October 21, 2004

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation


The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation are Northern Paiutes. Much of the economy on the Pyramid Lake Reservation is centered around fishing and recreational activities at Pyramid Lake. In addition to permit fees for fishing, day use and overnight camping, the Tribe also receives lease revenue, and tax revenue. Several Tribal members belong to the Pyramid Lake Cattleman’s Cooperative Association and the Association utilizes the reservation desert open range to operate and manage the individual cattle herds.

Official Tribal Name: Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation


Official Website: Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Numu, (sometimes written Numa) meaning The People

Kuyuidokado – Pyramid Lake Paiutes

Common Name: Pyramid Lake Paiutes

Meaning of Common Name:

The origin of the word Paiute is unclear. Some anthropologists have interpreted it as “Water Ute” or “True Ute.”

Alternate names / Alternate spellings: Northern Paiute, Paviotso

Name in other languages:

“Cuiyui Ticutta”, name other Paiutes and Shoshones used to refer to the Pyramid Lake Band, which means cuiui eaters (a large sucker fish found in Pyramid Lake)

Payuchi , a name used by early Spanish explorers. (They did not make contact with the Northern Paiute.)

Diggers, a term used by early settlers (referring to their habit of digging for roots – considered a derogatory term by Paiute peoples)

Region: Great Basin

State(s) Today: Nevada

Traditional Territory:

Confederacy: Paiute


Reservation: Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribes’ Reservation is located thirty five miles northeast of Reno, Nevada in a remote desert area located in the counties of Washoe, Lyon, and Storey.

The area of the reservation contains 475,000 acres or 742.2 square miles. Out of this acreage approximately 112,000 acres cover the surface of a terminal desert lake, Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is approximately 15 miles long by 11 miles wide, and reaches depths of 350 feet.

Population at Contact:

Estimates for the pre-contact populations of all Northern Paiute bands have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber thought that the 1770 population of the Northern Paiute within California was 500. He estimated their population in 1910 as 300.Othersput the total Northern Paiute population in 1859 at about 6,000.

Registered Population Today:

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe had approx. 2,253 enrolled members in 1993. About 88% of enrolled tribal members reside on the reservation, and approximately 12% reside in other areas throughout the Western United States.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Enrollment Committee meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month.

Genealogy Resources:


Charter: The tribe operates under the Indian Reorganization Act Constitution and By-Laws approved on January 26, 1936 by the Department of Interior.

Name of Governing Body: Tribal Council.
Number of Council members: The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is governed by 10 Tribal Council members. Dates of Constitutional amendments: Executive Order 13084 of May 14, 1998.
Number of Executive Officers:


Council members are elected bi-annually in December and on staggered two year terms.

Language Classification:

Language Dialects:

Number of fluent Speakers:


Origins: Pyramid Lake Paiutes Origin Story: Stone Mother

Bands, Gens, and Clans:

Related Tribes:

Duck Valley Paiute |Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe | Fort Independence Paiute | Ft. McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe | Goshute Confederated Tribes | Kaibab Band of Paiute | Las Vegas Paiute Tribe | Lovelock Paiute Tribe | Moapa River Reservation | Reno/Sparks Indian Colony | Summit Lake Paiute Tribe | Winnemucca Colony | Walker River Paiute Tribe | Yerington Paiute Tribe

Traditional Allies:

Relations among the Northern Paiute bands and their Shoshone neighbors were generally peaceful. There is no sharp distinction between the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone.

Traditional Enemies:

Relations with the Washoe people, who were culturally and linguistically very different, were not so peaceful.

Ceremonies / Dances:

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Annual Sacred Visions Pow Wow held on third weekend in July (4th Annual)

4th Annual Sacred Visions Pow-Wow will be held in Wadsworth, Nevada on July 20-22, 2012. Wadsworth Nevada is part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. This event is free to the public with many craft and food vendors to enjoy. This powwow features traditional dance and music and native arts, crafts, and food vendors.

Pyramid Lake Sprint Triathlon
On August 6, the USA Triathlon-sanctioned Pyramid Lake Sprint Triathlon includes a half-mile swim, 14-mile bike ride, and three-mile run.

Paiute Legends / Oral Stories

Stone Mother

Art & Crafts:





Economy Today

Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation Paiute Spring Roundup
Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation Paiute Spring Roundup via Wikimedia

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has a 56% employment rate and a 44% unemployment rate. The economy centers primarily around fishing and tourism activities on Pyramid Lake. A few tribal members raise cattle on the open range on the reservation.

The tribe operates a grocery / gift shop / sporting goods store, campgrounds, an RV Park, and issues fishing permits.

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs



Paiute People of Note

  • Egan, 19th century warrior
  • Chief Paulina, war leader, died 1868
  • Tau-gu, late 19th century chief
  • Chief Tenaya, leader of the Ahwahnees
  • Truckee, 17th/18th century medicine chief
  • Wahveveh, war chief, died 1866
  • Wovoka, prophet and founder of the Ghost Dance
  • Nellie Charlie, basketweaver
  • Lucy Telles, award-winning basketweaver, c. 1885–1955
  • Sarah Winnemucca, c. 1841-1891

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

In the News:

Further Reading:

US Tribes N to P
About Raven SiJohn

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