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Paiutes Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Restoration

Paiutes Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Restoration

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- More than 600 people attended a powwow observing the 25 anniversary of the restoration of the Paiute Tribe of Utah.

The powwow Sunday was the culmination of three days of festivities that tribal leaders say drew more than 2,000 people.

Jerry Bear, dance contest announcer, said, "We're still Indians no matter what, but to have the restoration of recognition is significant and that's what this gathering is all about."

According to the state Office of Indian Affairs, the five Paiute Bands in southern Utah united in the 19th Century when reservations were established. The bands are the Shivwits, Indian Peaks, Kanosh, Koosharem and Cedar.

All but the Cedar Band were terminated from federal recognition in 1954. Since the Cedar Band received no federal assistance, it suffered de facto termination, and, like the other bands, became ineligible for any federal assistance.

"The results of termination which the tribe experienced between 1954 and 1980 had devastating social and economic consequences," the state agency said. "Nearly one-half of all tribal members died during this period for lack of health resources and lack of adequate income to meet their needs. About 15,000 acres of former reservation lands were lost, primarily due to the inability to pay property taxes. Pride and culture diminished dramatically."

The tribe's efforts to regain federal recognition paid off on April 3, 1980, when Congress passed The Paiute Restoration Act.

This enabled the federal trust relationship to be restored to the tribe. Four years later, Congress passed The Paiute Reservation Plan to recover lands lost by the termination. A new reservation land base was added in 1984 with the return of 4,800 acres out of the 15,000 acres lost.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Lora Tom said she felt blessed to be able to commemorate the federal restoration that occurred a quarter century ago.

"I'm very proud to be a Paiute, and very grateful to our visitors and dancers and support from the city. It is my hope that the relationship with the city grows even stronger," Tom said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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