Paiute, Northern (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Northern Paiute, or Paviotso, a branch of the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan language group, originally occupied the far western region of Nevada, the southeastern part of Oregon, and the far eastern fringes of central California. “Paviotso” is actually a derogatory Shoshone word meaning “root digger,” so members of the tribe prefer to be called Paiute, which means “pure water.” The Southern Paiute spoke the same language but inhabited the deserts of northern Arizona and western Utah and had little contact with their northern brothers.
The Northern Paiute fished, hunted deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep, and gathered piñon nuts. During harsh winters, the women dug plant roots to eat (the derivation of the name Paviotso). In winter, the Paiute lived in grass-covered, cone-shaped structures that had a smokehole at the top. In summer, they moved outside and lived in areas surrounded by trees to protect them from the hot winds. Usually no more than fifty persons, or three or four families, lived in each campsite, with the winter homes widely scattered. In the summer, women wore aprons of rabbit skins, but changed to buckskin dresses in the winter. Men wore rabbit skin shirts in the hot months and buckskin leggings when it started to get cold.
The eldest males usually made key decisions, though each village had a “headman” who enforced law and order. Paiute religion stressed...
(The entire section is 735 words.)
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