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Paiute

Paiute (pĪōtˈ) [key], two distinct groups of Native North Americans speaking languages belonging to the Shoshonean group of the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The Northern Paiute ranged over central and E California, W Nevada, and E Oregon. The Southern Paiute occupied NW Arizona, SE California, S Nevada, and S Utah. The Northern Paiute were more warlike than their southern relatives; they fought the miners and the settlers during the 1860s, and a considerable part of them joined the Bannock in the war of 1878. The Southern Paiute are often called the Diggers because they subsisted on root digging. In general the Paiute of the Great Basin area subsisted by hunting, fishing, and digging for roots. They lived in small round huts (wickiups) that were covered with tule rushes. It was among the Paiute that the Ghost Dance religion, which was to be of much significance on the frontier in the 1890s, first appeared (c.1870). The Native American prophet Wovoka was a Paiute. In 1990 there were over 11,000 Paiute in the United States, many of them living on tribal lands in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. The name is also spelled Piute.

See J. H. Steward, Ethnography of the Owens Valley Paiute (1933); O. C. Stewart, Northern Paiute Bands (1939); M. M. Wheat, Survival Arts of the Primitive Paiutes (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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