Loading...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ute Indians


General

The Ute Indians, for whom the State of Utah is named, ranged across the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the white man. The name Ute means ‘land of the Sun.’ The Uintah and Ouray reservation is located in Northeastern Utah (Fort Duchesne) approximately 150 miles east of Salt Lake City on US Highway 40. The reservation is located within a three-county area known as the "Uintah Basin". It is the second largest Indian Reservation in the United States that covers over 4.5 million acres.

There were originally seven Ute clans or bands located in and around the Rocky Mountains.

These were:
  1. the Mouche
  2. the Capote
  3. the Weeminuche
  4. the Tabaguache
  5. the Grand River or Parianuche 
  6. the Yampa or Yamparicas or White River 
  7. the Uintah
These clans were scattered over an area comprising some 150,000 square miles. The Utes encompass both forest dwellers as well as the more nomadic desert inhabitants. The forest dwelling Utes subsisted on wild game and fish, whereas the desert Utes would travel to find their food and resources.

The names of the seven bands and the areas they lived in before the coming of the Europeans are as follows:
  1. The Mouache band lived on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, from Denver, south to near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
  2. The Capote band inhabited the San Luis Valley in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande and in New Mexico especially around the region where the towns of Chama and Tierra Amarilla are now located.
  3. The Weeminuche occupied the valley of the San Juan River and its northern tributaries in Colorado and northwestern New Mexico.
  4. The Tabeguache (also called Uncompahgre) lived in the valleys of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre Rivers in Colorado.
  5. The Grand River Utes (also called Parianuche) lived along the Grand River in Colorado and Utah.
  6. The Yampa (also called Yamparicas or White River) band inhabited the Yampa River Valley and adjacent land.
  7. The Uintah Utes inhabited the Uintah Basin, including the Great Salt Lake Basin.
Early Ute History

Ute Indians (who call themselves Nuciu, "The People") are Southern Numic speakers of the Numic (Shoshonean) language family.   Utes practiced a flexible subsistence system elegantly adapted to their environments. Extended family groups moved through known hunting and gathering territories on a seasonal basis, taking advantage of the periodic abundance of food and material resources in different ecozones. Men hunted deer, antelope, buffalo, rabbits, and other small mammals and birds with bows and arrows, spears, and nets. Women gathered seed grasses, piƱon nuts, berries, roots, and greens in woven baskets, and processed and stored meat and vegetal materials for winter use. Utes took advantage of the abundance of fish in Utah Lake and other fresh water sources, drying and storing them for trade and winter use.

Cultivation of food plants was an early contact adaptation limited to the Pahvant. Ute families lived in brush wickiups and ramadas in the western and southern areas and used hide tepees in the eastern reaches of Ute territory. Men and women kept their hair long or braided, and depending on the region and season wore woven fiber skirts and sandals, rabbit skin robes, and leather shirts, skirts, and leggings. They made baskets and skin bags for carrying their goods, as well as implements of bone, stone, and wood.

Early History - 1680

Utes acquired horses from the Spanish by 1680. Especially in the eastern areas, horses increased Ute mobility, allowing them to focus on big game mammals and adopt Plains Cultural elements. Horses facilitated Ute raiding and trading, making them respected warriors and important middlemen in the southwestern slave and horse trade. While involved in this trade with Hispanic settlers, Utes remain independent from colonial control. With the exception of the 1776 Dominguez and Escalante expedition, few explorers ventured into Ute territory until the 1810s when a growing number of trappers passed through or established temporary trading posts.

1847 - Mormons

Beginning in 1847, Utes experienced the full impact of Euro-American contact with the arrival of Mormon settlers.

The initial Mormon settlement in the Salt Lake Valley occurred in a joint occupancy zone between Utes and Shoshones, and therefore caused little immediate disruption. But as settlers moved south along the Wasatch Front, they began competing with Utes for the scarce resources of these valuable oasis environments.

1853-1854 – The Walker War

Pushed from the land, Utes led by Wakara retaliated in a series of subsistence raids against isolated Mormon settlements. The Walker War (1853-54) signaled the beginning of Ute subsistence displacement and the "open hand, mailed fist" Indian policy of Brigham Young--feeding when possible, fighting when necessary.

