Moapa Memories

By members of The Moapa Bands of Paiutes

Anecdotes from four elders of the Moapa Paiutes.

The references to Palm trees in these anecdotal reports refer to the Oases of Washingtonia filiferi (Desert Fan Palms) located west of the reservation where each of these women grew up.

The anecdotes were collected by Kaye Herron of Overton in June of 1996 who has known most of the women for many years.
I would like to extend my appreciation to each of these women and to Kaye Herron, my friend who was so gracious in donating time and effort to help with this project.

-Spencer, W
mail toisat405oak (a) yahoo

Evelyn Samalar

age: 76 years Moapa Paiute -born and raised on Moapa reservation-

I recently spent time with a group from the Archaeo-Nevada society and Evelyn Samalar. Ms. Samalar was very gracious spending the entire day with us recalling precious memories. She took us to see the place where her grandmother used to grind beans in the rocks as well as the Palm oasis where her grandfather used to go to get the water to make his sweat baths.

It was a very emotionally rich day and I will never forget the glow in the room as she spoke of her grandfather. Because of the personal and private nature of her memories, I have taken her words off these web-pages.

This is a direct response from what I felt deeply to be her silent wishes. I hope that I have honored her. In a short time, Mrs. Samalar became to me as my own grandmother. I can't describe the feelings I felt as she took us on a wonderful but short journey through some of her prized memories.

A professional ethnographer, Helen Mortenson, will soon be recording and collecting Evelyns memories for archives and will determine at that time whether or not they are to be made public or kept privately by Mrs. Samalar.

I want to publicly say thank you to Evelyn for sharing those priceless moments with us.

Irene Benn

age: 73 years. -Moapa Paiute- (June 27,1923)

Question: Do you recall your elders ever using Palms for anything such as food, weaving baskets or for shelter?

Yes ...for shelter. I remember my grandparents using Palms for shelters and small huts.

Question: Have you ever heard your elders say anything to the effect: "The Palms are always" here?

Yes. My grandfather said that the Palms have always been there.

-Irene Benn

Maureen Frank

age 63 years . -Moapa Paiute-

(NOTE: Shortly after collecting this anecdote, Maureen Frank passed away. I would like to express my sympathy to her family and friends. May we honor her memory.)

I remember seeing shelter built with Palm fronds and I remember my grandparents using Palms to build small huts and shelters. I also remember my grandmother grinding seed from the Palms but I was very young and I don't remember what kind of food was made from it.

My father used to say that the Palms were always here. My grandparents always used to say that too... that the Palms have always been here. There are deep grinding holes in the rocks near my house. I'll show you (spoken to Kaye Herron) ...where my grandmother used to grind seeds.

Juanita Kinlichinie

-age: 64 years- -Moapa Paiute-

I remember my grandmother use to take and soak the long things that hang down from the Palm trees. She would soak these in water until it was real white. She made baskets with them, but baskets made this way didn't make the good baskets. The good baskets were made from the reeds or willows which came from the river.

My grandparents said that the palms have always been here. I also saw my grandmother crush and grind the seeds from the palms. They made a sort of gravy out of it. There used to be a Paiute word for the gravy but I don't remember what it was. Irene is older than me, she might remember what they used to call the gravy.

We have always known that white men did not bring the palms to the area. Among ourselves we've always known that the palms were here before the white man. The palms have always been here.

-Juanita Kinlichinie-

Return to the Desert Fan Palm page at...

back to text Palm frond shelters Back to text

Artist's conception of what palm thatch huts may have looked like using real photos of palm thatched huts from early in this century.

Palm frond baskets
Back to text

Some Moapa Paiute baskets from early in this century
along with a Palm fiber basket (in front.)

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