The Gender, Ethnicity and Religion among the Shoshone People

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TheGender, Ethnicity and Religion among the Shoshone People

The Shoshone people had a proper social and political system wherethey engaged in various activities to survive. For instance, they haddivided their tasks based on gender and the community strived to workas a team. This essay will illustrate a complex relationship betweengender, ethnicity, and religion too. More specifically, the womenwere known to engage in the farming activities, and the men were thehunters but, the environmental issues changed all that. The droughtmeant that the women could no longer farm, and they had to rely onthe men that went outside the reservations to hunt. TheEuro-Americans that were settling in the area started discriminatingthe Shoshone people because of their ethnicity. The group could notengage in farming or even the hunting activities, and they had torely on food rations. At times, they even forced them to convert toChristianity but, they refused. Hence, this essay presents thecomplex relationship between gender, ethnicity, and religion amongthe Shoshone people.

A look at the Shoshone tribe shows that their daily chores weredivided based on their genders. For instance, the women were expectedto make the baskets that were used for various purposes such ascollecting and storing food. In most cases, the same baskets weredurable and portable to allow the women in carrying food from onepoint to another (Oswalt, 2008). The women also had the role offarming since they often carried the digging sticks that they used inplanting crops. The women had the sticks to help them in harvestingof the edible roots and set traps to catch the lizards, rodents, andcrickets too. In most cases, the men were involved in the huntingescapades where they had to find enough food to supplement the mealsthat the crops that the women had harvested. In fact, the hunters anda group of male shaman engaged in the hunting escapades where theyhoped to catch antelopes, and they also made traps to catch morerabbits (Oswalt, 2008). The gender roles show that women engaged infarming and gathering activities while the Shoshone men wereresponsible for the hunting plans.

Stam illustrates how the climatic changes ended up causing moreproblems for the Shoshone group that was forced to migratenortheasterly. In fact, the climate changes disrupted the genderroles that each group undertook. For instance, the women were unableto engage in the gathering and the farming activities. Instead, theentire group largely relied on the men that were known for thehunting skills. They settled in the Wind River basin where they wereunder Chief Washakie and they suffered multiple attacks when they hadsettled in the region (Stamm, 1999). At times, they had to rely onfood rations, and that was a problem when they experienced any delay.For instance, the delay even pushed them into seeking other ways ofgetting food such as hunting. Unfortunately, the increasingEuro-American population had forced them into the reservation throughvarious legislations they had created (Stamm, 1999). Hence, theycould not engage in the hunting activities freely, and they had toask permission from the Euro-American government. On the other hand,Chief Washakie was under pressure since his population was starvingyet, the Euro-American forced them into working hard to get more foodrations. For instance, they wanted the Shoshone men to join thepolice force while Chief Washakie rejected such requests (Stamm,1999). In the end, his people suffered because of the starvation andthey had to rely on the hunters for enough food. However, the huntersdid not provide enough food and even forced the Shoshone people togive a part of their reservation land. The scenario shows howethnicity made the life of the Shoshone people since they lost theirpolitical control and they were forced to starve instead.

The Shoshone people were not given a chance and often coerced intodoing certain things. For instance, “Shoshone elders listened asBrown explained how the leader of his church and colony, BrighamYoung, desired to convert Shoshones to the Mormon faith and teachthem how to farm” (Hodge, 2016: 35). Clearly, they were beingforced into Christianity, and they did not have any option since itwas one of the few ways in which they could access food rations.Instead, some of them were reluctant in converting into Christianitysince they did not trust the White people that brought more problemsthan the solutions instead. In fact, they even associated them with acurse because of the multiple problems that they encountered aftertheir arrival. In fact, the loss of all their important resources andthe insufficient political control pushed them into seeking acleansing ritual through the Episcopal baptism, and the Ghost Dancetoo (Hodge 2016). The scenario showed that the Shoshone people wereforced into converting to Christianity because of the variouschallenges that they were experiencing at that time.

In conclusion, the essay reveals how the gender, ethnicity, andreligion affected the Shoshone people. For instance, the women werethe farmers and the gatherers while the men were the hunters.However, the environmental changes altered those gender roles, andthe women had to rely on the men as they went out for the huntingmissions. Instead, their ethnicity made it hard to access any huntinggrounds since the White people had placed them in reservations andthey could not move freely in search of food. They were viewed asinferior people, and they had to rely mostly on food rations. Themissionaries even tried to make them convert to Christianity but,they were hesitant. They even looked at their arrival as a curse, andthey had to undergo the ritual cleansing instead.


Hodge, Adam. “Our women and Children cry for Food, and we have noFood to give them”: The Environmental Dimensions of EasternShoshone Dispossession. The Confluence. 2016.

Stamm, Henry. People of the Wind River: The Eastern Shoshones,1825-1900. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 1999.

Oswalt, Wendell H. This Land was theirs: A study of Native NorthAmericans. Oxford University Press, USA, 2008.

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