Prior to contact the Paiute had a migratory lifestyle, with each band moving often within its territory to make use of seasonally available food sources. Food sources included Pinyon Pine nuts, grass seeds, fish, migratory waterfowl, Pronghorn Antelope, rabbits and other small mammals. Except for Cui-ui lakesucker and the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which could be caught in great abundance during their spawning runs, these food sources were available sporadically, and in only small quantities. In the eastern part of the Great Basin, the Paiute overlapped and intermingled with the Shoshone people.
Although contact increased their mobility by introducing them to horses and due an early policy by the railroads which allowed Paiutes to travel for free within Northern Nevada, the modern history of the tribe shares much with other western tribes - disease, poverty, war with the federal government, conflict with prospectors, ranchers and farmers and loss of the traditional way of life.
Federal policy encouraged farming at the expense of the fisheries, which were nearly destroyed by diversions for irrigation. Currently, with help from tribally-run fish hatcheries, Cui-ui and Cutthroat Trout numbers are recovering in Pyramid Lake, although water is often insufficient to support spawning runs, and the fisheries are not commercially significant. Loss of these fisheries was a terrible blow to the Paiute people, both economicaly and culturaly.