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Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation, Nevada records

Identifier: NC16
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe records are divided into 14 series which reflect the various interests, concerns, and aspects of the Tribal Council. The majority of the papers span the years 1934-1969, though there are some included from the early 1930s and some into the 1970s.

Of particular interest in this collection are the minutes of the Tribal Council. Minutes cover years 1934-1979. Also included in Series 1 are board elections; bonds; bylaws; charter; and constitution.

Series 5 includes a large amount of information on what was called the "attorney controversy" which took place from 1951-1955. This controversy revolved around a dispute between the Bureau of Indian Affair and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe where the Bureau failed to approve the Tribe's contract with attorney James Curry. Also of interest in this series are a collection of bills presented to Congress by Senator McCarran as well as other miscellaneous bills all in regards to Native Americans.

Contained within the largest series included in the collection, Series 12, are papers and information on daily life in the tribe and includes birth certificates; death certificates; welfare; tribal roll and enrollment; housing and housing assignments; taxes; law enforcement; health and household records; education; recreation; rations; and religion (nontraditional). Many members of the tribe appear throughout this series, which makes it possible to trace one person in the tribe over a number of years.

The other series included in this collection, although smaller, are rich in resources as well. They cover various aspects of tribal relations with government agencies as well as tribal land management and use.


  • 1930-1979



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Permission to publish must be obtained from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council.


9 Cubic Feet (10 boxes)


Correspondence; minutes; constitution; corporate charter; leases and permits relating to tribal economic matters, mining, fishing, boating, agriculture, and livestock; tribal roll; welfare and health records; material on the development of tribal lands, both recreational and residential; and papers reflecting the tribal interest in and activities concerned with water projects. Much of the correspondence deals with administrative matters and legislation, both Nevada and national, and with tribal activities connected with this legislation.

Administrative History

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe is governed by 10 Tribal Council members who are elected bi-annually in December and on staggered two year terms. The tribe operates under the Indian Reorganization Act constitution and bylaws approved on January 26, 1936 by the Department of Interior.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has a government to government relationship with the Federal Government. Therefore, the Tribe contracts with or receives grants directly from Federal Agencies or the State of Nevada to provide services to the Tribal members and residents of the Reservation. The revenue generated by the Tribe is used to support local Tribal government activities and to supplement the programs that provide direct services to the Tribal members or residents.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribes' Reservation is located thirty-five miles northeast of Reno, Nevada in a remote desert area located in the counties of Washoe, Lyon, and Storey. The area of the reservation contains 475,000 acres or 742.2 square miles. Out of this acreage approximately 112,000 acres cover the surface of a terminal desert lake, Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake is one of the most valuable assets of the Tribe and is entirely enclosed within the boundaries of the Reservation. Pyramid Lake is approximately 15 miles long and 11 miles wide, and measures 350 feet at its deepest point.

Much of the economy on the Pyramid Lake Reservation is centered around fishing and recreational activities at Pyramid Lake. In addition to permit fees for fishing, day use, and overnight camping, the Tribe also receives lease revenue and tax revenue. Several Tribal members belong to the Pyramid Lake Cattleman's Cooperative Association and the Association utilizes the reservation desert open range to operate and manage the individual cattle herds.

Information on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the Tribal Council comes directly from the Tribal website at:


The records of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe are divided into the following series:

Series 1: Tribal Council

Series 2: Carson Indian Agency

Series 3: Nevada State Legislation and Court Cases

Series 4: U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs

Series 5: Federal Legislation and Correspondence

Series 6: Inter-tribal Indian Organizations

Series 7: Tribal Budget

Series 8: Agriculture and Livestock

Series 9: Mining

Series 10: Fishing and Boating

Series 11: Miscellaneous Permits and Leases

Series 12: Tribal Society and Daily Life

Series 13: Miscellaneous

Series 14: Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Pyramid Lake Tribal Council in 1964. A small addition was donated between 1979 and the late 1980s by Robert Leland.

Separated Materials

All photographs originally received with this collection have been transferred to the Special Collections Photo Archives as collection number UNRS-P1997-63.
A Guide to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of the Pyramid Lake Reservation, Nevada records
Robert Armstrong
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)