Ancestors of the modern Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe have resided on the shores of Pyramid Lake for an estimated nine to 10 thousand years. Tribal traditions tell us that “Mother Earth” provided for the people, sustaining life in the region for centuries.
In 1844, the first non-Indian settler to the region came into contact with the Paiute people, a meeting that foreshadowed the enormous changes to come. The following decades saw the Comstock Lode and an influx of gold seekers and settlers. Tensions arose as both the Paiutes and the settlers fought for land and in 1860, the Pyramid Lake Wars erupted. The Paiute warriors clashed with non-natives who had settled in the valley and deaths on both sides prompted the government to intervene. Many tribes were uprooted and relocated to unfamiliar lands, but the Pyramid Lake Paiute people fought to stay. Finally, in 1873, Ulysses S. Grant signed an executive order establishing Pyramid Lake as a reservation, which it remains to this day.
Pyramid Lake is one of the most valuable assets of the tribe today. In fact, much of the economy on the reservation centers on fishing and recreational activities on the water. The tribe sells permits for use of the lake in addition to receiving lease and tax revenues. Just as it has for thousands of years, Pyramid Lake sustains its Paiute people. In exchange, the tribe strives to protect the lake and its creatures.