The Paiute, like the Shoshone, are descended from the Cochise culture. The Cochise lived in North America’s southwest about 8000 BC. With the end of the last Ice Age, the southwest got too dry to support everybody. So the Cochise split up. The ancestors of the Paiute, the Shoshone, the Aztecs, and the Ute moved north. Soon they lived around the edges of an enormous lake. The lake covered most of northern Nevada and into Wyoming and Utah and Colorado! But even this giant lake started to dry up about 7000 BC. So they split up again. The Aztec and Ute moved back to the south. But the Shoshone and Paiute stayed where they were. So Paiute languages are related to the languages that the Shoshone, the Utes and the Aztecs speak.
By about 5000 BC, Paiute people lived all across what is now southern Oregon, Nevada, California, western Utah, and northern Arizona. Paiute people were not farmers. They were nomadic. They hunted and gathered all of their food. Each group of Paiute people controlled access to one particular lake or wetland. Paiutes found most of the food and materials they needed along the edges of that lake, or by fishing and catching ducks and geese in their lake. They also gathered pine nuts in the mountains, every fall. They ate grass seed, wapato and other roots, squirrels and rabbits, and deer. Like their Ute relatives further south, Paiute people lived in wickiups.
Mostly the Paiute lived in peace with the Shoshone to their north and the Ute to their south, who were their relatives. But the Washoe lived to the west of the Paiutes, along the California coast, and were not related to them. The Paiutes did fight wars over land rights with the Washoe people.
About 1200 AD, some of these Paiute may have gotten together with southern Shoshone people and the Ute to invade Pueblo people’s land. That was far south of them in what is now New Mexico and Arizona.