The Kaibab Paiute

Published on August 29, 2013 by Amy

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The Kaibab Paiute
The Kaibab Paiute

The Kaibab Paiute are a member of the larger Southern Paiute Nation which covers along the southern Great Basin and San Juan-Colorado River drainage. The 240 members of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe speak a Uto-Aztecan language, in addition to English. The median age of tribal members is 25.7 years.

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The Kaibab Paiute can trace their ancestry back over 10,000 years to the Desert Culture. At that time, the Great Basin of the Southwest dried up and the Kaibab Paiute strategy changed from big game hunting to small game hunting and plant gathering. About 1150 C.E. the Kaibab Paiute extended their geographic range to further into the Colorado Plateau.

1776 marked the arrival of Spanish explorers into Kaibab Paiute lands. The Kaibab Paiute were often sold as slaves to the Spanish by other predatory tribes.

Around 1863, Mormon settlers began to move into the Kaibab Paiute homeland and establish ranches around Kaibab Paiute water sources, thus controlling access. Eventually the Kaibab Paiute were no longer able to get water from small springs and wells for their farms. When the natural water flow was diverted from native farmlands, the plants used for food died and the animals moved on. The Kaibab Paiute began to starve and were forced to move to small camps near the Mormon settlements and take small jobs for food. This was a very big change for the Kaibab Paiute, and over the next 20 years the tribe lost about 90 percent of their population.

The Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation, located on the Arizona Strip in Northern Arizona, is located about 50 miles north of the Grand Canyon. The reservation lands total 120,840 acres and straddle Coconino and Mohave counties. Elevations range from 4400 feet to over 7000 feet above sea level, spanning semi-arid to alpine environments. The reservation is surrounded by small communities including the Arizona towns of Fredonia and Colorado City as well as Kanab, Utah. The reservation itself includes five villages: Kaibab, Juniper Estates, Steamboat, Six-Mile, and Redhills. A vast majority of the reservation land is undeveloped.

The Kaibab Paiute reservation was established May 28, 1909, on land that contains many valuable minerals. The tribe has struggled to get fair compensation for our mineral resources. The Kaibab Paiute have set goals to achieve sufficient economic growth to offer employment opportunities to any member of the tribe who wants to live and work on the reservation. The tribe is governed by a tribal chairperson and a council of six representatives, and the tribal government seat is located in Fredonia, Arizona. The Kaibab Paiute are dedicated to preserving the natural resources of their land as well as their culture.

Most of the businesses on the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation are owned and operated by the tribe, and include a visitor’s center at Pipe Spring National Monument (operated jointly with the National Park Service) and a convenience store/gas station which the tribe operates along with an RV park and campground. The tribe is also involved in agriculture, and owns a 1,300 tree fruit orchard.

Because of its location in scenic northern Arizona, the Kaibab Paiute economy centers largely on tourism and the livestock industry. The only labor-intensive industry on the reservation is the tribal government, which also serves as the major employer.

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