Ute Indians and Gold Seekers 1859

From his office in Santa Fe, J.L. Collins,  Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory, wrote about the conflicts between the Ute Indians and the gold seekers who were invading their territory.

September 17, 1859

To: Hon. A.B. Greenwood
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington city, D.C.

          A difficulty lately occurred between the miners operating about Pike’s Peak and the Tobawaches [Tabeguache Utes]. Several miners are reported to have been killed, and also some eight or nine Indians…
          …my position has always been that all Indians should be taught to respect an American wherever they meet one; but, on the other hand, it must be admitted that our countrymen often act with great imprudence in reference to the Indians. Two or three men will often venture into the Indian country, placing themselves entirely beyond the reach of protection, and at the mercy of the Indians…
          Men who are strangers to Indians, entirely unaccustomed to their habits and characters, are very apt, when they meet one, in place of showing him some act of kindness, to insult him by driving or, perhaps, kicking him out of camp. This is done without reflecting that they are surrounded by hundreds of Indians by whom they could be overpowered at half an hour’s notice.

Collins noted that gold seekers scattered throughout the mountains would be at great risk of trouble with the Tabeguache Utes. He recommended “that a treaty be at once negotiated with these Indians, and that an agent be placed in charge of them, to reside at Fort Garland or some one of the new settlements near Pike’s Peak.”

From the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the year 1859, New Mexico superintendency, pages 334-362


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