Paiute, Southern (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Southern Paiutes belong to the Numic-speaking group of the Shoshonean branch of the Uto-Aztecan family. They call themselves nuwu, which literally means “human being.” The Paiutes spread across the Great Basin into the northern portion of the southwestern United States around 1000 c.e., replacing prehistoric Pueblo-like peoples who had inhabited the region. Similarities in agricultural production and pottery making indicate that the Southern Paiutes must have learned much from the Pueblos they replaced. Defensive structures and artifacts dated at mid-twelfth century suggest that strife may have existed between the groups, causing the Pueblos to flee the region and allowing the Paiutes to expand their territory eastward. By the eighteenth century the Paiutes were living in a great crescentic region from southeastern Utah to northeastern Arizona to the deserts of Southern California and Nevada.
Aboriginal Paiute Culture
During their aboriginal period the Paiutes were primarily gatherers of wild plants, roots, berries, and seeds, supplemented by some hunting of rabbits, deer, mountain sheep, and some insects and lizards. Farming was severely limited and included only corn, beans, and squash. During this early period the Paiutes traded with nearby tribes including the Hopi, Havasupai, Walapai, and Mojave. There is evidence to suggest that these groups existed peaceably with one another.
It is doubtful that the...
(The entire section is 1455 words.)
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