The following list gives the names of the wildlife that was obtained from elderly Paiutes over the years. This list is in no way complete as the Paiutes had names for all visible creatures, great and small. Additional information collected by the Paiutes, pertaining to the wildlife in this list, is also included. The information given here is meager and in no way represents the vast knowledge and beliefs the Paiutes had concerning the abundant wildlife of their diversified homeland.
The Four Legged Ones
ANTELOPE wunts, wuntsee'puhts. This animal was a favorite game animal. Jimmy Timmican showed me an antelope run southeast of Loa, Utah, that his ancestors used. The run consisted of low rows of rocks running for a considerable distance and ending in a narrow funnel shape. Occasional piles of rocks for people to hide behind were scattered at intervals along the run. The rocks were permanent landscape features so the antelope would become accustomed to them. The rocks were situated so that hidden Indians could rise up with a blanket to scare the fleeing antelope if they sought to break through the sides of the run. The antelope were being spooked in the direction of the narrow funnel-like section of rocks where the antelope would have to crowd together and slow down. Armed men would hide behind the rocks in this narrow place and rise up and shoot the antelope as they crowed through the funnel.
ARMADILLO punu' tuhmpee nando (lit, iron rock clothes). The name is derived from the hard body cover of the armadillo.
BADGER oon', oonum'puhts. Badger fur was used for moccasin tops (on the toe) and its hide used as moccasin soles when thicker hides couldn't be obtained. Badgers were also favored as pets and when raised from youth "they would follow you around like a dog."
BEAR kweyu'hunt, kweuts' (kweuts is the word for rattlesnake at Moapa). The bear is also referred to as kawgoon', or kawgoots' (maternal grandmother). "The bear doesn't like to be called kweyu'hunt. She likes to be called kawgoots' (Minnie Jake). Call her kawgoots when you are near her and kweyu'hunt when she can't hear you. Maybe she likes to be called kawgoots because she likes to go about her own business unmolested." Eagle Valley, Minnie Jake. Jimmy Timmican used the word Kawgoon.
BEAR (Black) too'kwawdum kweyu'hunt, too'kweyu'hunt (lit, black bear).
BEAR (Brown) undo'kwawdum kweyu'hunt (lit, brown bear).
BEAR (Grizzly) tosaw' kweuts (lit, white bear).
BILLY GOAT savaw'toots. Sawvaw'toots was Frank Beckwith's Indian name. He was the well-known writer from Delta, Utah, who wrote a lot about the Kanosh Band of Paiutes.
BOBCAT tookoo'puhts, took'. Bobcats were eaten; "They tasted like pork." Eagle Valley, Minnie Jake.
1. Moahoy' kootch (lit, blanket cow) Kaibab.
2. Tuhdu' kootch (lit, desert cow) Kanosh.
"At one time, there used to be buffalo around the ledges on the north side of the Colorado River near the Kaibab Mountains. Over-anxious Hopi or Hualapai ate them before they could increase and they became extinct. Soonungwuv placed them there. Old timers say you could dig down a little ways and still find their manure." Kaibab, Morris Jake.
CHIPMUNK The following chipmunks or ground squirrels were not fully identified.
1. Tawvawts' (two stripes).
2. Oy'oychuts' (two stripes).
1. Kuhmp'pawts (Kanosh).
2. Spees, sepees'.
3. Chuhpeesh' (Koosharem).
"Chiseler" is a local name. This animal was eaten and was common in both the Koosharem and Kanosh area. It could be a ground squirrel, prairie dog, or something similar. Jimmy Timmican calls it chuhpeesh and says it's like a gopher and good to eat, and he says the white men call it kweemp as pronounced by the Paiutes. I'm unsure of spelling and haven't been able to find chiseler or kweemp in any animal books. (Martineau)
CHUCKWALLA Sauomalus obesus chukwawd'. The modern word "chuckwalla" comes from the Paiute name. This lizard has a lot of meat on its tail and was eaten by the Shivwits. When pursued it will seek safety in a crack of a rock and inflate itself so that it can't be pulled out. It would often have to be punctured in order to extract it. Paiutes carried a special pointed stick for this purpose. Chuckwallas were roasted in ashes and then eaten.
