Northern Paiute is a tribe that has traditionally lived in the Great Basin in eastern California, western Nevada, and southeast Oregon. The Northern Paiutes' pre-contact lifestyle was well adapted to the harsh desert environment in which they lived. Each tribe or band occupied a specific territory, generally centered on a lake or wetland that supplied fish and water-fowl. Communal hunt drives, which often involved neighboring bands, would take rabbits and pronghorn from surrounding areas. Individuals and families appear to have moved freely among the bands.
They gathered Pinyon nuts in the mountains in the fall as a critical winter food source. Women also gathered grass seeds and roots as important parts of their diet. The name of each band was derived from a characteristic food source. For example, the people at Pyramid Lake were known as the Cui Ui Ticutta (meaning "Cui-ui eaters," or trout eaters). The people of the Lovelock area were known as the Koop Ticutta, meaning "ground-squirrel eaters;" and the people of the Carson Sink were known as the Toi Ticutta, meaning "tule eaters." The Kucadikadi of Mono County, California are the "brine fly eaters."
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 or Sosone. Relations with the Waasseoo or Washoe people, who were culturally and linguistically very different, were not so peaceful.
Sustained contact between the Northern Paiute and Euro-Americans began in the early 1840s, although the first contact may have occurred as early as the 1820s. Although the Paiute had adopted the use of horses from other Great Plains tribes, their culture was otherwise then largely unaffected by European influences. As Euro-American settlement of the area progressed, competition for scarce resources increased. Several violent confrontations took place, including the Pyramid Lake War of 1860, Owens Valley Indian War 1861-1864, Snake War 1864-1868; and the Bannock War of 1878. These incidents generally began with a disagreement between settlers and the Paiute (singly or in a group) regarding property, retaliation by one group against the other, and finally counter-retaliation by the opposite party, frequently culminating in the armed involvement of the U.S. Army. Fatalities were much higher among the Paiute due to newly introduced Eurasian infectious diseases, such as smallpox, which were endemic among the Europeans. The Natives had no acquired immunity. Sarah Winnemucca's book Life Among the Piutes (1883) gives a first-hand account of this period, although it is not considered to be wholly reliable.
The government first established the Malheur Reservation for the Northern Paiute in eastern Oregon. It intended to concentrate the Northern Paiute there, but its strategy did not work. Because of the distance of the reservation from the traditional areas of most of the bands, and because of its poor environmental conditions, many Northern Paiute refused to go there. Those that did, soon left. They clung to their traditional lifestyle as long as possible. When environmental degradation of their lands made that impossible, they sought jobs on white farms, ranches or in cities. They established small Indian colonies, where they were joined by many Shoshone and, in the Reno area, Washoe people.
Later, the government created larger reservations at Pyramid Lake and Duck Valley, Nevada. By that time the pattern of small de facto reservations near cities or farm districts, often with mixed Northern Paiute and Shoshone populations, had been established. Starting in the early 20th century, the federal government began granting land to these colonies. Under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, several individual colonies gained federal recognition as independent tribes.
Historic Northern Paiute bands
- Hunipuitöka or Hunipui: "Hunipui-Root-Eaters" or Walpapi: "Mountain People", often called Snake Indians, they lived along Deschutes River, Crooked River and John Day River in Central Oregon. They are federally recognized as part of the Burns Paiute Tribe (The tribe received federal recognition in 1968.).
- Wadadökadö or Wadatika (Waadadikady): "Wada Root and Grass-seed Eaters", also known as Harney Valley Paiute, they controlled about 52,500 square miles (136,000 km2) along the shores of Malheur Lake, between the Cascade Range in central Oregon and the Payette Valley north of Boise, Idaho, as well as in the southern parts of the Blue Mountains in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Powder River, north of the John Day River, southward to the desertlike surroundings of Steens Mountain. They are federally recognized as part of the Burns Paiute Tribe and part of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
- Goyatöka or Yahuskin (Yahooskin): "Crayfish eaters", often called Snake Indians, also known as Upper Sprague River Snakes or even Upper Sprague River Klamath, they lived along the shores of Goose, Silver, Warner and Harney lakes, living along the Sprague River in the area now comprising Lake and Harney counties of Oregon, and hunted in the Klamath Basin, had close ties to the Hunipui and Walpapi. They are federally recognized as part of the Klamath Tribes.
