Culture & History
browse allclose

Tribal Cultures

Utah's Tribal Cultures
Utah is home to five distinct American Indian cultures, each with a unique heritage that can be found among the state's many sacred places, dwelling sites, rock art locations, and museum exhibits. Click here for additional information about Utah's Indian cultures.
Utah's Living Legacy
Utah is named after the Ute Indians. It is a Spanish derivative that evolved from the first Spanish reference to them as Quasuatas, a form of the word "Yutas." Today, Utah's Shoshone, Goshute, Ute, Paiute, and Navajo (Diné) people continue to thrive on the lands of their ancestors.

Utah is named for the Ute Indian tribe indigenous to the north/central portion of the state. The "Ute" name was derived from a Native American word that was spelled and pronounced differently by early Europeans, ranging from the Spanish "Yuta" to the fur trappers' "Eutaw."

The Goshute, Navajo, and Paiute occupy lands in the desert regions of the state and adopted cultures relative to that region. The Shoshone and Ute culture was similar until they acquired the horse and adopted a mountain plains way of life, which enabled them to expand their range and hunt large game animals.

For more information about Utah's American Indian sites, traditional events or peoples, contact: Utah State Division of Indian Affairs - 801-538-8808 - State Website includes information on tribes, events calendar, and additional resource links.

Did you know? Petroglyphs describe ancient rock art where inscriptions or images were pecked or incised into the rock, while pictographs were painted onto the surface using plant and mineral dyes. The exact meanings of many pictographs and petroglyphs are yet unknown.

Ancient Habitation Sites, Rock Art Panels, and Museums

There are countless Native American sites of interest around the state. To the south, cliff dwellings and kiva ruins may be found at Hovenweep National Monument and Edge of the Cedars State Park. Rock art locations are preserved around the state. Across Utah are many sites where ancient stone dwellings and places of worship have been stabilized, preserved, and interpreted for the enrichment and education of present and future generations. The locations included below represent merely a cross-section of accessible sites.

Annual Events

Living Traditions Festival, Salt Lake City (May)
Paiute Restoration Days Pow Wow, Cedar City (June)
Heber Valley Pow Wow, Soldier Hollow (June)
Northern Ute Pow Wow, Fort Duchesne (July)
Annual Pioneer Celebration, Monument Valley (August)
Native American Festival and Pow Wow, West Valley City (August)
Bear Dance: Traditional Hand and Stick Games, White Mesa (September)
Bear Dance, Bluff (Labor Day)
Navajo Fair and Rodeo, Bluff (September)
Native American Pow Wow, Tooele (September)