July 11, 2012

Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe


The Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe is a federally recognized tribe of Mono Paiute and Timbisha Shoshone located near Lone Pine in Inyo County, California.

Official Tribal Name: Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe

Address: PO Box 747,975 Teya Road,Lone Pine, CA 93545
Phone: 760-876-1034
Fax: 760-876-8302

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Numa (Shoshone) meaning “the people.”
The Mono referred to themselves as Nyyhmy which means “person.”

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:

The term “Shoshone” is a relatively modern one that was coined about the year 1700 by the Shoshone or, then, Numa people themselves, when they first acquired horses. It literally means “men who ride.”

The name Paiute may mean water Ute or true Ute. 

Alternate names / Alternate Spellings / Mispellings:

Formerly known as the Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Community of the Lone Pine Reservation.

The slang term for foragers, “diggers,” apparently arose from the plains sign language name for any of the Great Basin tribes, which was expressed with a “digging with a stick” motion, first demonstrated by the Crow tribe to Lewis and Clark. This was later used by white Americans as a derogatory term, and was particularly applied to California tribes as a racial slur. 

The Timbisha Shoshone were also known as the Panamint Shoshone or Koso.

Timbisha means “red rock face paint.” It is also the name of the language dialect of the Shoshone people who have inhabited the region in and around Death Valley, California and the southern Owens Valley since late prehistoric times. 

Alternate spelling: Piute

Name in other languages:

Neighboring tribes called the Shoshone the Snakes, and the plains hand sign for the Shoshone was making a slithering motion with the hand and arm.

The tribe’s western neighbors, the Yokuts, called the Mono Paiute monachie meaning “fly people” because fly larvae was their chief food staple and trading article. Anthropologists later shortened this to Mono when naming the language dialect they spoke.

Region: Although the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe is located in California, they retained the culture of the  Great Basin tribes.

State(s) Today: California

Traditional Territory:


Evidence indicates Aztec-Tanoans were probably a component of the hunter/gatherer Cochise Culture of southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and northern Mexico. This culture began about 10,000 years ago, and lasted to about 500 B.C. But since this period began about the time of the end of the last Ice Age, flora and fauna were becoming sparse and even extinct and many tribes, including the Uto-Aztecan ancestors of the Shoshone, apparently split about that time from this Cochise Culture.

Archeological evidence indicates that the Uto-Aztecans eventually appeared along the vast shores of huge Lake Lahontan which covered most of northern Nevada and reached into neighboring states. Lake Lahontan began to dry up between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago due to an altithermal which caused a global warming, and another fissioning happened to the culture. Only the Numic ancestors of the Shoshone remained in the general region.

Those who left would become the Aztecs, Hopi, Pima, Serrano, Cahuilla, and numerous other tribes of the southwest and Mexico.

About 3,000 years ago, there would be another division among the Numics with the Western Shoshone being a component of the Central Numic language along with what would become the Comanche, Koso, and Northern Shoshone.

Linguistic evidence indicates that the Panamint, the ancestors of the Timbisha Shoshone, arrived in Death Valley within the last millennium, though there are many claims that they arrived earlier.

Confederacy: Paiute, Shoshone


Congress ratified the Treaty of Ruby Valley in 1866. The treaty was a statement of peace and friendship between the United States and the Western Shoshone. But, it also granted the United States rights-of-way across Western Shoshone territories.

Reservation: Lone Pine Reservation in Inyo County, in central-eastern California, in the Owens River Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Land Area:237.4 acres (0.96 km2)
Tribal Headquarters: Lone Pine, California
Time Zone: Pacific

Population at Contact:

It is impossible to know exactly what the population of the Panamint Shoshone was in 1849, but one would expect it to have been in the range of 150 or so persons living in four small winter villages on the floor of Death Valley. Their population was estimated at less than 100 in 1891.

Kroeber suggested that the 1770 population of the Mono, collectively in all Mono tribes combined, was 4,000 and the 1770 population of the Northern Paiute within California was 500. Sherburne F. Cook set the population of the Western Mono alone at about 1,800. Kroeber reported the population of the Mono in 1910 as 1,500.

Registered Population Today: Approximately 1,400 enrolled members as of 2000.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Name of Governing Body: Tribal Council
Number of Council members: 5 including executive officers
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee


Language Classification:

Uto-Aztecans => Aztec-Tanoan => Numic => Central Numic => Timbisha
Uto-Aztecans => Aztec-Tanoan => Numic => Western Numic => Mono

Language Dialects:

Timbisha is a dialect chain with main regional varieties being Western,Central, and Eastern. Timbisha Shoshone is the Central dialect.

Mono has two main dialects, which are referred to as Eastern or Western. Mono Paiute is the Western dialect.

Number of fluent Speakers:



Shoshones believe that they descended from a tribe which lived in Yellowstone they call the Sheepeaters. Legend has it that the Sheepeaters made bows of bighorn sheep horns cooked in the hot springs of Yellowstone and then pounded into shape.

Western Shoshone, Southern Paiute, and Kawaiisu rock art can be found as far west as Black Canyon, 35 mile northwest of Barstow and Inscription Canyon, 42 miles northwest of Barstow. These petroglyphs depict bighorn sheep and fantastic animistic deities and rites. Petroglyphs attributed to Western Shoshone, Southern Paiute, and Vanyume can be found at Surprise Tanks, about 20 miles east of Barstow. These petroglyphs depict rattlesnakes, other animals, a large bee, a plant, and other fantastic images.