COLLARD LIZARD (Black) Crotaphphytus insularis, chungunts'.
COTTONTAIL Sylvilagus tawvoot's. A popular meat among Paiutes. The cottontail
often runs into holes when chased and in such cases a stick was pushed into the
rabbit's fur and twisted causing it to cling to the rabbit so it could be pulled out.
COUGAR, MOUNTAIN LION peu' dook, peu' tookoop' (lit, big cat).
1. Suhnuv, soonuv.
2. Yoho'vuhts (Lit. one who always has intercourse probably another name for
the deity Soonung'wuv.) .
3. Soonung'wuv (a legendary deity who was once human).
"Coyote and owl are messengers telling you about something that's going to happen someplace else. For this reason they are not killed." Kaibab, Morris Jake. "If a coyote cries three times in a row during the day it's a bad sign." Indian Peak, Clifford Jake.
DEER (Mule) tuh'euts, tuh'ee. A popular meat among all Paiutes. The biggest of the two-point bucks has a special name. It is called soowees'. Koosharem, Jimmy Timmican. The marrow in the lower front leg of a deer was used as a lotion and hair tonic. Marrow in rear lower leg wasn't eaten as it made runners weak. Paiutes also did not eat the bone meat where ribs connect at chest or the thin layer of meat hanging over the belly area. Koosharem, Vera Charles.
DEER (White-tailed) chigoos', chegoop', chegoots'. "There used to be a deer in the Sevier Valley before the white man came. It was called chigoos'. Its rump was whiter and its tail bushier than the mule deer." Koosharem, Jimmy Timmican.
ELK pahtuh'ee (lit, water deer). The animal was eaten and the hides used for clothing and tipi covers (Indian Peak and Kaibab).
GILA MONSTER Heloderma suspectum hawtsee'mo. The Shivwits say that this gila monster "turns over in order to bite a person. Both types were eaten as a food believing that it made a person light complexioned and helped you live longer." Shivwits, Eunice Tillahash.
GILA MONSTER (Banded) Heloderma cinctum etseev'. Eaten by the Shivwits.
GOPHER Thomomys, muheyuhm'puhts.
HORNED TOAD, SHORT-HORNED LIZARD Phrynosoma mukaw'chuts. It is believed that if you kill a horned toad it will rain and the wind will blow hard. For this reason, a Paiute will not kill a horned toad unless he wants it to rain. "If you are out in the desert and become thirsty, put a horned toad in your shirt pocket and your thirst will be eased and you will not be thirsty." Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
HORSE kuvawts' (Spanish caballo). "The horse was eaten; it tastes salty. Its hide was used for mats and its tail used in tipis in recent times to hang combs in." Eagle Valley, Minnie Jake.
JACKRABBIT kumoonts'. The jackrabbit was a very common food, even the meat on the head was eaten. Jackrabbits with blisters under the hide were not eaten. Jackrabbits were commonly hunted in rabbit drives where they were driven into nets and clubbed. They were also hunted with rabbit sticks made of oak and shaped similar to a boomerang.
A recent favorite way of hunting them at Kaibab was on horseback when the snow was just deep enough to hinder the rabbit from outrunning a horse. Each rider had two rabbit sticks and when a rabbit was routed the horsemen gave chase trying to kill it by throwing their rabbit sticks at the running rabbit. Kaibab, Ernest Mose.
The blue thing on a rabbit's liver, combined with something else, was used for arrowhead poison. Kaibab, Morris Jake and Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
Rabbit hides were worn with yucca sandals to keep the feet warm during the winter when the snow was slushy.
JUMPING MOUSE Zapus princeps paiyuhm 'puhts.
KANGAROO RAT Dipodomys tawwee'uts.
LIZARD sekoo'peets (the name for most lizards in general).
MAMMOTH, MASTODON mooyai sevee'u. Jimmy Timmican told me a story of a large animal once seen in the Sevier River near Joseph, Utah. This animal was large with his head hanging down and had never been seen before. The animal was called "mooyai sevee'u." Mooyai means to hang down the head and sevee'u was the name of the animal. The Paiutes named the Sevier River "Sevee'u" after this animal. The whites Anglicized it to Sevier.
