Friday, November 9, 2012

The Uncompagre Ute Indians

I am using for my information the first three chapters of my Dad's thesis: Reluctant Immigrants of Utah: The Uncompahgre Utes.  My father is James W. Wardle and his thesis is available at the library at Utah State University.  These chapters talk about the history of the Utes, from their first beginning to their territory becoming part of the United States.  The traditional territory of the Uncompahgre was on the Utah, Colorado border and centrally located from North to South.  This area was close to the area of the Anasazi, and then the Fremont.  These groups coexisted for a time, and then ceased to exist about the same time, about 1300 A.D.  A lingering question for archeologist is to determine the cause of this extinction.
The first historical mention of the Utes was 1540 A.D. when they came in contact with Coronado's expedition to find the lost gold cities.  They were fist known as the Tabeguaches and later as the Uncompahgre.  Escalante documented them as being in the are of the confluence of the Dolores and Colorado rivers.  They were a desert nomadic people.  The Spaniards improved the lifestyle of the Tabeguache as they were introduced to the horse, and became more a Plains type Indian, hunting buffalo and living in teepees.  It also brought increased opportunities for trade.  They traded for horses, guns, needles and brandy.
No one is sure when they name of this group changed to Uncompahgre, nor the reason for the change.  During the early 1800s this area pertained to Spain, and then Mexico.  Early American explorations visited the area.  Lieutenant Zebulon Pike in 1806 visited the area, but was escorted by the Spanish to Chihuahua where he and his men were permitted to return to the United States.  American interest waned during the War of 1812.  However it picked up, and early explorers often met the same fate as Pike.  Over the years an American presence was allowed in the area with fur trappers and trading posts.  However it wasn't until the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that the relationship between this group of Native Americans and European settlers began to change.  This treaty signed in 1847, concluded the Mexican American War and this area became a part of the United States.

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