Between 1855 and 1860, Indian Agent Garland Hurt organized Indian farms at Spanish Fork, San Pete, and Corn Creek, hoping to encourage Utes to settle down and farm. Believing that staying in one place meant certain starvation--a belief borne out by consistent crop failures--Utes resisted agrarian settlement and the farms collapsed.

The Northern Utes

Northern Ute Flag and Seal

Four of the seven above mentioned clans (Tabeguache, Grand, Yampa, and Uintah) now comprise the Northern Utes on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation with headquarters at the town of Fort Duchesne, Utah.

The Uintah and Ouray reservation is located in Northeastern Utah (Fort Duchesne) approximately 150 miles east of Salt Lake City on US Highway 40. The reservation is located within a three-county area known as the "Uintah Basin". It is the second largest Indian Reservation in the United States that covers over 4.5 million acres.

History of the Northern Utes


1861 – Uinta Valley Reservation

In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln set aside the two-million-acre Uintah Valley Reservation for the Ute bands. This was the beginning of the present Northern Ute Tribe.

1863-1868 – Black Hawk War

Autenquer, a San Pitch war leader, rallied Ute and Southern Paiute resistance to removal in a series of attacks and subsistence raids known as the Black Hawk War (1863-68).

1869 – Tabby-to-kwana

By 1869, starving and suffering from Mormon retaliation, Utes turned to civil leader Tabby-to-kwana who led them onto the reservation.

Utes found an inhospitable environment and little prepared for them in the Uintah Basin. Throughout the 1870s these Uintah Utes continued to hunt and gather in the surrounding country while agents cultivated fields in an effort to convince them to settle down.

1881 – The White River Utes moved from Colorado to Utah.

Things became more difficult in 1881 when the federal government forcibly removed the Yamparka and Parianuc (White River) Utes from Colorado to the Uintah Reservation.

1882 – Ouray Reservation

The following year the government moved the peaceful Taviwac (Uncompahgre) Utes to the adjoining two-million-acre Ouray Reservation.

Removal and consolidation on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation generated a number of problems for and between the Uintah, White River and Uncompahgre bands. Suspicion and jealousy over land and money, diminished opportunities to travel and hunt, and attitudes towards farming divided the bands. These problems were compounded in 1897 and again in 1905 when the government allotted the reservations and opened the remainder for white entry. Each Ute received an 80 to 160 acre plot for farming and access to a communal grazing district. In the end, allotment reduced Ute land holdings by over 85 percent. The construction of expensive irrigation projects did little to improve Ute farming and led to extensive leasing and the alienation of yet more land. Allotment ultimately limited the potential for a successful livestock industry.

1906-1908 – 400 Utes fled to South Dakota

Short-term resistance to allotment and directed change included the Ute outbreak of 1906-08, during which nearly 400 Utes fled to South Dakota. Longer-term resistance included adoption of the Sun Dance religion and Peyotism--attempts to bind the people together and maintain an Indian identity.

Early 1900s – Northern Ute Tribe was formed

During the early twentieth century, Utes worked or leased their land, performed wage labor for area whites or the Indian agency, or made do on the modest per capita distributions from the tribe. During the 1920s and 1930s they organized a business council composed of elected representatives from each of the three bands and incorporated as the Northern Ute Tribe. Between 1909 and 1965 the tribe was part of several successful federal claims cases, but most of the money judgments went to finance the irrigation project, tribal operations, or was tied up in regulated trusts and individual accounts.

1954 – Affiliated Ute Citizens formed

In 1954, following a longstanding dispute within the tribe, Northern Utes accepted a division of assets and the termination of federal recognition for people with blood quantums less than one-half. The mixed-bloods organized as the Affiliated Ute Citizens.

