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Wash History

Native Americans and the Historic Period (AD 1850 - 1905)

Identity of the people who lived in and around Las Vegas Valley just before the historical period is established on archaeological, linguistic, and Native American origin myth sources. There is no consensus as to how these Numic-speaking peoples came to inhabit the Great Basin, but generally, there is agreement that peoples who occupied this region were engaged in hunting, gathering, and foraging practices that were supplemented by horticulture. The culture was flexible in its response to climatic change, enabling people to change localities to take advantage of temporary increases in available food supplies, and minimize the negative impacts of decreases.

Social groups were small, primarily composed of kindred, and in periods of extended drought, an extended family might even fragment into pairs that foraged alone. Historic and artifactual evidence suggest that Southern Paiute people occupied the Las Vegas Wash in the Historical and possibly earlier periods. Both Southern Paiute and Mojave tribal members have identified the Wash as an area of cultural significance.

Paiute/Chemehuevi: The Southern Paiute and the Chemehuevi, an off-shoot of the Las Vegas Band of the Southern Paiutes, were two bands of Southern Paiute that inhabited the Las Vegas Valley and adjacent areas. Each had its own territory, but boundaries often overlapped.

Many believe that, before contact, Southern Paiute culture included a subsistence regime based on foraging and hunting on seasonal rounds similar to cultures during the Archaic period. With the addition of horticulture, the Southern Paiutes embraced a lifeway that continued well into the historic period. The Colorado River and Lower Las Vegas Wash were significant landmarks for the Las Vegas Valley territory. There were numerous occupation sites around the Valley, including two on or near Las Vegas Wash.

(Excerpt from Greg Seymour, Archaeologist, Springs Preserve)

Las Vegas Wash Project Coordination Team • 100 City Parkway, Suite 700 • Las Vegas, NV 89106 • (702) 822-3300