Was Chipeta Really A Queen?

Chipeta___Queen__4985269937fc5If she was not a queen, why did I use the title Chipeta: Queen of the Utes for my first book about her?
          The reference to Chipeta as “Queen” came from an incident that occurred on August 27, 1872. It was the opening day of a treaty council with the Utes and U.S. Government representatives.
          A reporter for the Rocky Mountain News was present. He offered a sarcastic description of Chipeta:
“This afternoon the commissioners were waited upon by the queen of the Utes – Madame Ure [Ouray] I suppose she is called – who swept down in all her royal stations, attired in a skirt of buckskin, a pair of moccasins, an old shawl, and a lot of uncombed hair.”
          The reporter used the word queen to make fun of Chipeta.
          The first definition of “queen” in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “the wife or widow of a king…or a tribal chieftain.”
          Ouray was not a chosen Ute chief. However, government officials saw him as a chief. He spoke for the Ute delegations that met with officials in Washington.
          Ouray and the Indian Agent both spoke Spanish well. After discussion with the delegation members, Ouray stated the Ute positions in Spanish. The Agent translated into English. For this reason, the men in Washington saw Ouray as the spokesman, and therefore, the chief.
          In the eyes of the U.S. Government, Chipeta was the wife of a tribal chieftain. “Queen” was a fitting title.
          As I researched Chipeta’s life, I came to appreciate her strength. She demonstrated courage in many challenging situations. Her life was not easy. In the end, she was honored by her people as a wise and respected elder.

The book is available from Western Reflections Publishing: <a href="http://www.westernreflectionspublishing.com/index.php/

Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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An April Fool about Chipeta

In honor of Chipeta’s recognition this month by the National Women’s History Project, here is a story about Chipeta that originally appeared on this blog on April 1, 2009

On April 1, 1883, The Denver Republican newspaper offered a tongue-in-cheek report that, after Ouray’s death and the Ute relocation to Utah, Chipeta married a White River Ute with the image-laden name “Toomuchagut”. The humorous piece was taken as fact by some, but it carried a shred of truth.
          Chipeta did have a second mate after Ouray’s death. She was counted with her husband, Accumooquats, in the 1885 Indian census taken at the Ouray Agency, Utah.


          Oddly enough, the 1885 Indian census also records a Ute man named Occuptoomuchakut living on the Ouray Agency with his wife, Tahveeah, and three small children.

Read about Chipeta and other National Women’s History Month honorees in the Women’s History Gazette.

Caswop’s Chickens

Shan Kive in Garden of the Gods 1912

Shan Kive in Garden of the Gods 1912

In honor of Chipeta’s recognition during National Women’s History Month, here is another little story about Chipeta. It reveals her long held friendships and her appreciation of kindness offered.

In August of 1912, Chipeta joined a group of Utes who were invited to participate in an event called Shan Kive which was held in the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. They travelled by horseback.
          On their return trip to the Utah reservation, the Utes camped along the Gunnison River near Delta, Colorado. When a local man named Newton Castle learned that Chipeta was with the group, he rode out to see her. He had made friends with Chipeta when he worked as a trader in the 1880s.
          Chipeta welcomed “Caswop,” as she had always called him. Castle took Chipeta and her ten-year-old neice to his home to spend the night with his family. The Utes were leaving for Utah the next morning and the Castles gave Chipeta a few live chickens in a wire cage. They thought she could roast the chickens at the next camp and eat them on the trip back to Utah.
          As they watched Chipeta ride away on her horse with only a blanket for a saddle, the Castles thought they had seen and heard the last of the old Indian woman.
          The following spring, Mrs. Castle was surprised to greet three young Ute women at her front door. They said Chipeta had sent them to thank the Castle’s and to report on the chickens. The birds were all alive and well and producing eggs and offspring.

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Published in: on March 24, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Named By Chipeta

In honor of Chipeta’s recognition during National Women’s History Month, here is one of my favorite stories about Chipeta. It reveals her love of children, and a sense of humor.