1970s and 1980s – Oil and gas developments

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Northern Utes benefited from increased oil and gas development on reservation lands in the form of jobs and severance taxes. The Northern Utes have also been key players in the Central Utah Project, receiving money and stored water in return for the diversion of their watershed runoff into central Utah. Their political clout increased in 1986 when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the tribe's right to exercise "legal jurisdiction" over all pre-allotment reservation lands, giving them an undefined amount of legal control over the land and citizens of eastern Utah.

1990s – Powerful force

In the 1990s, the Northern Ute Tribe boasts nearly 3,000 members and is an increasingly powerful force in local and state politics. They are active in maintaining their language and cultural traditions while improving the economic situation of tribal members through education, tribal enterprises, and planned development.

The Southern Utes


Southern Ute Flag and Seal

Of the bands mentioned above, the first two (Mouache and Capote) make up the present day Southern Utes with headquarters at Ignacio, Colorado.

History of the Southern Utes

1879 - Formation of the Southern Ute Tribe

In 1879 the Southern Ute Tribe, the Weeminuche, Capote and Muache Bands were all that remained in Colorado. They were placed on a temporary reservation in Southwest Colorado along the Colorado/New Mexico Border, 15 miles wide and 110 miles long.  Finally in the US gave the Southern Ute Tribe the reservation land.  At this time the Southern Ute Indians divided into two separate reservations, the Southern Utes and the Ute Mountain Utes.  This was based on the option of allotments in severalty offered by the US Government.
 
The group that is now known as the Southern Ute Tribe agreed to the allotments and settled on the eastern half of this original reservation.  Their land became a checkerboard reservation when the un-allotted land was sold to non-Indians. 

The other group now known as the Ute Mountain Ute opposed the allotments.  They chose to live in a more traditional way with tribal lands held in common, and settled on the western half of the original reservation.

The Southern Ute Tribe are of the Capote and Muache Bands.  Their  first leaders were Buckskin Charlie and Severo.

Buckskin Charlie

1925 – 1926 – Court Action

The Ute Tribes began to depend on agriculture and ranching.  The Southern Ute Tribe faced the same problem of illegal grazing of thousands of head of cattle and sheep on reservation land of Spanish and Anglo stock.  This forced the game animals on which they depended to leave.  The Utes lacked the water they needed to sustain themselves because the federal government failed to uphold their water rights.  Corruption of Indian Agents and their abuses caused the Utes to seek recourse through the courts, Congress and the Department of The Interior (1925-1926).

1934 - 1936  Constitution

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 emphasized tribal sovereignty and the restoring of Native cultures.  The Southern Ute Tribe established a new Tribal Government and adopted a Constitution in 1936.

Water Problems

The Southern Ute Tribe’s checkerboard reservation brought it’s people in contact with non-Indians from the start (1895).  These people were the Spanish Settlers (Ute-Spanish interaction goes way back to 1598) and the Anglo Settlers.  These three groups were competing for natural resources, farm land, grazing land, forests and water.  In addition the D&RG Railroad laid its tracks across the Reservation bringing in more non-Indian people.  Even though six rivers crossed their reservation they had little access to that water for farming or ranching.  Not until the Vallecito Reservoir was constructed (1940’s) did they get some of the water they needed, but not enough for all their requirements. 

The Colorado Ute Indian Right Settlement (1986) was an agreement to provide both Ute Reservations with municipal, irrigation and industrial water needs.  This was to be diverted from the Dolores River (McPhee Reservoir) and the “someday to be constructed” Animas-La Plata water project. 

Present Prosperity – Coal, Oil and Gas

The Southern Ute Tribe has vast coal deposits that cannot be mined until adequate industrial water becomes available.  One Southern Ute venture was the Sky Ute Downs, an equestrian facility a race track (1973).  Another project was the Sky Ute Casino and Resort.  It includes a Cultural Center and Convention Center (1993). 

Oil and natural gas was discovered (1940’s) on the Southern Ute reservation.  With the resulting income from these resources living conditions started to improve.  In 1975 the Utes joined the Council of Energy Tribes (CERT).  This after years of the mishandling of their resources by the BIA and USGS. 

