Moapa people strive to preserve our legends, songs
and dances. However, cultural disruption during the
past two centuries has threatened the continuation
of traditional life.
Prior to the 1800s, the Moapa People were a
culturally well adapted people who combined farming
with hunting and gathering. They used the resources
of the land with great ingenuity.
Most of the domestic objects of our ancestors were
various forms of intricately designed basketry,
including water jars, winnowing and parching trays,
cradle boards, cooking baskets and seed beaters.
They had great skill in the use of animal skins and
plants. Their knowledge of nutritional and medicinal
uses of plants was extensive.
The history of Moapa following white contact, dating
from the 1830 opening of the Old Spanish Trail, is a
tragedy. A peaceful people saw their land and water
seized, and their homes frequently raided by
slavers. Conflicts erupted with Mormon settlers, New
Mexicans and other emigrants.
Our numbers diminished rapidly as new diseases were
contracted, especially tuberculosis and measles.
Insurrection and raiding for survival were brutally
punished by federal troops and white settlers.
Although armed with bow and arrows, defiance did not
stop the intrusion of whites into Moapa. The People
were forced to flee into the desert and farming was
In 1873, 39,000 square miles were set aside for
tribal lands by the federal government. In 1875,
though, the reservation was reduced to a meager
1,000 acres, followed by 60 years of neglect and
corruption by white agents.
In 1941 a Constitution and bylaws were created, and
the Business Council was established as a governing
body for the tribe.
An attempt to revive farming in 1941 failed due to
water problems, and a lack of equipment, and money.
Discouraged, the tribe agreed to lease the farmland
to a dairy company. Beginning with a claim filed in
1951 for compensation of tribal land confiscated in
the 1860’s, the Indian Claims Commission granted a
judgment which resulted in the establishment of a
perpetual capital fund for improvements and economic
development. Subsequently, in 1968 the tribe refused
to renew leases to non-members.
- a rare look at the past
This fascinating look into the Moapa Band of Paiutes
is an eye-opening account of the tribe’s past,
culture, and growth. This rare brochure, now
accessible on-line, details the accomplishments,
activities and community spirit of a people who
comprise an essential part of Southern Nevada.
Click here to view brochure
- a film showing the clashing of cultures
“Trespassing” is a film produced by Red Umbrella
dealing with the issues of underground nuclear
weapons testing, and storage of radioactive waste.
It includes interviews with native leaders as well
as historic film documentation of events surrounding
Ward Valley, and Yucca Mountain. “Trespassing” shows
the clash of spiritual, cultural and traditional
values of Indian peoples with the political agendas
of nuclear testing and storage of radioactive waste
on native lands.