What Did the Great Basin Indians Eat?

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The Great Basin Indians ate seeds, nuts, berries, roots, bulbs, cattails, grasses, deer, bison, rabbits, elk, insects, lizards, salmon, trout and perch. The specific foods varied, depending on the tribe and where they were located in the Great Basin.

The Utes made up one of the biggest and oldest tribes in the Great Basin. They ranged throughout the mountains of Colorado and Utah and through the plains and deserts of Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona.

This tribe lived mostly off of berries, including gooseberries, chokecherries, raspberries and buffalo berries. They squeezed the berries for juice, then used the pulp to make cakes and other dishes. Then they also ate the roots of yampa and lily plants. They gathered the seeds from the amaranth plant and ate them raw, in soups, dried or as a cereal. They even found nutritional value in trees and cacti. With trees, especially the ponderosa pine, they peeled away the tough, outer bark and ate the soft, inner bark. They plucked off the fruit and flower of the prickly pear cactus, removed the spines and boiled or roasted them. When the Utes were not gathering food, they were hunting it. They trapped small game and hunted antelope, elk and deer.