Anasazi & Paiutes Early Southern Utah History

Anasazi Indians & Paiute Indians of Southern Utah

Early History of Southern Utah

Anasazi Indians:

The first known inhabitants of the southern Utah region were the Anasazi Indians   Ancient Ones), who entered the region around 200 B.C. and left around 1200 A.D. The  reason for their disappearance is unknown. They left dwellings, rock-art and other evidence of their 1,000 year existence in the southwest.

Paiute Indians:

It is generally agreed that the Paiute Indians of Southwestern Utah entered the region between 1100 and 1200 A.D. The Paiutes were and are a relatively small tribe made up of several different bands (generally a few hundred people in each band), each with their own names and leaders.

Traditionally the Paiutes survived by foraging for seeds, roots, berries and nuts and by hunting for deer, rabbits, mountain sheep and other animals. Along the banks of rivers, through irrigation, the Paiutes raised corn, wheat, melons, squash and various other vegetables.

Like other tribes, the Paiutes frequently migrated from lower to higher elevations depending on the season, following weather patterns and food sources.

Legends among the Paiutes centered around the Wolf, Coyote and other animals who were involved in the creation and various other aspects of history and life.

Indians from the much larger and aggressive Ute and Navajo tribes raided the Paiute settlements, stealing possessions in addition to women and children who were sold or traded into slavery.

The first known contact of Europeans and Paiutes was recorded by the Spanish Dominguez-Escalante group, who passed through southwestern Utah in 1676. Later trappers and emigrants passed through the region with the eventual permanent settlement of St. George by Mormon Pioneers in 1861.

In the late 19th century, the Paiute Bands in southern Utah coalesced into five Bands: the Shivwits Band, Indian Peaks Band, Kanosh Band. Koosharem Band and Cedar Band. Reservations were established between 1903 and 1929 for all but the Cedar Band whom the federal government overlooked. In 1954, the Bands were terminated from federal recognition, with the exception of the Cedar Band who received no federal assistance and consequently suffered de facto termination. The Tribe became ineligible for any federal assistance for 26 years.

The results of termination which the tribe experienced between 1954 and 1980 had devastating social and economic consequences. Nearly one-half of all tribal members died during this period for lack of health resources and lack of adequate income to meet their needs. About 15,000 acres of former reservation lands were lost, primarily due to the inability to pay property taxes. Pride and culture diminished dramatically.

In 1975, the Paiute Tribe began their efforts to gain federal recognition once again. On April 3, 1980 by an Act of Congress, (via “The Paiute Restoration Act, P.L. 96-227”) the federal trust relationship was restored to the five Bands which constitutes the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. All five Bands became federally recognized.

Four years later Congress passed “The Paiute Reservation Plan” in order to recover lands lost due to termination. A new reservation land base was added in 1984 with the return of 4,800 acres of BLM land (out of 15,000 ac. lost). The original lands lost were not included. The lands are small parcels and undeveloped. The selection of these lands was based on their economic potential and as a result most of them are located along I-15 and I-70. As a compromise, the Paiute Tribe agreed to a $2.5 million irrevocable trust fund to be set up to assist the Tribe in Economic Development and Tribal Government. The Paiute Tribe is only allowed to use the interest off this Trust. It took the Paiute Tribe nine years to accomplish this task and it took the federal government less than a year to accomplish theirs. In 1983 the majority of tribal members had access to adequate housing and health care, although chronic health problems, low educational attainment, underemployment and alcoholism persist.

Even though the Shivwits Band was given their reservation back, most all of the water rights had been sold off and dams had been constructed up stream for other communities use and agricultural purposes which leaves them very little to use for farming and raising crops as they had in the past.  The lack of water rights means they do not have adequate amounts of culinary water for the majority of them to stay and build homes and businesses.

For more information on the Paiute Indian Tribe visit:

http://www.utahpaiutes.org/