Utah Indians may be classified into three larger tribes: the Ute, the Paiute, and the Shoshoni, who include the Gosiute (or Goshute), though such a grouping is based only on similarities of language and culture and not on the existence of a central government or formal organization. In the early historic period the eastern and central portions of the State were claimed by eight bands of the Ute. Though they moved about to some extent, each occupied a fairly definite area. The Timpanoguts lived near Utah Lake; the Uintas and Kosunats in the Uintah Basin; the Yampas in the vicinity of the Green and Grand rivers; the Pahvants near Kanosh; the Seuvarits in Castle Valley; the San Pits in San Pete Valley; the Pavogogwunsings in Sevier County; and the Paiutes or Water Utes in southeastern San Juan County. Other bands of this group were found in an area extending east into Colorado and south into New Mexico. Eight bands of Paiute lived in the southwestern counties, including Beaver, Piute, Garfield, and southern San Juan. The Beaver band dwelt in southern Beaver and northern Iron counties; the Kaiparowits on and around the Kaiparowits Plateau; the Gunlock band in western Washington County; the Cedar in southeastern Iron County; the St. George band in southern Washington County; the Kaibab in southwestern Kane County; the Uinkaret in eastern Washington County; and the Panguitch in western Garfield and southern Piute Counties. There were other Paiute bands to the south and west. To the west and north of Utah Lake lay the Shoshoni country. At least four bands of Gosiutes lived at Deep Creek in western Juab County; at Skull Valley in central Tooele County; at Snake Creek in northwestern Millard County; and at Trout Creek in central Juab County. In western Box Elder County lived the Tubaduka (Pine Nut Eaters). To the east of these lived the Hukundukka and the Kamuduka (Jack Rabbit Eaters), while Cache and Rich Counties were occupied by the Pangwiduka (Fish Eaters). The Weber Utes lived on the east shore of Great Salt Lake. In addition to these permanent residents, bands of transient mounted Shoshoni from Idaho and Wyoming spent part of their time in northern Utah.
There was no great differentiation in mode of life among the Indians of Utah. Economic dependence was largely upon wild vegetable products and the smaller mammals. Except among the Ute and mounted Shoshoni larger animals were seldom hunted. Clothing was meager and poorly made in the southwest, but the Plains influence produced clothing of better quality in the north. Conical pole lodges covered with grass or brush were the usual type of dwelling, though skin tepees were in use among the Ute and mounted Shoshoni.
The greater part of the Utah Indian's time was spent in foodgetting. The Ute, who obtained Spanish horses at a very early date, made good use of them in pursuing the buffalo which, before the nineteenth century, roamed as far west as northern California. Deer and antelope were lured or driven over precipices or into V-shaped enclosures where they were easily killed by arrows; antelope were also taken by "surrounds." Dogs were used, to some extent, by the Paiute for hunting deer and mountain sheep. Rabbits were driven into areas enclosed by long nets in which they became entangled. Several types of digging sticks were in use by the Paiute and Gosiutes for unearthing small rodents. Snares, including a type of deadfall, were also used. Although individual stalking with the bow and arrow was probably important, greater dependence was placed on traps, snares, and communal hunts. The sinew-backed bow, made of wood or mountain sheep horn, was perhaps the most effective weapon on the hunt. Ants and grasshoppers were a part of the Paiute and Shoshoni diet. Ants were obtained by scooping up the earth from ant hills and separating the ants from the earth by shaking in a basket somewhat after the manner of panning gold. Grasshoppers, driven into shallow pits, were gathered, dried, ground into meal, and used in a type of biscuit.
Although the western Utah bands depended to a very large extent on vegetable foods, agriculture is known to have been practiced by only one group, the Kaibab. Corn and squash were raised with the aid of irrigation. Even among this group, however, wild food products were the main staples. The leaves and stems of many plants were boiled and eaten. Various types of grass seeds were gathered and ground into meal on flat stones. Pine nuts, roasted for immediate use and stored raw for winter consumption, were an important article of diet. Annual expeditions into the hills were made by some groups to obtain great quantities of these nuts. Among the other plant products were sunflower seeds, sego-lily bulbs, camas roots, serviceberries, yucca pods, cactus pears, and arrowroot leaves. The various types of meal were made into porridges or mixed with dried berries and baked in ashes. The meat of the larger animals was broiled or cut into strips and dried. Small animals were baked in ashes in their own skins. Most boiling and cooking was in waterproof baskets with the aid of heated stones.