Museum of Northern Arizona exterior

Southern Paiute

The Paiutes likely reached the Colorado Plateau between 1100 and 1200 A.D. They speak a dialect of the Numic language family, and are related to the Ute people. Paiute means “true Ute” or “water Ute.” Historically the Southern Paiute were a hunting and gathering people, and some bands also practiced limited irrigation agriculture and grew corn, beans, squash, sunflower, melons, and gourds.

Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, more Europeans began moving into Southern Paiute territory and claiming it for themselves, culminating in the Paiute or Pyramid Lake War. The Utes were eventually defeated by the United States army, and the US began moving all Native Americans into reservations. The Southern Paiute refused to be moved into a reservation, and eventually settled in southern Utah.

1n 1954, as an assimilation effort, the US government stopped recognizing the Southern Paiute as a group, but they regained federal recognition in 1980. Today there are Southern Paiute communities scattered throughout the Southwest.