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Idaho's Culture Areas

The People, as they traveled, eventually, over thousands of years, inhabited and lived within what are now called Culture Areas by anthropologists. America is loosely sectioned into several regional culture areas.

The term Culture Area means that the tribes which lived within a culture area were more similar to one another than to tribes which inhabited other regions. The tribes within a culture area might share similar clothing styles, foods, customs, stories & myths, and languages. Within a culture area there were likely to be marriages between the various related tribes.

Idaho has very different regional areas, such as: the Snake River Plain; Salmon River country and mountains; the Panhandle; and arid Western Idaho. Each of these regions have differing climates, geography, plants, animals, fish, and other resources such as rocks, minerals, and water. Not amazingly, the tribes which came into these areas after 5,000 years ago used the variety of regional resources in differing ways.

Plateau Culture Area

Today anthropologists identify two culture areas in Idaho. The Northern Panhandle area is designated as part of the Plateau Culture Area which was inhabited by the Nimi'ipuu (Nez Perce), Kalispel, Kutenai and Schitsu'umsh (Coeur d' Alene) tribes. The Plateau Culture Area also included tribes of people living in eastern Washington.

Great Basin Culture Area

The Great Basin Culture Area extends over much of Nevada and Utah and reaches north into Idaho to Corn Creek on the Salmon River. The Great Basin Culture Area of Idaho is inhabited by the Shoshoni, Bannock and Northern Paiute tribes.

Great Plains Culture Area

The Shoshoni and Nez Perce tribes were influenced by tribes living east of Idaho in the Great Plains Culture Area. Among the Great Plains tribes were the Siksika(Blackfoot), Tsistsistsas & Suhtai (Cheyenne), Arapaho, and Lakota (Sioux). The Nimi'ipuu (Nez Perce) and Sosoni' peoples adopted clothing styles, hunting techniques, horses, and shelter designs from their neighbors on the Great Plains.