/shoh shoh"nee/, n., pl. Shoshones, (esp. collectively) Shoshone for 2.
1. a river in NW Wyoming, flowing NE into the Big Horn River. 120 mi. (193 km) long.
2. a member of any of several Numic-speaking peoples of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.
3. the language or languages of the Shoshone. Also, Shoshoni (for defs. 2, 3).
[1805, Amer.; < an Eastern Shoshone band name]

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Group of closely related North American Indian peoples living in the Great Basin region of the U.S. Their language belongs to the Numic group of the Uto-Aztecan family.

The Shoshone are usually divided into four groups: Western (unmounted) Shoshone, centred in eastern Nevada; Northern (mounted) Shoshone of northwestern Utah and southern Idaho; Wind River Shoshone in western Wyoming; and Comanche in western Texas. The Western Shoshone subsisted through hunting and gathering. The Northern Shoshone and Wind River Shoshone probably acquired horses by 1680 and adopted much of Plains Indian culture; they hunted buffalo, used tepees and skin clothing, and warred with other tribes. The Shoshone are closely related to the Ute, Paiute, Gosiute, and Bannock. After splitting from the Wind River group, the Comanche moved south. The Shoshone number about 10,000.

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also spelled  Shoshoni ; also called  Snake 
 North American Indian group that occupied the territory from what is now southeastern California across central and eastern Nevada and northwestern Utah into southern Idaho and western Wyoming. The Shoshone of historic times were organized into four groups: Western, or unmounted, Shoshone, centred in Nevada; Northern, or horse, Shoshone of northern Utah and Idaho; Wind River Shoshone in western Wyoming; and Comanche in western Texas, a comparatively recent offshoot of the Wind River group. The Shoshone language is a Central Numic language (Numic languages) of the Uto-Aztecan (Uto-Aztecan languages) family. Shoshone dialects were so similar that speakers from the extreme ends of Shoshone territory were mutually intelligible.

      The Western Shoshone were organized into loosely affiliated family bands that subsisted on wild plants, small mammals, fish, and insects. Each family was independently nomadic during most of the year and joined other families only briefly for activities such as rabbit drives, antelope hunts, or dancing; like other Great Basin Indians (Great Basin Indian), they were sometimes referred to by the derogatory name Diggers, taken from their practice of digging tubers and roots for food. A few Western Shoshone obtained horses after the colonial settlement of Nevada and Utah.

      The Wind River Shoshone and Northern Shoshone probably acquired horses as early as 1680, before Spanish occupation of their lands. They formed loosely organized bands of mounted buffalo hunters and warriors and adopted many Plains Indian cultural traits such as the use of tepees and the importance of counting coup (striking or touching an enemy in warfare in a prescribed way) as a war honour. Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who acted as interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–06, is thought to have been a member of either the Wind River or the Northern group.

      After acquiring horses, the Comanche split off from the Wind River Shoshone and moved south into Texas. Comanche bands were feared by the Spaniards of the Southwest because they subsisted as much by plunder as by buffalo hunting.

      Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 41,000 descendants of the four Shoshone groups.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Shoshone — Uto Aztecan people of the Great Basin, of unknown origin, first applied 19c. to eastern Shoshonis of Wyoming …   Etymology dictionary

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