Saturday, May 28, 2016

Native American Biographies: Colorado Ute Chiefs: Colorow and Ouray

Colorow was chief of the Yampa Band of the Ute Nation.  The occupied the area around the Yampa River in northwest Colorado.  Colorow was large sized.  He could also be belligerent.  He had signed a couple early treaties, but was passed over when the government searched for a more conciliatory chief with whom to negotiate the removal of the Utes from Colorado.  The Yampa were combined with the White River near Meeker, Colorado.  Troops were coming to the reservation and Colorow felt their intent was to forcibly remove them.  The negotiated a halt, but the troops came anyway and were ambushed.  At the same time the agency was attacked, workers killed and women taken captive.  As a punishment the White River Band was ordered to Utah.  Colorow changed his allegiance to the Uncompaghre.  However the too were removed.  In a show of defiance Colorow and his men charged the federal line as they prepared to leave. The federal strength convinced them to pull up short.  As allows in the 1873 agreement Colorow and his month would annually return to the Yampa River area to hunt.  Colorado passed a law saying all must abide by local laws, including game laws.  Game wardens met them.  Shots were fired and a squaw camp burned with hides.  Judge before reaching Utah they were caught by the wardens and locals and a pitched battle took place.  Colorow was wounded.  Troops from Fort Duchesne arrived to escort the Indians home.  Fifteen had been killed.  Colorow would die from his wound a year later.
Ouray was chief of the Uncompaghre Ute Band.  He was also chosen by the United States Government as being the lead person with whom to negotiate in terms of treaties.  The Uncompaghre generally lived in the mountains of central Colorado.  they would also venture onto the plains to hun buffalo.  They saw there territory decreased on a couple of occasions, but still held most of western Colorado.  However and incident occurred in which the White River Utes attacked the BIA agency and killed the agent and several worker.  They also kidnapped several women.  Ouray and the Uncompaghre were not involved.  In fact Ouray arranged for the return of the women.  For whatever reason, this incident put into play a move to remove all the Utes from Colorado.  Ouray negotiated with the government to make the best deal he could.  There was some hesitance on the Native American part because Ouray received a stipend for his efforts from the government.  A deal was struck to remove the Uncompaghre to Utah.  However signatures were needed to ratify the treaty.  After obtaining the signatures from his own band, he traveled to the Southern Band to get signatures, and died enroute, August 1880.  A negotiator bribed Utes for the remaining signatures and the Uncompaghre were removed to the Uintah Ouray Reservation in 1881.   Ouray never lived on the reservation that bears his name.
Ignacio was leader of the Southern Utea.  He was a member of the Wiminuche Ute Band.  They were a semi nomadic tribe, venturing into San Juan, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.  During several treaties their area was reduced.  they first accepted a large reservation in western Colorado, which was later reduced.  Gold had been found in the area.  They finally accepted a smaller reservation in southwestern Colorado.  Ignacio's father was a medicine man.  He was killed by a man's family he had been treating when he died.  Ignacio took revenge on the family, killing all twelve members.  The southern Utes recognized Ignacio as their leader and not Ouray.  Ouray deferred to Ignacio in matters dealing with the southern Utes.  When Ouray died Ignacio was recognized as the chief for the southern Utes by the government.  They were able to stay in Colorado.

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