Deeply grounded in their environment, the Northern Paiutes believe that power (pooha) resides in natural objects such as animals, plants and geographical features. This strong connection to the environment is evident in the names of different bands. For example, Pyramid Lake Paiutes are called Kuyuidokado (Cui-ui eaters), after the Cui-ui fish, found nowhere else in the world.
The Northern Paiute live in areas including Lovelock, McDermitt, Mason Valley, Smith Valley, Pyramid Lake, Reno-Sparks, Stillwater, Fallon, Summit Lake and Walker River. Unlike many Native Americans throughout the country, the Pyramid Lake Paiute and the Walker River Paiute never faced complete relocation. Their ancestors have lived there for millennia. The Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation is home to the only Scenic Byway in the country completely within a tribal reservation.
The Northern Paiute all share the desire to make the present and the future better than their challenging past while teaching younger generations appreciation of their cultural and linguistic heritage.
Pine Nut Festival
Every third weekend of September, several hundred American Indians and visitors gather at the Walker River Paiute Tribe reservation in Schurz to participate in a spiritual ceremony that celebrates life and the harvest. The festival’s many events include an Indian rodeo, powwow dance, stick games and pine nut dance. During the pine nut dance, dancers move on sacred ground in a circle around a staff with eagle feathers and tobacco offerings for what is called the pine nut blessing. The spiritual ceremony dates back more than one hundred years to a time when the pine nut was winter subsistence for Great Basin Indians. Today, the dance is a way to honor the tribe’s ancestors, preserve native traditions and revive spiritual practices.
Sacred Visions Powwow
Places of special interest
Scenic Byway Visitors Cultural Center
The Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway Visitors Cultural Center is located on the south side of Pyramid Lake, in the town of Nixon. The Cultural Center offers a great display of local American Indian artifacts that show the history of the Kooyooe Tukaddu people. The center is open Monday through Friday during the winter and Monday through Saturday in the summer.