History of Paiute Indians of Utah

Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)

The Southern Paiutes of Utah live in the southwestern corner of the state where the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau meet. The Southern Paiute language is one of the northern Numic branches of the large Uto-Aztecan language family. Most scholars agree that the Paiutes entered Utah about A.D. 1100-1200.

Historically, the largest population concentrations of Paiutes were along the Virgin and Muddy rivers; other Paiutes adapted to a more arid desert environment that centered on water sources such as springs. Both desert and riverine groups were mainly foragers, hunting rabbits, deer, and mountain sheep, and gathering seeds, roots, tubers, berries, and nuts. Paiutes also practiced limited irrigation agriculture along the banks of the Virgin, Santa Clara, and Muddy rivers. They raised corn, squash, melons, gourds, sunflowers, and, later, winter wheat.

Paiute social organization was based on the family. Fluid groupings of families sometimes formed loose bands, which were often named after a major resource or geographic feature of their home territory. Paiute groups gathered together in the fall for dances and marriages. Marriage meant the establishment of a joint household and was not marked by ceremony. Although monogamy was the norm, marriage variants such as sororal polygamy and polyandry were present.

The riverine Paiutes had influential chiefs with limited power based on their ability to create consensus among the group. Leadership in the desert groups was usually only task specific. Some individuals were better at hunting rabbits, or at healing, or at twining baskets, and they organized those activities.

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