- Koa'aga'itöka: "Salmon Caught in Traps Eaters", they lived in the Snake River Plain. They are federally recognized as part of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
- Kidütökadö, Gidu Ticutta: "Yellow-bellied marmot Eaters" or Gidi'tikadii: "Groundhog Eaters", also called Northern California Paiute or Surprise Valley Paiute, they lived around Goose Lake, in Surprise Valley of northern California and Warner Valley in Oregon, and in the valley along the eastern mountains of the Warner Range along the Oregon-Nevada border to the south to Long Valley and the Lower Lake. They are federally recognized as the Fort Bidwell Indian Community.
- Atsakudökwa tuviwarai, Atsakudokwa Tuviwa ga yu or Atsa-Kudok-Wa: "Those who live in the Red Mesas", they lived in the northwest of Nevada along the Oregon-Nevada border in the Santa Rosa Range, north of the Slumbering Hills, west to the Jackson Mountains, northeast to Disaster Peak and east back to the Santa Rosa Mountains, Quinn River was the most important water resource. They are federally recognized as part of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.
- Sawawaktödö: "Sagebrush Eaters" or Sawakudökwa tuviwarai: "Sagebrush Eaters who live in the mountains", they lived in the Winnemucca area from the Osgood Mountains and the Sonoma Mountains in the east to the Jackson Mountains in the west, from the Slumbering Hills and Santa Rosa Range in the north to Table Mountain Wilderness in the south. They are federally recognized as part of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes and the Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada.
- Yamosöpö tuviwarai or Yamosopu Tuviwa ga yu: "Those who live in Crescent Valley", they lived in Paradise Valley, Nevada, which they called Crescent Valley, as well as in the Santa Rosa Range and along the Little Humboldt River, southward along the Oregon-Nevada border in the Osgoods Mountains. They are federally recognized as part of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes.
- Makuhadökadö or Pauida tuviwarai: they lived around Battle Mountain and Unionville in Nevada, parts of the Humboldt Valley, in the desert valleys of Buena Vista Valley, Pleasant Valley, Buffalo Valley as in the Sonoma and East Mountains. They are federally recognized as Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.
- Moadökadö: "Wild onion Eaters", also known as Agaipaninadökadö or Agai Panina Ticutta ("Lake-fish Eaters", literally "Summit Lake Fish Eaters" or "Trout Lake Fish Eaters"), they lived around Summit Lake (called Agaipaninadi) in Nevada and along the southern border of Idaho east of the Kidütökadö. They are federally recognized as the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada.
- Kamodökadö or Kamu Ticutta: "Hare-Eaters", they lived north of Pyramid Lake in the Smoke Creek and Granite Creek deserts. They are federally recognized as Yerington Paiute Tribe of the Yerington Colony and Campbell Ranch.
- Tövusidökadö, Taboosse Dukadu or Tobusi Ticutta: "Pine nut Eaters", they lived in the mountain foothills of Nevada. They are federally recognized as Yerington Paiute Tribe of the Yerington Colony and Campbell Ranch.
- Pogidukadu, Pogi Dukadu or Poo-zi Ticutta: "Onion Eaters", they are federally recognized as the Yerington Paiute Tribe of the Yerington Colony and Campbell Ranch and Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony of California.
- Tasiget tuviwarai: "Those who live amidst the mountains", they lived in Winnemucca Valley. They are federally recognized as part of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation.
- Kuyuidökadö, Kooyooe Dukadu, Kooyooe Duka'a, Cui Yui Ticutta or Cui-ui Dicutta: "Cui-ui-Fish-Eaters", they lived along the shores of Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River, part of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation.
- Küpadökadö or Koop Ticutta: "Ground squirrel Eaters", they lived along the shores of Lake Humboldt, their territory in the east was limited by the Shoshone people, including the Pahsupp Mountains, Kamma Mountains and Majuba Mountains and the Humboldt River and Sink River. They are federally recognized as Lovelock Paiute Tribe of the Lovelock Indian Colony.
- Toedökadö, Toe Dukadu, Toe Tukadu or Toi Dicutta: "Schoenoplectus acutus (Tule) Eaters", they lived in the Carson Sink. They are federally recognized as part of the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony.
