NOTE: If you are trying to reach the tribe directly, please call (775) 289-3013.
Prior to foreign settlement, there were a number of Western Shoshone villages in Steptoe Valley including Duck Creek, McGill, Warm Springs, Schellbourne, Egan Canyon and Cherry Creek. The Shoshone called the valley Bahanai. As the towns were built, the Shoshone were pushed off their lands. They had to make their living by working for miners or ranchers or in homes in the area.
Today, the Ely Shoshone Indian Reservation has a membership of about 500 people with nearly half of these living on reservation lands in and near the City of Ely. The reservation is made up of three separate land areas. The first of these areas consists of 10 acres in “the Canyon” and was acquired through the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Most of this land was too steep for homes, however, with only about two useable acres.
In 1973 the tribe leased 11 acres in “the Terrace” subdivision in Ely. It purchased this land outright in 1992. There are now homes, administrative offices, a gymnasium and a small park at this location. In 1977 the tribe received an additional 90 acres on the southern edge of Ely. Thirty-eight homes were built there in 1985 with five more added in 1996.
All three of the present Shoshone parcels are surrounded by development. So, to accommodate expected future population growth, the tribe asked the Bureau of Land Management to transfer additional public lands near Ely into a trust account for the tribe. In December of 2006, the White Pine County Public Lands bill transferred 3526 acres to the Ely Shoshone for traditional, ceremonial, commercial and recreational purposes.
The tribe also operates a smoke shop and a textile business called Shoshone Cloth Industries. In 2003, the tribe constructed a new truck stop on Highway 93 coming into Ely.
Each year the Ely Shoshone Tribe hosts a fandango where members gather to share stories, sing traditional songs, and participate in traditional dances and games. Six dancers from Ely participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Ely Shoshone Tribe offers its members classes in the native language and instruction in traditional games and skills. It has a preschool, a clinic with a physician’s assistant on staff, law enforcement officers and a court system, an environmental protection program, and a social services department. A language preservation program is taught twice a week and there is a youth intervention recreation program that includes both cultural and sports activities. The tribe also offers higher education scholarships for four-year colleges and adult vocational training.
Ely Shoshone Tribe information
“Newe - A Western Shoshone History” by the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada
“White Pine County -- Folklife Study” by Andrea Graham