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Either of two distinct American Indian groups living mostly in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, U.S. Their languages belong to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family. Their name for themselves is Numa. The Southern Paiute occupied southern Utah, northwestern Arizona, southern Nevada, and southeastern California. The Northern Paiute occupied east-central California, western Nevada, and eastern Oregon. Both groups were primarily food collectors who subsisted on wild plant foods supplemented by small game. They occupied temporary brush shelters, used rabbit-skin clothing, and made baskets for food gathering. Most Paiute were organized in loosely knit bands with fluid membership; those in areas with plentiful water organized more formally. Most Paiute were directed onto reservations in the 19th century. Early 21st-century population estimates indicated approximately 17,000 individuals of Paiute descent. See alsoUte; Wovoka.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Paiute, visit Britannica.com.