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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Historical Memory and Ethnographic Perspectives on the Southern Paiute Homeland


We address the position maintained by contemporary Numic-speaking people (also Numu) that they have occupied the Great Basin and western Colorado Plateau since time immemorial. During this time they have learned about the land and become who they are today. Ethnohistoric and ethnographic data on the Southern Paiute are used to examine the Numic in situ development theory. Key issues in this argument are: (1) lack of a conquest story in their oral traditions; (2) the presence of optimal irrigated agriculture as recorded at the time of European contact; and (3) complex interethnic connections with neighboring groups. We propose that Numu people's perceptions of their land and ancestors may be taken as points of departure for formulating central hypotheses that address their origins and development.

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