The Greedy Porcupine: A Shoshone Tale

Background Knowledge

Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation

The Shoshone, Paiute, Bannock and Ute people are related, and call themselves Newe or Neme (the People). Prior to contact with Europeans, the Newe groups formed small extended-family groupings that traveled extensively as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to survive in the harsh environment of the Great Basin desert. The Northwestern Shoshone traveled with the changing season. In the early autumn, the Northwestern Shoshone moved into the region near what is now Salmon, Idaho to fish. In the spring and summer, the Northwestern band traveled around southern Idaho and throughout Utah. During these months, they spent their time gathering seeds, roots, and berries and socializing with each other. Late summer was root digging time and smaller-game hunting time. Around late October, the band moved into western Utah and parts of Nevada for the annual gathering of pine nuts. The nutrient-rich nuts were an important part of the Shoshone diet. The area around what is now called Franklin and Preston, Idaho, was a permanent wintering home of the Northwestern Shoshone. It was known as Moson Kahni, which means Home of the Lungs. The rocks in the area looked sponge-like and made the Shoshone think of lungs. In this area and the rest of Cache Valley were natural places for the shoshone make their homes. More information about the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation can be accessed in the resources below. 

The resource, "Native American Storytelling" gives a summary of storytelling for teachers to use in choosing main points that they feel are important to teach to thier students. The book includes a glossary with words in the native language, as well as vocabulary and teaching points. The teacher should explain that traditional stories from the Native American people in Utah have been handed down from one storyteller to another over the ages. The story is adapted each time, depending upon the individual storyteller, but the same message is taught or reinforced in the storyline. Teachers need to be able to explain to students that Native American traditional storytellers used legends, folktales and fables for many reasons. These stories recount the history of the people, they are used to entertain children, to educate children about morals and values, to teach life lessons through the characters and the consequences of thier choices. In this story, the lesson Porcupine learns is something we all should learn (to be grateful for the gifts and talents we are given, and not use them wrongly for our own pleasure or entertainment or gain). Have the students watch for the lesson Porcupine learns. The lesson Porcupine learns is something we all should learn (to be grateful for the gifts and talents we are given, and not use them wrongly for our own pleasure or entertainment or gain). Have the students watch for the lesson Porcupine learns. According to Shoshone culture, everyone should be proud of who he or she is, not envious of others. Everyone should also be grateful for what they have and avoid complaining. Everyone is given special gifts and talents, which should be used appropriately. If talents are misused, they could be taken away.

Related Resources:

Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation

Utah American Indian Digital Archive

History To Go: Shoshone of Northern Utah

UEN: Utah Tribal Nations