Paiute

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Paiute

(pīo͞ot`), 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 languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). 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 DanceGhost Dance,
central ritual of the messianic religion instituted in the late 19th cent. by a Paiute named Wovoka. The religion prophesied the peaceful end of the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native Americans.
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 religion, which was to be of much significance on the frontier in the 1890s, first appeared (c.1870). The Native American prophet WovokaWovoka
, c.1858–1932, Paiute, prophet of a messianic religion sometimes called the Ghost Dance religion. Also known as Jack Wilson, he was influenced by his father (a mystic) as well as by the Christian family for whom he worked and the Shaker religion.
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 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.

Bibliography

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).