It is doubtful that this name referred to the buffalo as the Paiutes were acquainted with this animal and called it moahoy' kootch and tuhdu' kootch. Anglo informants claim there were buffalo wallows and bones in the area in the 1870s. It is questionable that they had seen a wondering buffalo and named the river after it. Place names are often very old, therefore an animal other than the buffalo would be the most likely candidate for this name. There is a nearby petroglyph depicting a mammoth or mastodon that could account for this tentative identification.
MOUNTAIN GOAT kai'tos (Moapa and Las Vegas).
MOUNTAIN SHEEP nawk', nahgah'. Mountain sheep were hunted from blinds in the Moapa area. They were also attracted within archery range by the imitated sounds of bunting horns made by two men hitting clubs together near the mountain tops.
Mountain sheep horns were used for bows, spoons, dippers, and arrow wrenches.
The Shivwits have a Mountain Sheep Dance (see Paiute Dances).
PACK RAT kawts. Used as a meat product particularly in the Grand Canyon area where other foods were lacking. Kaibab, Morris Jake.
PORCUPINE yoongoom'puhts, yuhuhm'puhts. The quills were used for quillwork. The porcupine is the one who owns and hides the wild game. When you shoot a porcupine say to him, "I wouldn't have killed you if you would have given me some animals." Indian Peak, Johnny Jake.
PRAIRIE DOG aiah'vuhts. This was a favorite food among Paiutes. The hide would be left on and a slit made along the stomach so that the intestines could be removed. The stomach would then be laced back together with a green stick. The fur was burned off and then the prairie dog would be placed on hot coals and roasted. The burnt skin would be peeled off and not eaten. Kaibab.
RINGTAIL CAT Bassariscus astutus moosoon' tookoopuhts.
ROCKCHUCK, YELLOWBELLY MARMOT yu'uhm'puhts, yu'um'puhts. A popular food among the Paiutes. It was cooked the same way as prairie dogs. "When your wife is pregnant you shouldn't hunt woodchucks. The reason is that when you shoot a woodchuck and he falls down into his hole he is sometimes hard to pull out. This means your baby will not come out easy." Indian Peak, Clifford Jake.
SKUNK poanee', Po'oonee.
SNOWSHOE RABBIT tosaw’kawm (lit, white rabbit). The snowshoe rabbit was eaten and the hide used for white rabbit-skin blankets or white blankets spotted with black. The hides were tanned and sewn together since they were stronger than jackrabbit hides and didn't rip (see crafts).
SQUIRREL (Flying) Glaucomys sabrinus oahon' tawvawts (lit, pine squirrel). This squirrel has the same name as the white-tailed squirrel on the Kaibab Mountains.
SQUIRREL (Gray) Sciurus griseus ung'kuchawn.
SQUIRREL (Red) Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ungkaw' sekoots' (lit, red squirrel).
SQUIRREL (White-tailed) Sciurus kaibabensis oahon' tawvawts (lit, pine
squirrel). This is the white-tailed squirrel found on the Kaibab Mountains. Kaibab,
SQUIRREL (Rock) Spermophilus variegatus sekoots'.
TORTOISE (Desert) Gopherus agassizii aiyu', Aiyah, pee'kai. The desert tortoise was a favorite food among the Shivwits, Moapa, and Las Vegas bands.
1. Kwetoo'unuv (lit, master wolf)
2. Peah' suhnuv (lit, big coyote)
3. Toovuts (This word refers to wolf in the sense of God)
UNIDENTIFIED ANIMAL pawkai'okos.
UNIDENTIFIED LIZARD chuai' muuv. A big lizard found at Bull Springs in Western Iron County, Utah.
UNIDENTIFIED LIZARD moogwee'uts "a brown lizard with a long tail."
UNIDENTIFIED LIZARD aitawk' oovuhts (lit, one who disappears).
UNIDENTIFIED LIZARD yookwee'vuhts.
The Feathered Ones
BIRD wetseetch' (the general name for most small birds).
BLACKBIRD (Red-winged) Agelaius phoeniceus pawhaw'chukup, pawhawn'tsukup
BLUEBIRD Sialia nawnchoots'.
