Collection Description

Culture Name

Northern Paiute

Culture Description

Traditionally the Northern Paiute were located in the Great Basin region in western Nevada, northeastern California, southwestern Idaho, and central and eastern Oregon, but as of the late twentieth century are now found primarily around Tama, Idaho. Hunting, fishing and gathering were the primary subsistence activities, but by the late twentieth century ranching and wage labor also formed an important part of the economy. The nuclear and extended family is the basic unit of social organization along with the kindred and the camp group of which each family was part. Religion was based on shamanism for the purpose of curing and weather control, with sorcery or the threat of sorcery used as a means of social control.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures Collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Northern Paiute, often referred to as “Paviotso,” occupy a vast area of territory in southeastern Oregon, western Idaho, northeastern California, and northwestern Nevada.

The NR13 Northern Paiute collection covers a wide range of historical documents covering a time span from approximately the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth, with major emphasis on the Owens Valley, Honey Lake, Harney Valley, Surprise Valley, and Pyramid Lake Paiute from the mid-19th century to the 1870s. More recent material focuses on Tama Idaho, from about 1870 to the end of the 20th century. Although primarily based on secondary source material, Fowler (1986, no, 16) presents a general overall coverage of Northern Paiute ethnography, supplemented by data in Kelly (1934, no. l1), Whiting (1950, no. 7), and Riddell (1960, no. 15). Other ethnographic topics discussed in this collection are: polyandry in Park (1937, no. 8); shamans and shamanism in Park (1938, no. 11), and Olofson (1979, no. 17); boat and house construction in Wheat (1959, no. 10); and the fishing complex of the Pyramid Lake Paiute in Fowler (1981, no. 18).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citation preceding each document.

Overview by

Jan A. Simpson

Haba –sixpole flatroofed shade– Use OUTBUILDINGS ( 343) and/or DWELLINGS ( 342)

Kahni –winter houses– Use DWELLINGS ( 342)

Kani (nobi) –domeshaped, matcovered (winter) house– Use DWELLINGS ( 342)

Kwasʹi –calflength dresses of buckskin– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291)

Kusa –leggings– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291)

Nakwi –single or double aprons worn by women– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291)

Nadikawi –a puberty observance for boys– Use PUBERTY AND INITIATION ( 881)

Nanimi –kindred– Use LINEAGES ( 613)

Nogadi –individual households or camp groups– Use HOUSEHOLD ( 592) and/or COMMUNITY STRUCTURE ( 621)

Poinabi –headmen of local campgrounds– Use COMMUNITY HEADS ( 622)

Puha –supernatural power– Use SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES ( 778)

Puhagami –shamans– Use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756)

Sasinubi –breechclout– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291)

Tibiwa –home tract or district– Use DISTRICTS ( 634) and/or TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631)

Tima –closetwined trays– Use MATS AND BASKETRY ( 285) and UTENSILS ( 415)

Topada –loin cloth– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291)

Tribal councils Use CONSTITUTION ( 642) and/or CHIEF EXECUTIVE ( 643)

Winasu –hairbrushes– Use GENERAL TOOLS ( 412)

Indexing Notes by

Jan A. Simpson

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