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The Paiutes or Piutes pronounced PIE-oot included many different bands spread out over a vast region They are recognized as some of the North American Indian tribes They are usually organized into two groups for study the Northern Paiutes and the Southern Paiutes The northern branch occupied territory that is now northwestern Nevada southeastern Oregon southwestern Idaho and northeastern California The southern branch lived in territory now part of western Utah southern Nevada northwestern Arizona and southeastern California The Northern and Southern Paiutes spoke varying dialects of the Uto-Aztecan language family related to the Shoshone dialect The name Paiute is thought to mean true Ute or Water Ute also indicating and ancestral relationship with the Ute Indians of Utah The Paiute are one of the best-known peoples of the Intermountain Great Basin area Some Paiutes were nomadic moving from place to place in search of game and wild plant foods For the Paiute bands their activities and whereabouts in the course of a year were dictated by the availability of food They traveled a great deal constructing temporary huts of brush and reeds strewn over willow poles known as wickiups which were similar to Apache dwellings The first plant food available in the springtime was the cattail growing in marsh ponds The Indians ate the shoots raw Other wild plant foods--roots and greens--soon followed Spring was also a good time to hunt ducks in ponds on the birds migration northward and in the highlands to the north the Great Basin to fish the rivers and streams during annual spawning runs In summertime many more wild plant foods ripened such as berries and rice grass The Indians ground the seeds of the latter into meal In the autumn the primary food was pine nuts The Indians collected them from pinon trees growing on the hills and plateaus rising above the Great Basin In the late fall the Indians returned to the desert lowlands
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