BLUE GROUSE, PINE HEN Dendragapus obscurus kaohm'puhts. This is the grouse
that is found living on Cedar Mountain in southern Utah that often lands on pine
branches when pursued. This grouse is locally called "pine hen." A different
informant gave the name of grouse as sahwhaw kaompuhts (lit, blue grouse) which
is probably the same bird.
BUZZARD, TURKEY VULTURE Cathartes aura wekoomp'uts, week'w. The feathers
of this bird were not used because it was a scavenger. Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
CANARY o-aw' wetseetch' (lit, yellow bird).
CROW Corvus. There should be a distinction between the raven and crow but I didn't get
this settled while the older people were still alive. (Martineau)
1. Yutaw'puhts, awtaw'puhts.
3. Hataw 'konts (Kanosh).
DUCK (in general) tsuhg' singular, chukuts, tsuhguts plural. Duck eggs were a favorite food. The Paiutes used to camp just off the northeast corner of Rock Point near Bicknell, Utah, to gather these eggs. Koosharem, Douglas Timmican
EAGLE (Bald) pawngwu'. The feathers of this bird were not used by the average Paiute because this bird was a scavenger. Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
EAGLE (Golden) kwununts'. The feathers of this bird were used for ornamentation, arrow fletching, and for religious purposes. The feathers from a live bird were preferred and therefore they were trapped or taken from the nest when young and raised. The feathers were pulled when they were one year old and then again when they were two years of age. After the feathers grew back the eagle was turned loose.
They were favored pets while in captivity. The two center plumes on an eagle's tail are
the "Medicine plumes" Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
FLICKER (Red-shafted) Calaples cafer kwunu'wunts.
GEESE Branta ka'ov'.
HAWK (Red-tailed) Buteo jumaicensis sunu' kwununts (lit, pitch eagle).
HAWK (Swainson's) Buteo swainsonii.
1. Kwununt'seets (lit, little eagle).
2. Undo'kwununts (lit, brown eagle).
HERMIT THRUSH Hylocichla guttata sawngwuv'ooet (lit, sage sparrow).
HORNED LARK Eremophila alpestris sechoo'nunts.
HUMMING BIRD moo'toonchuts, moo'toontuts.
JAY (Arizona) Cyanocitta woodhousei choeng'kee.
JAY (Blue) Cyanocitta cristata oahon' chaiuk'utch (lit. Pine Jay).
JAY (Pinyon) Gymnorhinus cyanocephala ungunts'.
JAY (Steller's) Cyanocitta stelleri chaiu'kutch.
JUNCO (Slate-colored) junco hyemalis noovu' toampoa'koytch (lit. snow toampoa'koytch).
KILLDEER Charadrius vociferus pawntuh'keets.
MAGPIE maw'kwaiuv, maw'kwaiuts (kwaiuv'and kwaiuts' are shortened forms of this
MARSH HAWK Circus cyaneus ma'aw'vu chukuts.
MEADOW LARK Stumella neglecta eetoowuts.
MOCKING BIRD yump.
MOURNING DOVE aiyov'.
NIGHTHAWK (Common) Chordeiles minor peum'oanoaupuhts.
NIGHTHAWK (Lesser) Chordeiles acutipennis pee'yoots.
OWL (Burrowing) Speotyto cunicularia mookoo'hoots. "The ground owl makes a good pet. He will stay around your house. Feed him meat. This owl is a good bird. His Indian name is
mookoo'hoots." Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
OWL (Great horned) moo-oom'puhts.
"The feathers of the owl were not used because this bird was an omen of death or bad luck if heard crying near the camp at night." (Indian Peak, Carl Jake.)
"A medicine man might use the feathers for some purpose." (Shivwits, George McFee.)
"Coyote and owl are messengers telling you about something that's going to happen someplace else; for this reason, they are not killed." (Kaibab, Morris Jake.)
"An owl is not a good bird; he is not liked." (Koosharem, Florence Kanosh)
"When a bird, especially an owl, sings at night near you it is telling of something bad that is going to happen. That's why owl feathers are not to be used." Eagle Valley, Minnie Jake.)
"An owl hooting is only a bad sign when it does something unusual like landing on your house or maybe talks like a human." (Kanosh, Earl Pikyavit.)