Finally in 1982 the Mineral Development Act allowed the Ute Tribes to arbitrate the disposition of those resources for themselves. The Southern Ute Tribe was first in the nation to obtain complete ownership of their oil and gas wells.  They formed the Red Willow Production Co. Oil and Gas Production business.
The Ute Mountain Utes

Ute Mountain Ute Flag and Seal

The Weeminuches are now called the Ute Mountain Utes with headquarters at Towaoc, Colorado.

History of the Ute Mountain Utes

1879 - Formation of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
In 1879 the Southern Ute Tribe, the Weeminuche, Capote and Muache Bands were all that remained in Colorado. They were placed on a temporary reservation in Southwest Colorado along the Colorado/New Mexico Border, 15 miles wide and 110 miles long.  Finally in the US gave the Southern Ute Tribe the reservation land.  At this time the Southern Ute Indians divided into two separate reservations, the Southern Utes and the Ute Mountain Utes.  This was based on the option of allotments in severalty offered by the US Government. 
The group that is now known as the Southern Ute Tribe agreed to the allotments and settled on the eastern half of this original reservation.  Their land became a checkerboard reservation when the un-allotted land was sold to non-Indians. 
The other group now known as the Ute Mountain Ute opposed the allotments.  They chose to live in a more traditional way with tribal lands held in common, and settled on the western half of the original reservation.
The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s people are of the Weeminuche Band.  Their first leader was Chief Ignacio. 


Chief Ignacio

1925 – 1926 – Court Action
The Ute Tribes began to depend on agriculture and ranching.  Both tribes faced the same problem of illegal grazing of thousands of head of cattle and sheep on reservation land of Spanish and Anglo stock.  This forced the game animals on which they depended to leave.  The Utes lacked the water they needed to sustain themselves because the federal government failed to uphold their water rights.  Corruption of Indian Agents and their abuses caused the Utes to seek recourse through the courts, Congress and the Department of The Interior (1925-1926).
1934 - 1940  Constitution
The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 emphasized tribal sovereignty and the restoring of Native cultures.  The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe established a new Tribal Government and adopted a Constitution in 1940.
After 1940 – Prosperity
The Ute Mountain Utes settled on arid land.  It was difficult to eke out a living in the desert.  The lack of water prevented them from developing both ranching and farming.  Finally in 1987 they obtained water for agriculture from the McPhee Reservoir, and in 1990 domestic water was piped to their reservation from Cortez, Colorado.  The Ute Mountain Utes were isolated from the beginning and avoided contact with non-Indians.  In order to bring income to the reservation they began businesses to attract tourist trade, such as the Ute Mountain Pottery Corporation (1970), the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park (1971) which contains Anasazi Ruins, and casino gambling (1992).  Other successful undertakings included the control over their oil and gas leasing and development, the Farm and RanchEnterprise (1984) and the Weeminuche Construction Authority (1985).
Oil and natural gas was discovered (1940’s) on both reservations.  With the resulting income from these resources living conditions started to improve.  In 1975 the Utes joined the Council of Energy Tribes (CERT).  This after years of the mishandling of their resources by the BIA and USGS.  Finally in 1982 the Mineral Development Act allowed the Ute Tribes to arbitrate the disposition of those resources for themselves.
Chronology Maps

The following maps show the chronology of the Ute Reservations:






Notice the San Juan Cession


Notice: The White River Clan was moved to the Uintah- Ouray Reservation

UTE CHIEFS


Chief Ouray
Born: Nov. 13, 1833, in Taos County, New Mexico
1859: Marries Chipeta
1868: Treaty with Kit Carson
1873: Brunot Treaty
Died: August 24, 1880
more





Chief Ignacio
born: 1826, San Juan, Colorado
youth: Revenge
1870s: Skilled negotiator
1886: Gave testimony in the Senate
Died: 9 December 1913, Montezuma, Colorado
more



Chief Walker
Birth: 1808
Youth: Learned Spanish and English
Trader
1850: Becomes a Mormon
1853: Walker War
Death: 28 January 1855
more

Family Life
The Utes practised polygamy. A man would customarily marry sisters. He would also take into his family the widow of his brother.