Did the Utes Use Sign Language?

Rushing Bear demonstrates sign for "now"

Rushing Bear demonstrates sign for “now”

In his book Our Wild Indians Richard Irving Dodge shared what he learned about the Indians’ use of sign language.
          “Plains Indians,” according to Dodge, “used sign even to accompany speaking among themselves. Talking with their hands was just habit to them.”
         But Dodge noticed that other tribes made far less use of sign language.
          Dodge once asked Chief Ouray about Ute sign language. “Ouray told me his people never used the sign language among themselves,” Dodge reported. “Most of the [Ute] warriors had picked up a little smattering of this language and used it in their [communication] with the Plains Indians or with the whites.”
          Similarly, “most of [the Utes] had acquired a slight knowledge of Spanish by and for use in their trade with Mexicans and Apaches.”

From: Our Wild Indians: Thirty-three Years of Personal Experience Among the Red Men of the Great West by Richard Irving Dodge, A.D. Worthington and Company, Hartford, CT, 1882, page 384.

Photo from Smithsonian collection

Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Indian Communication

Ute Scout 1899“All persons who have been among Indians are astonished at the wonderful speed and accuracy of Indian rumors,” reported Richard Irving Dodge, longtime western military officer in the 1800s. “Something occurs today; it is known tomorrow at distances that appear incredible.”
          “In September, 1880 an outbreak occurred at Fort Reno, sixty miles from this post (Cantonment, Indian Territory). The Indian scouts here knew and informed me of it before I heard of it by the telegraph line between the two posts.
          “So, also, when Ouray was sick; his condition was known every day by us, though we were quite a hundred miles away, and the country between us exceedingly difficult.” [Dodge probably refers to Ouray’s final illness in 1880.]

Photo Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection 

Quoted material from: Our Wild Indians: Thirty-three Years of Personal Experience Among the Red Men of the Great West by Richard Irving Dodge, A.D. Worthington and Company, Hartford, CT, 1882, page 344.

LIGHTING THE HOLIDAYS

christmas-lights-110661300062462IPdThe first string of electric outdoor Christmas lights was created by Thomas Edison in 1880. He hung them on his Menlo Park Laboratory where passengers on the nearby railroad line would see them.

Two years later Edison’s partner, Edward H. Johnson, wrapped a string of red, white and blue light bulbs around the Christmas tree in his own home.

In 1895 President Grover Cleveland introduced colorful electric lights to the family Christmas tree in the White House.

The first National Christmas tree with electric lights was lit by President Calvin Coolidge on Christmas Eve 1923.

Information from Everyday Mysteries, Fun Science Facts, Library of Congress

Meriam Report, Part 3

Indian Boarding SchoolThe 1928 Meriam Report of the condition of Indians on reservations drew conclusions about the effectiveness of government policies toward Indians.
          The report noted, “It almost seems as if the government assumed that some magic in individual ownership of property would…prove an educational civilizing factor…unfortunately this policy has for the most part operated in the opposite direction”
          The report stated that many of the Indians lived on lands “from which a trained and experienced white man could scarcely wrest a reasonable living.” The report indicated that some land given to Indians was not suitable for farming. Such land had “little value for agricultural operations other than grazing.”

Source: Meriam Report

Meriam Report, Part 2

Girls Indian Boarding SchoolAbout Indian boarding schools, the Mariam report noted,
“provisions for the care of the Indian children in boarding schools are grossly inadequate.”
          The report went on to state that “boarding schools provided poor diet, were overcrowded, did not provide sufficient medical services, were supported by student labor, and relied on a uniform curriculum rather than raising teacher standards.”
          “The Indian Service should encourage promising Indian youths to continue their education beyond the boarding schools and to fit themselves for professional, scientific, and technical callings,” the report suggested. “Not only should the educational facilities of the boarding schools provide definitely for fitting them for college entrance, but the Service should aid them in meeting the costs.”

Source: Meriam Report

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Meriam Report, Part 1

New Students Carlisle Indian School (before)

New Students Carlisle Indian School (before)


In 1926 the U.S. Secretary of Interior authorized an independent study of educational, industrial, social, and medical activities of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The study was also designed to evaluate the overall condition of Indians on reservations.

