major distinction between the Utes and Paiutes living in this area was
a cultural, not a linguistic, one, brought about by the environment
and the technology derived from it. Often, in white documents and correspondence,
the Utes and Paiutes of southeastern Utah are referred to simply as
"Paiutes." There was no clear line of demarcation. From a more scholarly
point of view, the Paiutes operated in family groups, and when resources
allowed, came together as bands. They hunted and gathered in an austere
desert land, had no centralized chieftain, no collective religious practices,
and no common goal (other than survival) to unite the different groups.
The Utes started with the same general cultural basis, but because many
lived in an ecologically richer environment and because of the introduction
of the horse, they assumed a more sophisticated, plains Indian-orientation.
The Weeminuche, farthest west, were the last to adopt shades of the
buffalo-hunting, sun-dance practices associated with this Plains Culture.
historical record concerning the Southern Utes in Utah is vague until
the mid-nineteenth century. Spanish and Mexican interaction with the
Weeminuche was generally characterized as a love-hate relationship.
Both Euro-American groups used barter and military might to encourage
peaceful affiliations. They hired Utes to guide expeditions and fight
their neighbors, the Navajos, while both Native American groups sold
their captives on the slave blocks in Taos and Abiquiu, New Mexico.
The Spanish Trail that ran through parts of San Juan County into central
Utah, then through southwestern Utah and eventually to California, was
another favored placed for Southern Ute slave and horse trading.