The Paiute/Piute were an importan tribal group in the Great Basin and would be primarily included in the Southwestern cultural area rather than the California area, although their range included eastern California. The Paiute are often divided into two related groups, the Northern and Southern Paiute.
The Norrther Paiute lived in what is now California, Nevada and Oregon. The Southern Paiute were found in Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah. Both Paiute groups spoke languages (Northern Paiute and Ute-Southern Paiute) belonging to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family, but are not as closely related as with other Numic languages. The relationship between the Northern and Souther Paiute is primarily linguistic and cultural and not necesarily political or ethnic. Several small tribes (Bannock, Mono, Timbisha and Kawaiisu) are related to the Paiute and other associated tribes. The origin of the word Paiute is disputed. These were relativey small tribes. The Northern Paiute may have been no larger than 6,000 people. The Southern Paiute were the first to come into contact with Europeans, Spanish missionries (1776). They suffered from slave raids by the Navajo and Utes and the Spanish made matters worse. The Mormos ended the practice, but took control of water sources. The Northern Paiutes encountered Europans, mostly after the California Gold Rush. Bothe Paute groups suffered from exposure to European diseases. The Paiute War was a series of raids and ambushes initiated by the Paiute pressured by American encroachments (May-June 1860). One result was the creation of the Pony Express which had an effect on the development of the Pony Express.
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