Utah: a people's history by Dean L. May

By Dean L. May

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Had he looked beyond the valley floor to the Oquirrhs he would have quickly found his explanation. Like most ranges in Utah's arid regions, the Oquirrhs do not have a single stream flowing continuously into the valley. Settlements were on the east side of the valley because there the mountains are of an an entirely different character. At the eastern edge of the Bonneville Basin the great ranges of the Wasatch and Uinta reach abruptly skyward, throwing up a granite wall that the prevailing westerly winds must scale as they cross the continent.

Page 14 Their principal weapon was a device called an atlatl that gives leverage and thrust in throwing a spear, much as a sling does in throwing a rock. With it they killed the small animals and antelope that frequented their habitat, using the flesh for meat and the sinews, hides, and bones for fashioning cloaks and tools. We know that they wove nets of plant fibers and twisted rabbit hide, probably stretching them in a broad semicircle on sticks and driving animals into them. They fashioned duck decoys that lured fresh fowl into the marshes where they could be more readily bagged.

Designs were pressed into wet clay and, in later periods, also painted on the pots. Perfectly round clay balls have been found that apparently were used for games of some kind, and incised bone gaming devices like those used by the Archaic cultures were probably used like our modern dominoes or dice. The Fremont peoples probably lived in family groupings or clans. Their range of commerce and contact with other groups was much greater than one might suppose. It is generally believed that agriculture and pottery making originated in the Southwest and that these, as well as other aspects of Fremont culture, came from there.

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