OWL (Screech) waw'nawkweetch.
1. Unkawd (lit, red one).
2. Chupun'ee wetseech' (lit. Japanese bird).
QUAIL ungkaw'duhmpuhts. Used as food. The Shivwits had a Quail Dance (see Paiute
1. Soonung'wuvee toowuv'ukaip (lit. Coyote's son who once was).
2. Soonungwuvee toowung (lit. Coyote's son).
ROBIN senk'o kwunuv, tsekonung, tsek'wunkwunuv.
SAGE HEN Centrocerus urophasianus sechu'. This bird was used as food. Jimmy Timmican showed me a sage hen hunting blind southeast of Loa, Utah, that was used by his band. It consisted of a shallow hole about 18 inches deep and about 5 to 6 feet in diameter with a circle of low rocks around it. It was big enough for the hunter to hide in in this low brush covered flat where there was little concealment. Jimmy Timmican says the feathers of the sage hen are the best for arrows. They are strong, last a long time, and help the arrow shoot straight. Cedar City, Arthur Richards
SCAUP (Lesser) Aythya affinis too' koochoomputs (lit, black koochoomputs).
SEA GULL noovu'dos.
SPARROW o'euts (a general term for sparrow like birds).
SPARROW (English) Passer domesticus yuh'uhng-kawhunt (lit. stealer).
SPARROW HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL kuhdee'nungkuts (lit. cut neck)
SWALLOW (Barn) Hirundo rustica paw'sutoakoytch.
TEAL (Green-winged) Anas carolinensis oampee' koonu'vuhts (lit. ochre sack?).
TURKEY (Domesticated) tuh'keets, too'kee (Eng. turkey). I didn't get the Paiute word for the native wild turkey but the Northern Utes call it kweyoot'.
WARBLER (Myrtle) Dendroica coronata toanchoa'noych.
WHIP-POOR-WILL or COMMON POOR-WILL Phalaenoptilus nuttallii or Caprimulgus ridgwayi pawn'uhoytch.
WILSON SNIPE Capella gallinago koeet'.
WOODPECKER oavee' toapoaneench (lit, wood pecker?) a general name for all woodpeckers.
UNIDENTIFIED BIRD chi'deveens. A small bird that lives in the sage near Lund, Utah. UNIDENTIFIED BIRD puhntuh'keets. A small bird that lives by ponds near Enterprise, Utah, and makes a sound like "tweet."
UNIDENTIFIED BIRD we'ukuv. A small bird that makes a hanging nest in trees and sings a lot. It is common on highway 89 south of Richfield, Utah.
UNIDENTIFIED BIRD tawpeyoots. It makes a certain sound. It's a day bird and lives by the water. It's bigger than a robin. (Compare the last part of this name with the lesser nighthawk peyoots. It is probably a similar or related bird.)
UNIDENTIFIED BIRD noovu' toampokweets (lit. snow ? ) a snow bird with a black head.
UNIDENTIFIED BIRD wai'voosuts.
UNIDENTIFIED FALCON sawkhwah kawsuv (lit, blue or green falcon).
UNIDENTIFIED HAWK awsee'u vuhvuhts. Kaibab, Morris Jake called this bird a "chicken hawk." The name sounds as if it has gray in it and scary.
UNIDENTIFIED SWALLOW paw'sadokupets.
ANTLION LARVAE, DOODLEBUG myrmeleontidae kuh'uh'toanoyntch.
ANTS tawsee'uv (the general name for most ants).
ANTS (Red) ungkaw' tawsee'uv (lit, red ant).
BAT pawchuts', pawtsuts' (Kanosh).
BLACK WIDOW SPIDER too' hookwump (lit black spider).
BLOODSUCKER (A beetle found in southern Utah)
1. Suhum 'ohots "It has a big head and stripes and is called wild horse by some southern Utah whites."
2. Chuhum'uhoyts "It looks like suhuhm'ohots but is red with black stripes."
BUTTERFLY aw 'sevuhts, awsee'voadonts (Kanosh).
1. Tuhmpee' tohouv (lit, rock snake).
2. Suhng'ump (Shivwits and Koosharem).
"When a suhng'ump bites you, counts its legs. The person it bit will die the same number of either days, months, or years, that the centipede has legs." Koosharem, Florence Kanosh.
