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.
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
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.
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