The Northern Paiute language occupied part of the Sierra in the southeastern part of California and the desert country east of it and also a strip of land in the extreme northeast. The Northern Paiute spoke an Uto-Aztecan language from the Western Numic branch.
Northern Paiute. The significance of the word “Paiute” is uncertain, though it has been interpreted to mean “water Ute” or “true Ute.”
- Monachi, Yokuts name.
- Monozi, Maidu name.
- Mono-Paviotso, name adopted in the Handbook of American Indians (Hodge, 1907, 1910), from an abbreviated form of the above and Paviotso.
- Nutaa, Chukehansi Yokuts name, signifying that they were east or upstream.
- Paviotso, a native term applied by Powell (1891) to a part of the Nevada Indians of this group.
- Snake, name commonly given to the Northern Paiute of Oregon.
Northern Paiute Location
The Northern Paiute were not properly a tribe, the name being used for a dialectic division as indicated above. They covered western Nevada, southeastern Oregon, and a strip of California east of the Sierra Nevada as far south as Owens Lake except for territory occupied by the Washo. According to the students of the area, they were pushed out of Powder River Valley and the upper course of John Day River in the nineteenth century by Shahaptian tribes and the Cayuse.
Northern Paiute Villages
There were no true tribes or bands except in the extreme western and north-eastern parts of the area covered, but topography enforced concentration into certain valleys. Aside from the detached Bannock, the Northern Paiute were divided by the Sierra Nevada Mountains into a widely spread eastern division and a small division confined to California, the Eastern and Western Mono of Kroeber.
Kroeber (1925) distinguishes six divisions of the latter as follows:
- Balwisha, on the Kaweah River, especially on its south side.
- Holkoma, on a series of confluent streamsof which Big Burr and Sycamore Creeks are the most important, entering Kings River above Mill Creek.
- Northfork Mono, for whom no native name has survived, on the North Fork of San Joaquin River.
- Posgisa or Poshgisha, of the San Joaquin, on Big Sandy Creek, and toward, if not on, the heads of Little and Big Dry Creeks.
- Waksachi, on Limekiln and Eshom Creeks and the North Fork of Kaweah River.
- Wobonuch, at the head of Mill Creek, a southern affluent of Kings River, and in the pine ridges to the north.
Away from Owens Valley and the immediate neighborhood the Paiute have been divided into a large number of bands with names which usually signify that they were “eaters” of some particular kind of food. Although the entire area has been filled in with such names, they have been given largely by Indians from areas outside those of the supposed bands; different names are given by different informants, the same name occurs in a number of places, at times widely separated, and there is lack of agreement among informants, including Steward (1933), Kelly (1937), Park (1938), and Blyth (1938), as to the numbers, names, and locations of the groups under consideration.
Instead of attempting any sort of classification, therefore, I will simply insert a miscellaneous list of villages and local settlements though these were almost as fluctuating and impermanent as the larger groups. In most cases, however, it may be assumed that the location was determined by economic factors and mention of such a site has, therefore, some permanent value however often the name may have changed or the composition of the village fluctuated.
Gifford (1932) gives the following hamlets belonging to Kroeber’s Northfork Mono besides 83 fishing places and campsites, (the exact locations of which are entered in his report and accompanying map):
Steward enumerates the following “districts” of Owens Valley and neighboring valleys, each with communistic hunting and seed rights, political unity, and a number of villages:
- Kwina patü, Round Valley.
- Panatü, the Black Rock territory, south to Taboose Creek.
- Pitana patü, extending from the volcanic tableland and Norton Creek in the Sierra to a line running out into Owens Valley from Waucodayavi, the largest creek south of Rawson Creek.
- Tovowahamatü, centering at Big Pine, south to Big Pine Creek in the mountains, but with fishing and seed rights along Owens River nearly to Fish Springs. Tunuhu witü, of uncertain limits.
- Utü’ütü witü, from the warm springs, now Keough’s, south to Shannon Creek.
The people of Deep Springs Valley called their valley Patosabaya and themselves Patosabaya nunemua; the Fish Lake Valley people to the north of these did not constitute a unified band but were distributed into the following villages:
- Ozanwin, on the east or south slope of the Sylvania Mountains and near Tu’nava. Pau’uva, in the vicinity of McNett ranch.
- Sohodtihatü, at the present Oasis ranch. Suhuyoi, at the Patterson ranch.
- Tuna’va, the present Geroux ranch, marked McFee on the United States Geological Survey.
- Tt’nava, at Pigeon Spring at the east end of Fish Lake Valley. Watuhad, Moline ranch on Moline Creek.
- Yogamatü, several miles from the mountains at the present Chiatovich ranch.
Steward (1933) gives the following village names in and near Owens Valley:
- An unnamed site west of Deep Springs Lake.
- Ahagwa, on Division Creek.
- Antelope Springs, native name not recorded.