- Aga'idökadö or Agai Dicutta (Agai Ticutta): "Cutthroat trout Eaters", currently residing on the Walker River Indian Reservation.
- Pakwidökadö or Pugwi Ticutta: "Chub carp Eaters", currently residing on the Walker River Indian Reservation.
- Onabedukadu, Onabe Dukadu, Ona Dukadu or Ozav dika: "Salt-Eaters" or ″Alkali Eaters″, also known as auch als Soda Springs Valley Paiute or Coleville Paiute, they lived in California-Nevada-region from Coleville, California in the Antelope Valley to the Monte Cristo Range and the Excelsior Mountains, today part of the Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony of California.
- Tagötöka or Taga Ticutta: "Lomatium dissectum Root Tuber Eaters", they lived along the Jordan River and Owyhee River in Oregon and Idaho. Lomatium dissectum is known as "fernleaf biscuitroot" for its use in baking biscuits and as "desert parsley"; today part of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.
- Tsösö'ödö tuviwarai: "Those who live in the cold", they lived in the surroundings of Steens Mountain in Oregon.
- Qui na taue Pha Numa: ″People of the Big Smoky Valley“, lived between the Toiyabe Range and Toquima Range in Nevada, today part of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation.
- A'waggoo Dukadu: ″Those who eat suckers″, they lived in the Bridgeport Valley, California, therefore also known as Bridgeport Paiute, today part of the Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony of California.
- Way Dukadu: ″Rye grass Eaters″, they lived in the Bridgeport Valley, California, therefore also known as Bridgeport Paiute, today part of the Bridgeport Paiute Indian Colony of California.
- Kutsavidökadö, Koodzabe Duka'a or Kucadikadi: "Ephydridae (Brine fly) Larvae Eaters", also called Mono Lake Paiute or the Western Mono. The name "Mono" derives from Monoache or Monache, "Fly larvae Eaters", the designation used by the Yokuts for the Kucadikadi. They are federally recognized as Big Sandy Rancheria, Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, Table Mountain Rancheria and Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation.
Northern Paiute tribes
These are federally recognized tribes with significant Northern Paiute populations:
- Burns Paiute Tribe of the Burns Paiute Indian Colony of Oregon, Burns, Oregon
- Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Oregon
- Fort Bidwell Indian Community of the Fort Bidwell Reservation of California, Fort Bidwell Indian Reservation, California
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, Southeastern Idaho—descendants of the Lemhi, Boise Valley, Bruneau, Weiser and other bands of Northern Shoshone and Bannock with the Northern Paiute Koa'aga´itöka band
- Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes of the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, Nevada and Oregon
- Klamath Tribes, includes the Yahooskin Band of Paiute, Chiloquin, Oregon
- Lovelock Paiute Tribe of the Lovelock Indian Colony, Lovelock, Nevada
- Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of the Fallon Reservation and Colony, Fallon, Nevada (The Fallon Indian Reservation is also known as Stillwater)
- Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation, Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, Nevada
- Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Reno, Nevada
- Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation, Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Nevada and Owyhee County, Idaho
- Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada, Summit Lake Indian Reservation, Nevada
- Walker River Paiute Tribe of the Walker River Reservation, Walker River Indian Reservation, Nevada
- Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada, Winnemucca, Nevada
- XL Ranch, Alturas, California
- Yerington Paiute Tribe of the Yerington Colony and Campbell Ranch, Yerington, Nevada
- Cedarville Rancheria Northern Paiute Tribe, Alturas, California
- Susanville Indian Rancheria, Susanville, California
Notable Northern Paiutes
- Nellie Charlie, basketweaver
- Egan, 19th century warring chief
- Chief Paulina, war leader, died 1868
- Tau-gu, late 19th century chief
- Lucy Telles, award-winning basketweaver, c. 1885–1955
- Chief Tenaya, leader of the Ahwahnees
- Truckee, 17th/18th century medicine chief
- Wahveveh, war chief, died 1866
- Chief Winnemucca, died 1882
- Sarah Winnemucca, c. 1841—1891
- Wovoka, prophet and founder of the Ghost Dance
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California 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. Others put the total Northern Paiute population in 1859 at about 6,000.