Life on the
Snake River Plain
Sosoni' People called themselves Ne'we in prehistoric times. An enterprising
People, they had already learned how to live in desert regions, and
understood very well how to efficiently exploit the meager resources
of the far flung Great Basin region.
in fact, found southern Idaho to be an under used cornucopia of food
resources. However, the needed resources were spread out upon the land
at great distances, and were harvestable at different elevations during
different seasons of the year.
the Sosoni' lived in the valleys during the winter and traveled into
the mountains throughout the spring and summer, returning to the valleys
as winter set in.
that the families and bands usually camped and
lived removed from each
other by great distances. During
certain times of the year however, the bands and families would gather
in order to harvest pinon nuts, hunt rabbit and pronghorn, spear salmon
and live in winter camps. It was at these larger gatherings that the
Sosoni' strengthened their bonds
between the bands and families.
an important aspect of life for the Sosoni'.
The men hunted large and
small game with dead falls,
traps and spears (after 1500 years ago with
bows and arrows). Among the large game animals hunted were deer, pronghorn,
bison and big horn sheep. Small game animals were often
which were hunted include groundhog, jack rabbits, prairie dogs, rodents,
and porcupine. Insects were not heavily utilized, but some such as grasshoppers
be used for food. Fish, such as salmon, were also
by the men with spears.
as ducks, geese, and several varieties of
grouse, were hunted by the men and boys. Eggs, when found,
were also included in their diet.
Image: Idaho Museum of Natural History
was the food providing
activity of the women. Many different
kinds of plants would be dug and picked included wild onion, bitterroot,
arrow-leaf balsam-root, and the tobacco root plants.
All were harvested and gathered in
by the women and children.
The camas bulb, Camassia quamash,
was harvested and stored as a staple
source of food. However, Zigadenus
venenosus, the Death Camas, would
poison and kill any animal which ate it.
It was very
important for everyone gathering food to know
which plants were edible and which were poisonous.
supplied seeds that were gathered by the women in the late summer and
fall. The seeds of junegrass, blue bunch wheat grass, thick spike wheat
grass, and Nevada bluegrass would be ground and stored for winter food.
No diet would
be complete without fruits. In Southeastern Idaho the Sosoni' women
would gather seviceberry, chokecherries, and currants. The berries would
be dried and stored for winter use. Berries could also be found and
used in puddings, soups, stews, and pemmican.
fall pine nuts would be gathered in by the bands. These nuts would store
over many months and could be used in many dishes.
also gather trout in weirs, a fishing trap set into the stream. Freshwater
mussels would be gathered and eaten whenever The People camped near
streams. Evidence for this is found at Wahmuza, an archaeological site
on the Fort Hall bottoms.