- Hudu matu, on Cottonwood Creek.
- Hunadudugo, camp near Wyman Creek.
- Ka’nasi, camp at Dead Horse Meadow on Wyman Creek.
- Mogahu’ pina, scattered along Hogback, Lone Pine; Tuttle, and Diez Creeks.
- Mogohopinan watu, on Richter Creek. Muhu witu, on Tinnemaha Creek.
- Nataka’ matu, at Independence.
- Nuvahu’ matu, near Thibaut Creek.
- Oza’n witu, southeast of Deep Springs Lake.
- Padohahu matu, on Goodale Creek.
- Pahago watu, on Tuttle Creek.
- Pakwazi’ natu, at Olancha.
- Pa’natu, on Owens River, near mouth of Birch Creek.
- Pau’wahapu, at Hines Spring.
- Pawona witu, on Bishop Creek below Bishop.
- Pa’yapo’o’ha, south of Bishop.
- Pazi wapi’nwuna, at Independence.
- Posi’da witu, on Baker Creek.
- Suhubadopa, at Fish Springs Creek, at least in prehistoric times.
- Suhu’budu mutu, on Carroll Creek.
- Suhuvakwazi natu, on Wyman Creek.
- Tanova witu, south of Independence.
- Ti’numaha witu, on Tinnemaha Creek.
- To’owiawatu, at Symmes Creek.
- Totsitupi, on Thibaut Creek.
- To’vowaha’matu, at Big Pine on Big Pine Creek.
- Tsagapu witu, at Shepherd Creek.
- Tsaki’shaduka, near Old Fort Independence.
- Tsaksha witu, at Fort Independence.
- Tsa’wawua’a, on Bishop Creek.
- Tsigoki, beyond Owens ranch, east of Bishop.
- Tuhunitogo, near upper course of Birch Creek.
- Tuinu’hu, on Sawmill Creek.
- Tunwa’pu, at the mouth of Taboose Creek.
- Tupico, on Birch Creek, west of Hunadudugo.
- Tupuzi witu, at George’s Creek.
- Waushova witu, on Lone Pine Creek.
- Steward gives the following villages in Fish Lake Valley:
- Oza’nwin, on the east or south slope of the Sylvania Mountains and near Tu’nava.
- Pau’uva, in the vicinity of McNett ranch.
- Sohoduhatu, at the present Oasis ranch.
- Suhuyoi, at the Patterson ranch.
- Tuna’ va, at the present Geroux ranch.
- Tu’ nava, at Pigeon Springs at east end of Fish Lake Valley.
- Watuhad, at Moline ranch.
- Yogamatu, several miles from the mountains at the present Chiatovich ranch.
The following are miscellaneous local groups of Northern Paiute, the names drawn from various sources:
- Agaivanuna, at Summit Lake, western Nevada.
- Duhutcyatikadu, on Silver and Summer Lakes, Oreg.
- Genega’s Band, at the mouth of Truckee River
- Gidutikadu, in Surprise, Calif.; Coleman; Warner, Oreg.; and probably also Long Valleys, in California, Nevada, and Oregon.
- Goyatikendu, at Yainax and Beatty, Oreg., brought from Silver Lake.
- Hadsapoke’s Band, at Gold Canyon, Carson River.
- Hoonebooey, east of the Cascades and south of the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
- Itsaatiaga, about Unionville, Nev.
- Kaivaningavidukw, in Surprise Valley, northeastern California.
- Koeats, in north central Nevada.
- Kosipatuwiwagaiyu, about Carson Sink.
- Koyuhow, about McDermitt, Nev.
- Kuhpattikutteh, on Quinn River, Nev.
- Kuyuidika, near the site of Wadsworth on Truckee River.
- Kuyuitikadu, at Pyramid Lake, Nixon, Nev.
- Kwinaduvaa, at McDermitt, Nev.
- Laidukatuwiwait, about the sink of the Humboldt.
- Lohim, an isolated Shoshonean band, probably of this connection, on Willow Creek, a southern affluent of the Columbia, Oreg.
- Loko, on or near Carson River, Nev.
- Nogaie (with 4 subbands), in the vicinity of Robinson District, Spring Valley,
- Duckwater, and White River Valley.
- Odukeo’s Band, around Carson and Walker Lakes.
- Oualuck’s Band, in Eureka Valley, Oreg. Pamitoy, in Mason Valley.
- Paxai-dika, in Bridgeport Valley, Calif. Petodseka, about Carson and Walker Lakes.
- Piattuiabbe (with 5 bands), near Belmont, Nev.
- Pitanakwat or Petenegowat, in Owens Valley, but formerly in Esmeralda County, Nev.
- Poatsituhtikuteh, on the north fork of Walker River.
- San Joaquin’s Band, at the forks in Carson Valley.
- Sawagativa, about Winnemucca.
- Shobarboobeer, probably of this connection, in the interior of Oregon.
