A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for a baccalaureate degree in Economics in cursu honorum
Dr. Fung, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance B.A.
The Honors Program, Saint Peter’s University
will demonstrate the impact of the unique natural phenomena of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on the belief systems and mythology of the Sheep Eater people, a subgroup of the Shoshone Indians who inhabited the area. Central to my methodology is the comparison of Sheep Eater stories and myths to the mythology of their relatives, the Panamint Valley /Saline Valley Shoshone. The two groups share a common ancestor through the Paiute people, who split up to become the Shoshone and migrated eastward into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. By comparing the mythology, folklore, and stories of the two groups who are located in two distinct ecological regions, I will prove that mythology is directly influenced by the surrounding environment and ecosystem. In order for readers to fully understand the magnitude of the impact the natural landscape can have on a group of people, we must first examine how the area came into existence including how natural landforms and features were made. We must also explore how humans migrated to North America and how the Paiute people of Southern California evolved into the Shoshone. By reviewing archaeological evidence and sites across the Southwestern United States, readers will be able to follow the path the ancient Shoshoni took from the Southwest to Wyoming; eventually residing in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at what would become Yellowstone National Park. A brief time must be spent evaluating Shoshone culture and daily life. Finally, the myths of both Shoshone groups, the Saline/Panamint Valley Shoshone and the Shoshone Sheep Eaters, will be presented, compared and contrasted, and evidence from the surrounding ecosystem will be drawn to show a direct correlation between the landscape and mythology, proving that the landscape and surrounding environment does impact myth.