2. Tsuh'duhts (Kanosh)
3. Skedeets' (Shivwits).
This is the common cricket heard in the evenings throughout southern Utah.
DRAGONFLY saw'duhveengkuhts (Shivwits).
1. Pawkwun', pawkwun'nuv.
3. Sahwhaw'hawduhm wawhots (lit, green frog) Kaibab.
4. Pawkots' (Willow Springs, Arizona).
The above names probably indicate different types of frogs. Wawhots was described
as a "Green spotted frog." Pawkots was said to be the name for frog among the
Willow Springs, Arizona Paiutes.
2. Moapuhmp' (Koosharem). Moapuhmp' is a different type of gnat than ungeev'.
GRASSHOPPER awdung'kupeets, awdung'kawts. Grasshoppers were roasted, ground
into a meal, and then made into cakes or a mush.
HELLGRAMMITES Corydalidae pahsuh'kawmeents (Sapir called pawsuh’kawmeents
a water lizard Phyllodactylus tuberculosis).
INSECT, BUG pa'awts' (this word refers to any insect or bug).
JERUSALEM CRICKET, COPPERHEAD Stenopelmatus fuscus tuhgoo'tuh neahv (lit, burying chief, grave chief). "Copperhead" is the popular name of this bug in Sevier County, Utah.
LOCUST kuhv, kuhoov'. "Locust" is the popular name in southern Utah. This particular
locust makes a loud pulsating buzz.
1. Moo'sevuhkots (Koosharem)
2. Wuhsee'uvuhkuhts (Shivwits). Wuhsee'uv (wawseev') is the Paiute word for the soft scales that comes off the moth's wing. This word also represents the very fine hair-like stickers found on prickly pear fruit.
2. Nuhmu'hawpeev (Shivwits).
1. Kwawsee' kwepump (lit, hits with the tail).
2. Podo'tsekunt (lit, has a cane).
STINKBUG hookoo'vechuts. This is the common southern Utah black hard-shelled bug
that raises its rear end up and emits a foul odor when approached.
2. Touv' (the word used at Shivwits for a rabbit tick).
TROUT pawguh'uts is the general name for all fish. Ungkaw' pawguh'u (lit, red fish) is
the name of the trout. This trout was the one once so common at Fish Lake, Utah, with
red meat. It was a favorite food among many Paiutes. Until the 1930s Paiutes from
many areas would congregate at Fish and Panguitch lakes to spend much of the
summer living off fish and deer. This fish was speared and trapped. Jimmy Timmican
said that this fish was once so plentiful at Fish Lake that the wagons would run over
many just crossing the creeks on the west side of Fish Lake. He said they could even
be scooped out by the handfuls at certain times.
WORM toowee' toho'uv (lit, earth snake).
YELLOW JACKET whechun'u kawmoont.
UNIDENTIFIED BUG pawntus'. A black beetle that looks like the following sketch:
UNIDENTIFIED BUG kawkoo'puhts, kawhoo'peets. This name sounded like "kawgoon" (your grandmother) to the informant who said it was a "red furry bug with red and black legs."
BULL SNAKE, GOPHER SNAKE, BLOW SNAKE Pituophis melanoleucus koahom' puhts. "A man would wrap a bull snake around his arms and body to help make him strong and have muscles like the snake." Kanosh, Ralph Pikyavit. One informant gave the same name (koahom'puhts) for a yellow and black ringed non-poisonous snake.
KING SNAKE suhng, suhng'uv, suhng'ump (recent informants also gave suhng as the poisonous coral snake and the whip snake).
2. Kweuts (the word for rattlesnake at Moapa and the word for bear in Utah).
3. Wauhts' (the word for any snake at Moapa).
RED RACER nuntuh'nuv. The skin of this snake was used as a decoration on bows.
Indian Peak, Carl Jake.
SIDE WINDER tawnu'keets, tawnu'kuhts.
WATER SNAKE pah' toho'uv (lit, water snake).
UNIDENTIFIED SNAKE tuhngchuhng'kots.
UNIDENTIFIED SNAKE moonchuv. Chemehuevi, Jim Chili.