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The Timbisha ("red rock facepaint") are a Native American people who have lived in Death Valley, Californiamarker region of North America for over 1000 years. In 1933 President Herbert Hoover created Death Valley National Monument, an action that subsumed the tribe's homeland within park boundaries. Despite their long-time presence in the region, the proclamation failed to provide a homeland for the Timbisha people. After unsuccessful efforts to remove the band to nearby reservations, National Park Service officials entered into an agreement with Shoshone leaders to allow the Civilian Conservation Corps to construct an Indian villagemarker for tribal members near park headquarters at Furnace Creek in 1938. Thereafter tribal members survived within monument boundaries, although their status was repeatedly challenged by monument officials.

With the help of the California Indian Legal Services, Timbisha Shoshone members led by Pauline Esteves began agitating for a formal reservation in the 1960s. The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, part of the Western Shoshone Nation, was recognized by the US government in 1983. In this effort, they were one of the first tribes to secure tribal status through the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Federal Acknowledgment Process. They had formerly been known as the Panamint Shoshone. Despite their recognition, they still faced conflict with the National Park Service over gaining land within the monument. After much politicking and compromise, of ancestral homelands were given back to the tribe in 2000 via the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act.

There are about 300 members of the tribe, approximately 50 of whom live at Furnace Creekmarker within Death Valley National Parkmarker. Many spend the summers at Lone Pine, Californiamarker in Owens Valleymarker to the west.


  • Crum, Steven J. (1998),"A Tripartite State of Affairs:The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs,1934–1994," American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 22(1): 117-136).

  • Haberfeld, Steven (2000), "Government-to-Government Negotiations: How the Timbisha Shoshone Got Its Land Back,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 24(4): 127–65. (Author, as of 2009, is exec. dir., Indian Dispute Resolution Service, Sacramento,CA.)

  • Miller, Mark E. (2004), Forgotten Tribes: Unrecognized Indians and the Federal Acknowledgment Process (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004). The Timbisha are one of four cases reviewed.

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