Army fought the natives into submission in the Bannock War of 1878 (Sutton, 157). The Eastern Shoshones maintained militaristic societies that specialized in warfare, more so than among other Shoshone groups as a direct result of diffusion from Plains nations and due to increased competition for natural resources and the threat from neighbors (Bonvillain, 293). The Shoshone were dogged fighters and pledged their lives in taking risky tactics to hold on to their territories, often using ambushes in horseback raids against enemy villages (Bonvillain, 293).
In regards to the general lack of trade, the economic base of the Shoshone was ruined by Euro-American trappers and traders who operated in their region and depleted the beaver and buffalo populations that resulted in the depletion of these animals from their territories before the mid-1800s along with increased usurping of their lands that threatened their survival (Bonvillain, 297-298). Due to their eventual lack of resources and items of trade, the Shoshone decided to help the U.S. Army to search and destroy Plains Indians, such as the Lakotas and Cheyennes who were their mortal enemies (Bonvillain, 300). During the last decades of the 1800s, the Northern Shoshones suffered great economic challenges as their land and resources were taken by the U.S. government (Bonvillain, 300), leading to the observation in a 1894 U.S. Census report that stated, “The material conditions of the Shoshones is easily summed up: they are as poor as they can be and live” (Bonvillain, 300). During the period between 1846 and 1906, the U.S. government signed 39 treaties with Great Basin tribes with guarantees of peace, friendship, territory, reservations, access to natural resources, and money, but these often turned out to be broken promises (Sutton, 157-158). As a result, Basin Indians no longer had their traditional foods and most had to work for white settlers, but due to low pay, many had to beg and steal food for survival (Bonvillain, 293).

How did California groups, such as the Chumash, differ in their trade and market system?
The Chumash occupied what is now San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, settling mostly along the coastal areas, and included the islands of Santa Cruz and others in that group (Sutton, chpt. 8 map). In contrast to Basin Indians, the Chumash took part in a vibrant free market system that utilized money in trade due to abundant natural resources including many types of fish, seals, shell fish, deer, rabbit and many plants (Sutton, 199). There was substantial intergroup trade between the three geographic Chumash areas that included the interior, coastal and island villages due to their unique diversity of natural resources and fine basketry among other cultural items (SB Museum).
The Santa Cruz Island Chumash decorated small sea shell disks strung together as a form of currency called ponco that was used in trade throughout the Chumash and most southern California tribes. In order to obtain deer hides, antlers and rabbit skins used to make clothing and blankets, they also traded blades and knives to mainland tribes. Adept at ocean canoeing, the island Chumash extended their range of trade between the different coastal islands, as island villages traded for seeds, acorn, pine nuts and wild cherry in exchange for fish, sea lion meat and sea otter skins with the mainland tribes (Rain).
A healthy economic base did not shield the Chumash from warfare over time, as archeological evidence indicate some deaths from wounds, including projectile points, clubs, axes, and non-lethal head wounds including healed fractures (Fagan). Fighting usually related to times of intergroup rivalries to repel invaders in competition for resources during occasional resource shortfalls, particularly during times of extreme drought as evidence when in 1775, “a Spanish party encountered ‘some Indians… returning from these towns to their own villages. They had been fighting and were carrying one or more scalps . . . One of their number had been wounded’” (Fagan). The Chumash were the groups that were less warlike than the Basin tribes due to their usual abundance of resources used in trade, as compared to the depleted subsistence experienced by the Shoshone nations caused by Euro-American traders, settlers and the U.S. government. In conclusion, it appears the coastal tribes were prolific traders and generally peaceful, while the bleaker environment presented the Basin Indians more cause to engage in raids and warfare against competing tribes.

Bonvillain, Nancy. Native Nations: Cultures and Histories of Native North America. Chapter 12: The Shoshones. New Jersey, Prentice Hall (.pdf file retrieved on 11/17/13 from
Fagan, Brian. “Time Detectives.” THE CHUMASH. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995 (pages 75-92). Retrieved on 11/17/13 from Native Americans – Chumash Traders. Retrieved on 11/18/13 from
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Welcome to Chumash Indian Life. Retrieved on 11/17/13 from
Sutton, Mark Q. 2008. An Introduction to Native North America. 3rd Ed. Boston, Pearson. (including maps from Chapters 8 and 10 retrieved on 11/17/13 from

Your respond:

Second write your respond to Cooks opinion about the discussion.
Cook wrote: “The lack of importance of warfare and the emphasis on trade and how they are related in the Great Basin are remarkably little conflict ensued from disruptions to native cultures, as most groups were too small and poorly armed to put up an effective resistance. A number of “battles” were fought in which parties of whites attacked and massacred helpers an unarmed Indians. Trade and warfare operated hand-in-hand as slave trade in Indian captives played a central economic role in interracial relations. To maintain trade and survive economically tribes became emeshed in a continuing slave trade that continued well into the 19th century. This brought bitter intertribal warfare to the region and pitied the larger and better supplied Utes and Shoshones against their nonrequestrian neighbors. The California groups, such as the Chumash, differ in their trade and market system by generally being peaceful and only rarely practiced warfare. Hostilities were limited mostly to internal conflict between confederations and did not usually involved neighboring groups. Chumush were accomplished traders, and had a monterery system based on beads and seashells. They trade herbs, baskets, tools and others artifacts with other tribes and band in the spirit of sharing as opposed to one of profiteering.

An Introduction to Native American by Mark Q. Sutton

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