Paiute Indian Culture

Cultural Resources Contact Information:
Paiute Tribe Cultural Resources
440 North Paiute Drive
Cedar City, UT 84721

Phone: (435)-586-1112 x107
Fax: (435)-586-7388

Back to Paiute Culture

American Indian Myths | Personal Appearance | Paiute Archeology | General Attitude | Dancing and the Arts | Eating and Diet | Economy and Commerce | Education | Family | Gestures | Government | Greetings | Health | History | Holidays | Land and Climate | Language | Dating and Marriage | Plants and Animals | Population | Recreation | Religion | Shinny | Paiute Terminology | Transportation and Communications | Events and Trends | Visiting | Source: Southern Paiute Cultural History Curriculum Guide


Paiute Arrowheads

The cultural history of the Monument begins over 12,000 years ago and continues to the present. Very few scientific studies have been conducted within the Monument.

Cultural Resources of the area around the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Reference Cited
U.S. Department of the Interior, Arizona Strip District, Bureau of Land Management, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, National Park Service. January 2007. Proposed Resource Management Plan / Final EIS for the Arizona Strip Field Office, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and the BLM Portion of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and a Proposed General Management Plan / Final EIS for the NPS Portion of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. (pgs. 3-90 – 3-95)

Cultural Time Period Brief Description
PaleoIndian (10,000 – 8,000 BC) Paleo-Indian ancestors may have traveled across the Bering Land Bridge near present-day Alaska at an unspecified time and were some of the first occupants of North America. During this time, people probably traveled in groups gathering wild foods and hunting big-game animals, such as mammoths. They killed their game with spears tipped with distinctive long fluted projectile points called Clovis points. There are very few visible remains of these people because most of their sites were either places where they camped (in natural rock shelters or tents made of hides or brush) or where they killed and processed game. Thus, these types of archeological sites are not well preserved.
The base of a PaleoIndian Clovis point was found at a campsite in the Virgin River Gorge and is the only documented PaleoIndian site in the area. There have also been several unsubstantiated reports of other Clovis points found.
Archaic (7,000 – 600 BC) The Archaic time period was a time of change in people's adaptation to the land. Many of the large game animals living in the area died or moved to other areas. Because of this, people began to rely more extensively on the wide variety of plant resources and smaller game. Instead of following large game in their travels, the people moved according to seasonal availability and ripeness of plants like ricegrass, prickly pear, and piñon nuts. Smaller game animals, such as pronghorn, rabbits, and birds were their primary (meat) protein sources. The tool kits of these people also changed. The spears and points were smaller; and they began to use spear throwers called atlatls. Artifact and site evidence indicates that people routinely returned to the same areas year after year to gather and process plant resources (like grinding seeds with manos and metates). Archaic projectile points associated with open artifact scatters are the primary evidence for Archaic hunters and gatherers, although there may be some cave and shelter sites with Archaic remains still to be investigated. Most of the better-documented sites from this time period are from adjacent areas in the Grand Canyon NP and Glen Canyon NRA. Here split twig figurines and Archaic-style projectile points attest to substantial Archaic occupation. Based on artifacts found, riparian and associated rich ecological zones in and near the Vermilion Cliffs, along the Virgin and Paria rivers, and in Kanab Creek appear to have been densely occupied during both the Archaic and Ancestral Puebloan periods, representing the transition from hunting and gathering to farming societies.
Ancestral Puebloan (600 BC – 1300 AD): The Ancestral Puebloan people occupied the southern part of the Colorado Plateau. The westernmost branch of this group and the least studied and understood is the Virgin Anasazi. The early half of the Ancestral Puebloan period is known as the Basketmaker period while the latter half is known as the Puebloan period.