- Shuzavi-dika, in Mono Valley, Calif.
- Togwingani, about Malheur Lake, Oreg.
- Tohaktivi, about the White Mountains, near the head of Owens River, Calif. Toitikadu, at Fallon and Yerington, Nev.
- Toiwait, about the lower Sink of the Carson.
- Tonawitsowa (with 6 bands), in the vicinity of Battle Mountain and Unionville Tonoyiet’s Band, below Big Meadows, Truckee River.
- Torepe’s Band, near the lower crossing of Truckee River.
- Tosarke’s Band, near Carson and Walker Lakes.
- Tsapakah, in Smith Valley.
- Tubianwapu, about Virginia City.
- Tubuwitikadu, east of Steens Mountain, Oreg.
- Tupustikutteh, on Carson River.
- Tuziyammos, about Warner Lake, Oreg.
- Wahi’s Band, at the big bend of Carson River.
- Wadatikadu, at Burns, Malheur District, Oregon, and Susanvi!le, Calif.
- Wahtatkin, east of the Cascade Mountains and south of the Blue Mountains,OR
- Walpapi, on the shores of Goose, Silver, Warner, and Barney Lakes, Oreg. Warartika, about Honey Lake, northeastern California.
- Watsequeorda’s Band, on Pyramid Lake.
- Winemucca’s Band, said to have had a specific location on Smoke Creek near Honey Lake, northeastern California, but to have been extended to other northern Paiute living west of the Hot Springs Mountains in Nevada, who do not seem to have been united into one body until brought together to defend themselves against the Whites.
- Wobonuch, at the head of Mill Creek, California, and in the pine ridges to the north.
- Yahuskin, about the shores of Goose, Silver, and Harney Lakes, Oreg. Yammostuwiwagaiya, in Paradise Valley, Nev.
Northern Paiute History
Although the territory of the Northern Paiute has been occupied for a long period by human beings and has been modified from time to time along its margins by neighboring cultures, there seem to have been few fundamental changes in the culture of the region taken as a whole, the economic life having been based on hunting and gathering.
Contacts with Europeans began at a comparatively late period, probably with the entrance of trappers about 1825. Jedediah Smith made journeys across Nevada in 1825 and Old Greenwood may have visited it still earlier. Peter Skene Ogden visited the Paiute of eastern Oregon between 1826 and 1828 and probably reached Humboldt River in Nevada.
These men were followed by Walker (1833), Russell (1834-43), and many others.
During this period relations with the Indians seem to have been uniformly friendly, but clashes became more numerous with the great stream of immigration which began about 1840 and swelled to tidal proportions with the discovery of gold in California. The Paiute in the remote valleys, however, remained for a long time little affected.
Descriptions of Indian life in the numerous reports of travelers are disappointing. A great crisis in the affairs of the Indians was brought about by the discovery of the Comstock lode at Virginia City, Nevada, since in the next 10 years prospectors penetrated every part of the territory, says Steward, “and boom towns sprang up in the midst of sheer desert.”
A greater menace to the lives of the Indians was the introduction of livestock and consequent destruction of native food plants. Pinyon trees were also cut down for fuel.
By this time the natives had both guns and horses and were much more capable of inflicting damage in the clashes which began about 1860 and several military posts were established. With the completion of the first trans-continental railroad in 1869, the native period came practically to an end.
On October 1, 1863, the United States Government extended its authority without formal purchase over the territory of the “Western Shoshoni” and included within it the northern part of the lands occupied by the Northern Paiute under discussion.
The Government assumed “the right of satisfying their claim by assigning them such reservations as might seem essential for their occupancy, and supplying them in such degree as might seem proper with necessaries of life” (Royce, 1899).
By virtue of the authority thus granted, a mill and timber reserve was created on Truckee River by Executive order, April 24, 1864, for the Pyramid Lake Indians. In December 1864 Eugene Monroe surveyed a reservation for the Paiute at Walker River, and in January 1865 he surveyed another at Pyramid Lake. The former was set aside by Executive order March 19, 1874, and the latter 4 days later.
“The remainder of the Pai Ute country,” says Royce, “[was] taken possession of by the United States without formal relinquishment by the Indians.” On the other hand, the Indians by no means confined themselves to these reservations.
Northern Paiute Population
Mooney (1928) estimated that this division, i. e., the tribes embraced under the name of Northern Paiute, and the true or Southern Paiute numbered 7,500 in 1845. The figures given in the Report of the Indian Office for 1903 indicate a population of about 5,400 for the group. The Census of 1910 reports 1,448 “Mono” and 3,038 Paviotso, a total of 4,486, but the United States Indian Office Report of 1923 seems to give a total of more than 13,000. This is evidently erroneous. The United States Census of 1930 reported 4,420. The figures of the United States Indian Office in 1937 seem to yield 4,108, after subtracting 270, which plainly belonged to the Southern Paiute.