Numa Indians (Northern Paiute)
Visit our Numa Indian exhibit at the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko, Nevada to learn more about this semi-nomadic tribe, as well as their culture, practices, and how they live today. This incredibly diverse tribe of Native Americans from the Great Basin region, including parts of Nevada, California, Idaho, and Oregon, are often called by the name of Northern Paiute.
Adapted to a Harsh Environment
The Numa Indians were made up of several different tribes, or “bands.” Each band lived in a slightly different geographic region of the Great Basin but typically settled near lakes or wetlands that could provide fish and waterfowl. Primarily, hunter-gatherers, the Numa tribes ate pine nuts, tubers, berries, and small game. They often built temporary brush shelters to allow air circulation in the heat of the summer and built sturdier wickiups in the winter. Other California Trail Tribes who lived in this region include the Western Shoshone and Ute.
The Snake War
The United States Army had many wars and skirmishes with Native Tribes during westward expansion, including a famous four-year long battle known as the Snake War. Several tribes, including the Numa Indians, had settled around the Snake River and were collectively known as the “Snake Indians.” The guerilla-like skirmishes took place from 1864-1868, and while often overlooked in history, it was the deadliest of the Indian Wars, causing 1762 casualties on both sides.
Ancient Culture, Modern Tribe
Like many Indian Tribes, the Numa Indians still exist today. Some scholars estimate that there are 17,000 descendants of the Numa tribe still living on reservations or small communities with other Indian Tribes. Not only do the Numa tribes have an unconquerable spirit, but they were also known for their stories and legends. Some of the most famous include:
- Esa, the wolf – creator god and hero of several Great Basin tribes
- Coyote – a benefactor of humans, giving them fire and other tools of civilization
- Nimerigar – little people who are enemies of mankind
- Stone Mother – the creation tale and legend of Pyramid Lake
Experience the Culture of the Numa Indians
The California Trail Interpretive Center exhibits are the perfect place to experience the life and culture of the Numa Indians and other historical Native American tribes. Check out our calendar of events and upcoming programs for additional details and dates. We can’t wait to help you explore the rich culture of the California Trail. Plan your visit today!