Mammoth Lakes History & Museums: Paiute Indians of California

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Paiute Indians

The Paiute Indians of California have been part of the fabric of the Eastern Sierra Mountain area for eons. They once made their living by hunting and gathering and by irrigating lands in order to support edible plants. Today, more than 2,000 Pauite Indians still live in the Mammoth Lakes region. Read More

The western United States was once home to a vast variety of Native American tribes and many descendents of those tribes still live in the West. The Paiute Indians were just one of those tribes.

Actually, the term "Paiute" refers to three groups of Native Americans; the Owens Valley Paiute and Northern Paiute occupied the land which is now California, particularly the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. The Southern Paiute resided on the Colorado Plateau, where it meets the Great Basin in the southwestern corner of the state of Utah.

The languages of the Paiute Indians of California are Uto-Aztecan, one of the largest and most well-established linguistic families of the Americas, both in geographical area and number of languages.

The culture of the Paitue Indians continues today. Presently, more than 2,200 Owens Valley Paiutes live on the Benton, Bishop, Big Pine, Lone Pine, and Fort Independence reservations, and about 150 Northern Paiutes live in the Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony, on the Cedarville Rancheria, and on the Fort Bidwell Reservation.

Some Paiute Indian reservations sponsor business ventures such as casinos. For example, visitors can find the Paiute Palace and Indian Reservation Casino at the Bishop, California Reservation.