Indian Territory

The entire state of Nevada is known as Indian Territory, and no wonder. Native peoples have dwelled in the state's valleys, deserts and mountains for thousands of years.

The three major tribes include the Washoe (also spelled Washo), Paiute and Western Shoshone. Twenty-six colonies and reservations spread across the state are vibrant places, where modern American Indians connect with contemporary society but look to traditional ways for spiritual sustenance.

The heart of the Washoe lies at Lake Tahoe. In earlier times the tribe gathered at the lake, where they fished and socialized in the summer. In winter, they returned to the valleys below. Today, the tribe operates Lake Tahoe’s Meeks Bay Resort, with cabins, campsites, white-sand beaches, a boat ramp and water sports facilities, with a trailhead that leads to Desolation Wilderness.

Each summer the Washoe Tribe participates in the Wa She Shu It Deh Native American Arts Festival at the Tallac Historic Site on the lake’s south shore. The event showcases Washoe fancy basketry, contemporary Indian art, music, fine art, film, photography and storytelling. The annual Father’s Day Powwow is held at the former Stewart Indian School—parts of which are being developed as a tribal cultural center—in Carson City.

In ancient times the Paiutes called themselves Numu, their word for The People. Different Paiute groups occupy tribal areas across the state, including Fallon, Pyramid Lake, Smith and Mason valleys, Reno-Sparks, Stillwater and Walker River.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe operates the Scenic Byway Visitors Cultural Center at Nixon on the south end of Pyramid Lake. The Walker River Paiute Tribe welcomes visitors to the annual Walker River Paiute Tribe Annual Pinenut Festival in Schurz in the fall. A spiritual ceremony celebrates the harvest of the pine nut, a traditional food. In Las Vegas, the Snow Mountain Powwow draws participants from across the United States and Canada for a three-day festival.