Ethnic Groups of Nevada

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This entry was originally written by Nell Sachse Woodard and Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Nevada Family History Research series.
History of Nevada
Nevada Vital Records
Census Records for Nevada
Background Sources for Nevada
Nevada Maps
Nevada Land Records
Nevada Probate Records
Nevada Court Records
Nevada Tax Records
Nevada Cemetery Records
Nevada Church Records
Nevada Military Records
Nevada Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Nevada Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of Nevada
Nevada County Resources
Map of Nevada


Native American

Historically, there have been four major tribes occupying lands in present-day Nevada: Northern and Southern Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Washo. Today, there are twenty-three reservations although most of the state’s native people have never lived on one. The reservations and small colonies scattered throughout Nevada often make research somewhat difficult.

The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada represents twenty-six tribes, communities, and organizations in the Nevada and Great Basin region, including Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone (in four bands); the Washoe Tribe of Nevada/California; various Paiute tribes, reservations, and colonies; and the Goshutes of Nevada and Utah. The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada does not conduct genealogical research; however, their member links provide important contact information. It should be noted that many of Nevada’s Native Americans lived on state boundaries. Consequently, records may be in government agencies and in censuses outside Nevada.

The agencies in Nevada are currently divided into the Eastern Nevada Agency and Western Nevada Agency. Most of the older agency records are at the FARC San Francisco (see Ethnic Groups of California).

Other Ethnic Groups

Nevada has a large foreign-born population whose history is covered in Wilbur S. Shepperson, Restless Strangers: Nevada’s Immigrants and Their Interpreters (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1970). The book draws from newspaper accounts, interviews, and census records.

The Yugoslavians and the Basques are two important ethnic groups in the history of Nevada. The following will provide helpful background material on them: Adam S. Eterovich, Yugoslavs in Nevada, 1859–1900 (San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1973), and William A. Douglass and Jon Bilbao, Amerikanuak, Basques in the New World (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1975). The Basque Studies Library at the University of Nevada, Reno, holds a large collection of Basque-related material for Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. It maintains the most comprehensive collection for Basque Studies outside of Europe.

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