Pyramid Lake existed for thousands of years before explorer John Fremont discovered it in 1844; it served as a spiritual and survival resource for the native Paiute, who depended upon the cui-ui
fish (which is unique to the lake and now an endangered species).
For eons it was atop the food chain, wreaking havoc on fish like the cui-ui
(Chasmistes cujus) and tui chub (Gila bicolor), and most likely cannibalizing its own.
The hoariest creature in this old oasis is the cui-ui
, a 2-million-year-old sucker with a monogamous relationship to Pyramid.
A prehistoric sucker fish, the cui-ui
, still swims here, and the lands are still populated by the Paiutes.
The agreement also could help improve habitat for two endangered fish, the Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi) and the cui-ui (chasmistes cujus).
Traditionally, the tribe has relied on the lake as a source of fish, two species in particular, the cui-ui and the Pyramid Lake strain of the Lahontan cutthroat trout (for an excellent survey of Pyramid Lake and tribal management of the resource, see Wagner and Lebo 1996).
After construction of the Truckee Canal, the lake no longer received even half of its historic inflows, which led to drops in surface levels, the extinction of the Lahontan cutthroat trout in 1944, and the listing of the cui-ui on the Endangered Species List in 1967.
Pyramid Lake, the terminus of the Truckee River, has also been drying up, its level dropping 100 feet this century and threatening the survival of the cui-ui
, a prehistoric fish that lives nowhere else.
They are called the Kuyuidokado, which translates to cui-ui eaters.
More important to our story, the trout and the cui-ui were major resources on which the tribe depended.
or the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to American Indians, but the cultural significance of other listed species, such as the cui-ui
(Chasmistes cujus), Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache), black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), and gray wolf (Canis lupus), is lesser known.
Over 100,000 cui-ui
(Chasmistes cujus), an endangered fish, have been assisted up-stream of Marble Bluff Dam to spawning habitat in the lower Truckee River.