Maud Moon

Maud Moon, whose maiden name was Maud McGill, was born at Chin Creek, Nevada in 1884. Her mother was from the Dolly Varden, a low mountain range about 40 miles to the north of the present-day Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. Her father was from Waatoya, just west of the Reservation. She did not know her maternal grandparents but her paternal grandparents were from the "other side,” west of Waatoya. Her husband was from Skull Valley, Utah.

As a child her household consisted of her mother, father, and some brothers and sisters. Her peer group was made up of her siblings, cousins (mother's brother's children), plus a few ranchers’ children. She never learned English, in spite of the fact that she played with white children. While in her teens, her father died, and she, her mother, and single living sister moved to Goshute, where she lived out the rest of her life. 

She met her future husband at a fandango held near Goshute. The two of them settled at Goshute but made frequent visits to Skull Valley. She also made frequent visits to Ft. Hall Reservation in Idaho to visit her married granddaughter and to attend the Sun Dance.

Mrs. Moon was a well-known, prolific storyteller of traditional stories, characterized by their lyrical quality, rich dialogue, and complex vocabulary.  A number of the narratives are ethnographic in nature and reflect her deep understanding of traditional lifestyle, including foraging practices, healthy living, life as a traditional Goshute woman, and her thoughtful reflections on how European contact had negatively affected her people.  Her stories attracted the attention of scholars and, beginning in 1967, Professor Wick R. Miller at the University of Utah audio-recorded 42 narratives from Mrs. Moon, which now form a large part of the Wick R. Miller Collection (WRMC).  The narratives range from about 2 minutes to about 90 minutes in length.  

Prof. Miller’s first interviews with Mrs. Moon were done through the use of an interpreter. His notes explain that she uses lexical and grammatical items from the Fort Hall and Skull Valley dialects of Shoshoni, as well as from her native dialect. Mrs. Moon’s language, Goshute (aka Gosiute), is a dialect of Shoshoni, a language spoken over a 1200 m. range from its southernmost point near Death Valley, California to Wind River, Wyoming. Shoshoni is a Central Numic language, the northernmost branch of Uto-Aztecan languages. 

Note: This biographical information is based on Wick R. Miller’s materials, currently held by the Shoshoni Language Project at the University of Utah.  In those materials, her name is usually spelled “Maude”.


To watch video roundtable discussions about Goshute and Shoshoni storytelling, as well as to listen to Maud Moon perform the story "Seasons" in Goshute, and read a transcript of the story in English, visit her entry in Storytelling

Additional Info

  • Region: West Desert
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Tags: Women, Native American, Goshute