Big Horn Sheep were not commonly found prehistorically in the Barstow region. They were common in the mountains around Death Valley, however, as well as San Jacinto Range far to the south and mountains as far to the east as the Rockies. Interestingly, bighorn sheep were not an important food source of the Western Shoshone. However, at least half of the petroglyphs attributed to the Western Shoshone are of the sheep.

Bands, Gens, and Clans

Related Tribes:

The Mono are divided into the Eastern Mono and the Western Mono, roughly based on the Sierra crest. The Eastern Mono are also known as the Owens Valley Paiute.The Western Mono traditionally lived in the south-central Sierra Nevada foothills.

Eastern Mono (Owens Valley Paiute)

    • Big Pine Paiute Tribe of Owens Valley
    • Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community of the Bishop Colony
    • Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Community of the Lone Pine Reservation

Western Mono (Monache or Mono Lake Paiute)

      • Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
      • Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
      • Table Mountain Rancheria of California
      • Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation

Traditional Allies:

Traditional Enemies:

All of the tribes of the Mojave Desert were peaceful and friendly except for the Mojave and Yuma of the Colorado River.

Ceremonies / Dances:

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Paiute Legends / Oral Stories

Shoshone Legends / Oral Stories

Art & Crafts:

Both the Timbisha and the Mono are best known for their fine basketry. 





Economy Today:

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs



Famous (Timbisha) Shoshone Chiefs and Leaders

Famous (Mono) Paiute Chiefs and Leaders

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

Though California has been inhabited by Whites since 1769, prehistory for the Panamint Shoshone did not end until 1849 when gold rush settlers first entered Death Valley. From that point until this day, the Panamint Shoshone, later called the Timbisha Shoshone, would be among, if not the, most oppressed people in the United States.

Throughout California, Indians who lived anywhere there was a possibility of gold or other riches were fair game. California’s rush of American settlers continued the Indian genocide that had been begun by the Spanish and Mexicans. The exception was that Spanish and Mexican genocide had not reached the Shoshone. American genocide did.

Only one year later in 1850 during the California State Constitutional Convention, California’s first law was enacted.. It was the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. This act was essentially a slave act. Any White citizen could take any Indian child to any justice of the peace and state that he wanted to adopt the Indian child. The Indian child was immediately placed in the custody of that person.

Not only could Indians not testify in this hearing, none could speak English anyway. Likewise, any White could follow the same process with an Indian family and they would be immediately indentured to that person’s property. To leave was punishable by death at the hands of the property owner or others. This law was only enforced to the benefit of the White population. This law was finally repealed in 1863, but by then, this still turned most into virtual slaves of abusive employers for meager wages.

Squatters grabbed the nearby mountains in 1849 which the Timbisha Shoshone depended upon for food, especially their staple, pine nuts. Violent miners ran the Panamint from the water resources of the valley floor. Many of those who survived became slaves. Others foraged meager lives in the wilderness while still others perished. Indian/White violence reached its zenith in the 1860’s. 

By the time the federal government officially took the Panamint Shoshone primary ancestral lands with the creation of Death Valley National Monument in 1933, most of the men of the tribe were working in the mines or in construction.

The tribe had been living in three villages in Grapevine Canyon, Wildrose Canyon, and Furnace Creek. It would be three years before the Park Service would set aside 40 acres for the tribe. Twelve small adobe structures were built to house the 150 or so tribal members. These structures had no water, indoor plumbing, nor electricity.

Several of these homes were bulldozed by the Park Service when their Panamint Shoshone inhabitants left to spend time in the nearby mountains to escape 120+ degrees summer heat. In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, however, trailers and mobile homes were added to the small village and utilities were installed with funds provided by several federal agencies.

The Panamint Shoshone finally became a federally recognized tribe in 1983, naming their tribe the Timbisha Shoshone. But few of the benefits of being federally recognized were realized.

As a result of continued mistreatment by Park Service employees and feeling like they were being “corralled like cattle”, most of the Timbasha Shoshone removed from Death Valley and ventured north to Bishop, California to live as guests of their distant cousins the Northern Paiute on the Bishop Reservation. There many were able to find employment, some in the casino owned and operated by the Bishop Paiute.

In 1994, the Desert Land Protection Act directed instructed the Secretary of the Interior to work with the Timbasha Shoshone in finding a suitable reservation for the tribe. Nonetheless, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit, decided to throw the Tribe off the last remnant of its traditional homelands in Death Valley.

However, Mr. Babbit was unsuccessful, and in September, 1998 the tribe reached an agreement with the Department of the Interior to establish a Timbisha Shoshone reservation.

The Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act was ratified in November, 2000. A total of 7,700 acres were restored to the tribe as a reservation. But, the tribe was forced to waive certain rights to secure ratification of this act, rights related to economic viability such as rights to game, construction of a casino, and others.

As a result, the restored reservation was not an economically viable one, and was still in violation of the Desert Land Protections Act, except that it also provided that “… the Secretary of the Interior shall acquire additional lands for the tribe for the purpose of economic development.”

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Further Reading:

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