39th Annual Paiute Restoration Gathering & Pow Wow

Cedar City Utah

There are five bands of Paiutes in Utah. I live very close to two bands, the Shivwits near St. George and the Cedar band in Cedar City. The three other bands are the Kanosh, the Koosharem, and the Indian Peaks located farther north.

Recently I attended the 39th annual Paiute Restoration Gathering and Pow Wow in Cedar City. I attended this pow wow twice before in the 80’s as a student at Southern Utah University. The Paiute Restoration Gathering commemorates the reinstatement of federal recognition after the five bands of Utah Paiutes were terminated in the late 1950’s.

According to the Utah History Encyclopedia, although Bureau of Indian Affairs documents recognized that the Paiutes were not ready to survive without the benefits of the trust relationship with the U.S. federal government, Utah Senator Arthur Watkins included them on the list of tribes to be terminated. Without federal tax protection, health and education benefits, or agricultural assistance, the Paiutes were reduced to a miserable existence during the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Efforts toward restoration began in 1973 with a circulation of petitions calling for the federal government to again recognize the Utah Paiutes. It wasn’t until April 3, 1980, that President Carter signed legislation that restored federal recognition of the Paiutes.

During the Grand Entry, dancers come from the east side and move around in a clockwise position because it represents the way the sun moves across the sky: from the east to the west. Bright colors are believed to be medicinal, that they heal.