Basketmaker (600 BC – AD 700) The Basketmaker time period was a time of rapid population growth in the Southwest, primarily because of the introduction and development of farming. Because farming requires planting, care, harvest, and storage of products, people began to settle into more permanent structures, such as pithouses. Pithouses are homes that were built into shallow or deep pits in the ground, roofed with poles tied together, and covered with thick brush and mud. These dwellings were located close to farm lands and contained the tools and features necessary to plant, care for, harvest, cook, and store domesticated corn, beans, squash, and wild plant foods. The term Basketmaker was given to the people living during this time period because of the finely woven baskets found at these types of sites. Their baskets were used for cooking and storing harvested plant and farmed products. Early forms of pottery also were developed during this time period.
Corn cultivation and settled village life began to occur by about 600 BC. Pithouses and storage cists occur in small clusters in both the upland areas and lower river valleys and creek side settings. Later in the period, the Basketmaker group produced brown pottery containing olivine crystal particles, a distinct pottery type for the Arizona Strip.
Puebloan (700-1300 AD) The Puebloan time period saw the continued growth and development of a culture based on farming. People began to construct above ground masonry rooms or pueblos. These rooms were arranged like villages, with storage rooms that housed surplus food, plazas, ceremonial subterranean rooms sometimes referred to as kivas, and outer-lying field houses for shelter and tool storage. During Pueblo times there was also an increase in contact with other people living throughout the Southwest. This contact was primarily in the form of trade - for information, pottery, food, and raw materials.
The Puebloan occupation represents the later Ancestral Puebloan village farmers. Sites include C-shaped villages, granaries, reservoirs, rock art, trails, artifact scatters, and field houses. Kayenta Anasazi people migrated to the area around 1050 AD, bringing with them distinct pottery and architecture, including rectangular villages. By 1300 AD, archeological evidence indicates that the Ancestral Puebloan people left, some migrating to the south and east. Some of the living descendants of the Ancestral Puebloan people can be found on the Hopi Mesas in northeastern Arizona. Others may have migrated elsewhere or may be found in Southern Paiute groups. Archeological evidence does not dispute the fact that some Ancestral Puebloan may have intermarried with Southern Paiute or other local groups during 1150 – 1300 AD.
American Indian Groups (1150 – 1850 AD) The American Indian groups in the area when Euro-American settlers and explorers arrived in the late 1700s and 1800s include the Southern Paiutes, Havasupai, Hualapai, and Navajo or Diné. Linguistic evidence suggests that the Southern Paiutes (Numic speakers) migrated into the area around 1150 AD from southern California and Nevada. Some archeologists believe the Southern Paiute may be descended from the Ancestral Puebloan peoples. By the time of contact with Spanish explorers in 1776 and later Mormon colonists in 1850, Southern Paiute groups occupied the entire area.
Navajo and Apache Indian groups (Athabaskan speakers) arrived from western Canada into New Mexico around 1400 AD. They eventually migrated westward, arriving in their present day locations in north central Arizona and near the area by the time of the Long Walk in 1864. At that time, many Navajos took refuge in the isolated, hidden canyons of northern Arizona to avoid being taken to New Mexico.
Some Havasupai and Hualapai sites have been found on the extreme southern end of the area. These “Pai” groups have occupied the Grand Canyon region for thousands of years.
Resources of Traditional Importance to American Indians Southern Paiute: Various Southern Paiute bands, some no longer existing, occupied the area. Thirteen bands of the Southern Paiutes were originally identified in the post contact period with an additional band added later. These bands exist in contemporary times as eight federally recognized and one unrecognized tribe. Linguistic evidence suggests they first arrived in the area around AD 1150 and had contact with the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition in 1776. Mormon settlers who arrived in 1852 also had contact with the Southern Paiutes. The descendants of the 14 bands are now scattered throughout central and southern Utah, northern Arizona, southern Nevada, and in southern California. Members of all Southern Paiute bands are related and trace their ancestry to family members who once lived on the Arizona Strip. Today, the Kaibab Paiute tribe is the only Southern Paiute band with reservation lands remaining on the Arizona Strip. Members of the Southern Paiute bands still gather firewood, piñon nuts, and plants in the area. The area contains sites considered sacred by Southern Paiutes, including places where water, plants for medicinal and other purposes, animals, and minerals are found.
