Interview with Ouray, Part 4

From the New-York Tribune (New York,N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4


Ute man. Los Pinos 1874.

Having referred to the captains, sub-chiefs and head chiefs, it may be a good place in which to explain their respective positions and duties. When anything of national interest is to be deliberated, as the opening of a war, notice is given and a general mass meeting called of all the men in the tribe. There the pros and cons of the matter are fully discussed and weighted against on another.
         The matter is then referred to a council of the aged and influential chiefs of the tribe, many of whom have some authority and are termed sub-chiefs, who render a decision and arrange a mode of action, the execution of which belongs to the captains.
         In these deliberations no woman has any voice; or if by chance the sage advice of any woman is heeded the source is never recognized.
         When they go to war everything is in common. All the plans, tactics, and strategy to be employed are thoroughly understood by each man who, acting on this legitimate knowledge of the plans, looks out carefully that his own share of the work is well done. Thus all details of organization are rendered unnecessary, and the actual authority of the captains is so small as to amount to nothing.
         [The Utes] had learned from the experience of the wars with the Indians of the plains that when much authority is delegated to one man he is likely to abuse it for his own personal advantage; and, moreover, that jealousy toward him is sure to arise. It was especially pressed upon me to observe that the charge brought against them by those ignorant of their customs—that there was no system in the conduct of their affairs, and that they had no capability of organization—was untrue. On the contrary, their customs are uniform and universally respected, and they exhibit in their leaders just as much capacity for government as do any of the civilized nations of the earth. The only difference is, civilization presents greater complications.

This article was written by an unidentified member of the Hayden Survey team based on his August 27, 1874 interview with Ouray.

Photo courtesy the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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