A New Reservation in Utah

In 1880, many of the Ute Indians were removed from Colorado and resettled on reservations in Utah. This was a result of the public outcry over the Meeker Massacre.  The land they were given was shockingly barren compared to their Rocky Mountain homeland. The Ouray Agency was a new reservation established for the Tabeguache Utes near the existing Uintah Agency.
          The 1885 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers a glimpse into life on the Utah reservation, three years after the Tabeguache Utes were relocated from Colorado. Of course, the report was written by the Indian Agent, J.F. Gardner (a white man).
          On August 12, 1885, Agent Gardner filed his second annual report. The agency office had been moved across the Green River to the former site of Fort Thornburgh. There were eleven buildings on the four-acre site, built of round logs (called stockade-built). Roofs were logs covered with dirt. Special Agent Leuders had repaired the buildings.
          Gardner said the buildings were fine in dry weather but “untenable in in the rainy season.” He had built a new agent’s house – a lathe and plaster dwelling 28 by 44 feet. The cost of the building was $1,994.54.
          A frame school house was also built at a cost of $800.00. It was 16 by 30 feet in size and needed to be plastered before ready for use. The school could accommodate thirty “day-scholars.” (There were no facilities for students to live at the school.)
         When the facility had been used by the Army, soldiers slept in tents surrounded by dirt embankments for protection. The embankments were removed and the flattend area seeded with grass.

<em>Content from “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885</em>


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Cynthia,
    Have you ever found documentation on a white boy being adopted by Chipeta and Ouray in the 1870’s?

    • Dave,

      No I have not found reference to a white boy adopted by Chipeta and Ouray. Do you have a name and/or other information about him? If so, I’ll be glad to look further.


      • The man’s name is Horace Grant Benson. He was born in September of 1863 in Denver, I think. He is an ancestor of my wife. Her parents tell the story that he ran away from home when he was nine and was rescued by the Piutes. Ouray and Chipeta took him under their wing and treated him as their son. When he was seventeen, Ouray told him he was free to leave. I have wondered about the validity of this story because with a famous couple like Ouray and Chipeta, I find it hard to believe something has not been mentioned about this experience. Also, Ouray died a month before Horace turned seventeen, so the time line does not quite match up. But, before I label the story as myth, I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some kind of variation.

      • David,

        I have never run across even a hint of Horace Grant Benson living with Ouray and Chipeta. There are four named children who lived with them during that period but all were Ute, as far as I know. I’ll see if I can turn up anything about him.


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