Hualapai and Havasupai: The southern portions of the area were also home to the Hualapai and Havasupai, although both groups generally claim the Colorado River and areas south as their homeland. Both groups retain some indigenous lands in the Grand Canyon at the Hualapai and Havasupai Reservations south of the area.
Hopi: The area was once home to several Hopi clans, including the Spider, Tobacco, Rabbit, Snake, Sand, Lizard and Sand Strip clans. Other clans have migrated through the area and their descendants now live in villages on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The clans migrated through and lived in the area for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Although the Hopi left the area by AD 1300, traditional use and sacred areas remain.
Navajo or Diné: Navajos occasionally use the area but live primarily on the eastern side of the Colorado River. Individuals from some of the closest Navajo Chapters to the area (Bodaway/Gap, LeChee, Coppermine, Cameron, Tuba City, and Coalmine Canyon) still cross the Colorado River to run businesses such as selling items to tourists, and to gather firewood, herbal plants, and piñon nuts. Some Navajos consider certain places in the area sacred.
European and Euro-American (1776 AD – Present Day)
Spanish/Mexican Exploration and Trading (1776 – 1848) The Dominguez-Escalante Expedition out of Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1776 is the earliest recorded European entry into the Arizona Strip. Spanish Friars Dominguez and Escalante, attempting to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterrey, California, abandoned the effort in central Utah and traveled south entering the area on their way back to Santa Fe. The expedition crossed through the area and documented an encounter with Southern Paiutes at Coyote Spring, now within Vermilion. The Old Spanish Trail also crosses the area and was used extensively by Mexican and American traders between 1829 and 1848. The Spanish brought with them a new religion (Catholicism), the art of silversmithing, and new crops and domesticated animals including fruits such as apricots and animals such as pigs, horses, sheep, goats, and oxen.
Colonization, Ranching, and Mining (1854 – Present Day) Settlement of the Santa Clara Mission by Jacob Hamblin in 1854 initiated Mormon colonization and exploration in southern Utah and northern Arizona. William Maxwell established the first ranch on the Arizona Strip at Short Creek in 1862. This is now Colorado City, AZ. The following year, the communities of Pipe Spring and Millersburg (now Beaver Dam) were both settled. The lands in the area were primarily used for grazing cattle and later for grazing sheep.
The Marble Canyon area was settled by John D. Lee when he established the ferry crossing of the Colorado River (Lees Ferry) and homesteaded at Lonely Dell and Rachel’s (Jacobs) Pool in the early 1870s. With the establishment of the Honeymoon Trail (Old Arizona Road) from Kanab and the crossing at Lees Ferry, Mormon colonists were able to travel across the area en route to other Mormon colonies in central and southern Arizona and back to the Temple in St. George.
Construction of the first Mormon temple west of the Mississippi began in St. George, Utah in 1871. Ponderosa pine logs for temple construction were cut at Mt. Trumbull and hauled along the Temple Trail wagon road some 68 miles north to St. George.
Passage of the Homestead Dry Farming Act in 1909 and the Stock Raising Homestead Act in 1916 encouraged additional farming and ranching in the area at various locales including Cactus Flats, later known as Mt. Trumbull, which was settled by Abraham Bundy and his son Roy in 1916. Mining for copper, silver, and gold occurred in the area from the 1870s to the 1940s primarily in the Grand Gulch area but also at Copper Mountain. World War II began an era of uranium mining in the area. During the 1950s and again in the 1980s several uranium mines were opened and operated on Kanab Plateau. World declines in the uranium market in the late 1980s lowered uranium prices and the mining operations were put on hold. In 2006, rising prices for uranium caused a resurgence of uranium mining. Gypsum is presently mined south of St. George in the Arizona Strip. Mining is not permitted within the Monument.(est. January 11, 2000)