Same students after being “civilized”


The resulting Meriam Report was published in 1928. It suggested that education should integrate Indian children into the majority culture instead of educating them in separate institutions. Boarding schools for Indian children had been the norm. The report stated, “The most fundamental need in Indian education is a change in point of view.”                                        

  Source: Meriam Report

Published in: on October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Reservation School, 1926

SDC10339

In 1926, the school at the Uintah Ouray Agency had a capacity for 125 students. There were 129 children enrolled but average attendance was 118. The reservation school offered course work only through seventh grade.
          The Agency’s 1926 annual report includes school attendance:

301   Total school age children on reservation
239   Total eligible for school
  26   Attended non resident boarding school
129   Attended the reservation school
     4   Attended school on other reservations
   80   Attended public schools

          About this time, a national study of Indian Schools began. The resulting Meriam Report, issued in 1928, was critical of Indian Schools and other government policy on Indians.

Source: Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1926

Indian Inheritance Claims

00172138In fiscal year 1926, examiners of Indian inheritance claims determined 2039 legal heirs of Indians who had died. They approved 145 wills and disapproved 47. 
          Another 139 wills were reviewed and approved as to form during lifetime of the maker.
          Fees charged to the Indian heirs for this probate work by the 11 examiners in the field totaled $64,000. At the time of the report, $55,000 in such fees had been collected and deposited with the U.S. Treasury Department.

Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chipeta’s Allotment Land, Part 3

Utes- Mrs. John Marshall, pappoose Kate (daughter of Luke Snow), Chipeta, pappoose Scoop, Mrs. John Patterson, Mrs. Buckskin Charlie (Toowee), pappoose Japanese

Utes- Mrs. John Marshall, pappoose Kate (daughter of Luke Snow), Chipeta, pappoose Scoop, Mrs. Tom Patterson (Co-roo-poo-its), Mrs. Buckskin Charlie (Toowee), pappoose Japanese

In the hearing related to Chipeta’s property, Sam Alhandra testified that he had known Chipeta all his life. He said “she died about a year ago and was a very old woman.”
          He reported that Chipeta had no husband living and had no natural children. He confirmed that Chipeta had adopted James McCook as a small child. Before that she had “adopted his mother, Co-roo-poo-its, a daughter of a brother of Ouray.” Co-roo-poo-its was still living at the time of this testimony. Sam Alhandra signed the typed statement of this interview with his thumb print.
          Corass did not know his own age but the interpreter noted he was “74 years by records.” He confirmed what Sam Alhandra had stated and he, too, signed the typed statement with his thumb print.
          While the record of the hearing did not include a decision, the testimony appeared to verify that James McCook was Chipeta’s heir.

Sources: Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, “Heirship and Probate, 1925 and 1926

Interviews by Examiner of Inheritance, October 1925, http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/uaida/id/38091

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chipeta’s Allotment Land, Part 2

Jap Cornpeach and James McCook

Jap Cornpeach and James McCook

On 28 October 1925, Mr. P. L. Hallam, Examiner of Inheritance, took sworn statements from three Ute men regarding settlement of Chipeta’s estate. Hallam’s clerk, Marie Gilbert, served as Interpreter and also witness to the signed statements.
          The three men interviewed identified themselves as Uncompahgre Utes living near Randlett Utah.
          James McCook, age 41, was the person seeking to be named heir to Chipeta’s estate.
          Witnesses were Corass, age 74, and Sam Alhandra, age 46.
          When asked if Chipeta ever made a will, James McCook replied, “No. She just talked about making one.”
          James testified that Chipeta “raised me from the time I was a little baby.” He said his mother, Co-roo-poo-its, was a child of one of Chipeta’s sisters. He called Chipeta “grandmother.” According to James, Chipeta took him away from his mother and raised him. 
          James said Chipeta had no natural children. She had adopted James’ mother, Co-roo-poo-its, as a baby. He said, “Chipeta’s husband [Chief Ouray] was a relation of my mother [Co-roo-poo-its] and that is how they came to adopt her.” James testified that Co-roo-poo-its was not an orphan, that her mother was alive when Co-roo-poo-its became the daughter of Chipeta and Ouray.
Continued next week

Sources: Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, “Heirship and Probate, 1925 and 1926

Interviews by Examiner of Inheritance, October 1925, http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/uaida/id/38091

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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