Leaving Colorado

High in the Rocky Mountains the temperature hovered near zero in the early hours of December 29, 1879. Before dawn, a delegation of twelve Ute Indians gathered on horseback at Los Pinos Agency to begin the long journey to Washington, D.C. Ouray and Chipeta led the delegation which included Uncompahgre Utes–Wass, Golata, Jocknick, Sieblo and Augustine–and White River Utes–Nickaagut (Jack), Sowawick, Toppaganta, Alhandra, and Unca Sam. Los Pinos Agency farmer William H. Berry served as interpreter. The group rode out before dawn escorted by General Hatch, Lieutenant Taylor, and ten soldiers.
           The 140 mile trip from Los Pinos to Saguache, Colorado took six days due to heavy snow on Cochetopa Pass. Joined by General Charles Adams and Otto Mears, the group spent the night at the Perry House Hotel in Alamosa. The soldiers fended off an angry mob that gathered outside the hotel, threatening to hang the Utes for the murders of white employees at the Meeker Agency four months earlier. The next morning the Ute delegation left town on the 6:20 am Denver & Rio Grande train.
          The delegation arrived at the South Pueblo station at 1:45 pm. Before they boarded another train to Chicago, General Adams led the group into the station to eat lunch. A crowd of angry local citizens gathered outside. They shook their fists and shouted “Hang the red devils.” The soldiers held back the crowd while Adams, Mears and Berry hurried the Utes to the eastbound train. People in the crowd threw rocks and lumps of coal at the Utes and one man hit Sowawick on the head with a club. When the Utes were safely aboard the train, the soldiers and railroad workers convinced the citizens to go home.
          Displays of hatred for the Utes did not end when they left Colorado. People in prairie towns gathered along the tracks to shake their fists and shout as the Utes passed by. Another mob waited at the Rock Island depot in Chicago. The Utes and their travelling companions worried about what waited for them in the nation’s capitol.

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