Indian Education

Utah State Board of Education

Skull Valley Goshute Tribe

General Information

Tribe Chief

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The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in the west desert of Tooele County. They are part of the larger Shoshonean-speaking Native American groups that lived in the Intermountain West.

The Skull Valley Band of Goshute exemplify the historic Great Basin desert way of life perhaps better than does any other group because of the nature to their territory. Organized primarily in nuclear families, they hunted and gathered in family groups and would often cooperate with other family groups that usually made up a village. Hunting of large game was usually done by men: women and children gathered plants, sees, and insects. A hunter shared large game with other members of the village, but the family was able to provide for most its needs without assistance.

They had an effective understanding of growing cycles, variations in climate, and animal distribution patterns. Their basic diet consisted of wild berries, plants, seeds, small game and insects.

They lived in the most desolate part of what is now the western portion of Utah and eastern Nevada. Because of this their culture has long been recognized as the simplest of any to be found in the Great Basin. In aboriginal times they lived at a minimum subsistence level with no economic surplus on which a more elaborate socio-political structure could be built.

Although exact boundaries are hard to determine because of the nature of the land, they lived in the area between the Oquirrh Mountains on the east and the Steptoe Mountain in Eastern Nevada, and from the south end of the Great Salt Lake to an area almost parallel with the south end of Utah Lake. There are also indications that they had established some areas of the Wasatch Front. This area is located entirely within the Great Basin, which is an area with some of the most arid conditions on the continent, as well as one of the most varied regions in terms of climate, topography, flora and fauna.

The first contact with whites was documented in 1826. The contact with whites remained sporadic and insignificant from that time until the arrival of the Mormons in 1847 when contact became continual and prolonged.

On October 12, 1863 a treaty was signed with the U.S. Government. In 1917 and again in 1918 by Executive Order the U.S. Government set aside and reserved a specific area of land for the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation. The current enrollment is one hundred twenty-three. Approximately thirty members live on the reservation. Some on a permanent basis and some on a temporary basis. The balance live in the outlying cities or out-of state. The Reservation consists of approximately 18,000 acres. The Tribe is made up of an Executive Committee of three members. Chairman, Vice-Chair, and Tribal Secretary which is the governing body of the Tribe: and the General Council which is the membership of the Tribe. The members of the Executive Committee are nominated and elected by the adult membership of the General Council, and serve on four year terms.

The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians has no natural resources and rely on economic development to sustain them. They currently lease a rocket test facility located on the Reservation from which they currently derive their income and benefits.

Because the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation is located in an area which has been designated as a waste zone by the State of Utah, they must rely on economic development programs which are consistent with the numerous waste, production and testing facilities which surround the Reservation. They have been approached by numerous entities and have decided against a business relationship with most of them because they did not meet the strict criteria standards which the Band has established.

About the Confederated Tribes of Goshute

Goshute Beaded Purse

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Reservation Name and Location:

The Goshute Reservation is located in White Pine County, Nevada in extreme east central Nevada, and in Juab and Tooele Counties in West Central Utah approximately 60 miles Southeast of Wendover.

Trust Acreage:

Established under Executive Order No. 1539 approved May 20, 1912 and Executive Order No. 1903, March 23, 1914 and under the authority of June 18, 1934 - land purchases were made from the year of 1937 to 1990 total acreage 112,085. 10,000 acres being made an addition to the southern boundary of the reservation, total acreage to be 122,085.

Tribal Membership:

412 as of October 20, 1997.

Law and Order:

Federal Jurisdiction, presently the Goshute Tribe is providing the police protection on the reservation, via P.L. 93-638 federal contract.

Court System:

CFR Court has been established, the Goshute tribe was served by the Te-Moak tribe of Elko, as of October 1, 1997, the Goshute Tribe contracted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to have its own court system on the Reservation, using CFR Judge to administer justice.

Codes and Ordinances:

The Tribe has established the following Codes and Ordinances:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Committee Tribal Court
  • Employment of Police Officer
  • Indian Housing Authority
  • Elections
  • Enrollment Procedures
  • Exclusion of undesired persons From the Reservation
  • Transport & possession of alcohol
  • Curfew for minors
  • Grazing Ordinance
  • Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation
  • Hunting & Fishing

Tribal Organization:

Constitution and By-Laws adopted November 9, 1940; Approved November 25, 1940. Goshute Tribe is organized under IRA (Indian Reorganization Act). The name of the Governing body: Goshute Business Council. Number of Members in the governing body is five (5). Quorum of four (4) council members and one presiding officer. Terms of office for members/officers of governing body is three years. Elections are usually held in November and December.
Officers sworn into office within 5 days after the election. Meetings - Regular meetings of the Business Council: 2nd Thursday of each quarter, and at such other times the business council may provide by a resolution. Monthly meetings are usually held on the third Thursday of the month.

Contact Tribal Educaton Director

Other Resources

Utah American Indian Digital Archive

Utah Division of Indian Affairs