On visits to the town of Ouray, Utah, Chipeta often stopped in at Matt Curry’s trading post. One day a white man known as Buckskin Shirt came toward her, pushing along in front of him a small boy. The man introduced his nephew, George Emery Stewart. He said the boy wanted to meet her.

          Chipeta bent her face down close to the boy’s and stroked his cheek. She spoke to him in English and the poor boy looked like he might cry.

          Reverting to speaking Ute, Chipeta commented to herself about “the poor little frightened boy.”

          George responded in Ute and said he was not frightened. He had picked the language from his Ute playmates.

          After that meeting, George went out of his way to speak to Chipeta whenever he saw her in town.

          And Chipeta always smiled and greeted him with, “Hello, little frightened boy.”

          George hated that name. One day he got up the courage to tell Chipeta that he hoped she would not always call him a frightened boy.

          Chipeta smiled and nodded in understanding. She thought for a moment, then said she would give him a new name. “From now on I will call you Uviev.”    

          George was pleased but he had to ask what the name meant.

          “Walks like a turkey,” Chipeta said with a smile.

          Now you might think George would not be happy with this name either. But, he was. He was very proud of this name that Chipeta had bestowed upon him. From that day on he was known as Uviev among his Ute friends.

Adapted from Tales from Indian Country by George Emery Stewart, Jr. (compiled by his granddaughter-in-law MaryEllen Stewart Gardner), SunRise Publishing, 1997. 
About George Emery Stuart: http://www.pennygardner.com/uintah_basin_history.html

Published in: on March 17, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chipeta – Woman of Character, Courage and Commitment

In honor of Chipeta’s recognition during National Women’s History Month, here is a post about her 1880 testimony before a Congressional Committee investigating the Meeker Massacre in Colorado. This post originally appeared on this blog March 24, 2009.

Chipeta by Mathew Brady, Washington, D.C., 1880

Chipeta by Mathew Brady, Washington, D.C., 1880

On March 19, 1880 Chipeta entered the Capitol building and took the witness stand facing a group of Congressmen seated behind a long table. Not yet 40 years old, she had lived her entire life in the Rocky Mountains. She was the wife of Chief Ouray and his most trusted advisor and confidant. She travelled to Washington, D.C. with a group of Ute chiefs. Secretary of Interior Carl Schurz welcomed her as a member of the delegation rather than as a tag-along wife.

Her upcoming testimony was announced by The Washington Post, describing her as “a fat, good-humored looking squaw.” The reason for her appearance in the capitol city was an event that had captured national attention the previous year. A group of Northern Utes attacked a column of soldiers, murdered their Indian agent, Nathan Meeker, and all male employees of the agency. They spirited three white women and two children into the high mountains as hostages. Newspapers across the nation followed the unfolding events for the next 30 days until the hostages were safely released.

In the Congressional hearing, Chipeta responded (through an interpreter) to ten questions about where she was when the massacre took place and what caused the events. Most of her answers amounted to “I don’t know” because she had not been present at the massacre. She told the committee some of the Indians said Agent Meeker “was a bad man, that he talked bad…Some of them claimed that he was always writing to Washington and giving his side of the case, and all the troubles at the agency…I do not know whether that is what they killed him for, or what they did it for.”


Source: Testimony in Relation to Ute Outbreak, 46th Congress, 2nd Session, House Miscellaneous Documents no. 38, 1880, 91.

Chipeta Honored

207px-Chipeta_(Ute_Tribe)National Women’s History Month 2014
Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment
          Each year, March is designated as National Women’s History Month to ensure that the history of American women will be recognized and celebrated in schools, workplaces, and communities throughout the country.
          This year’s theme, Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come.
          The lives and work of the 2014 Honorees span the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 
          Chipeta is one of the women honored this year.          
          Chipeta (1843 – 1924)
          Indian Rights Advocate and Diplomat
Chipeta was a Ute Indian leader, diplomat, and peacemaker who used her influence with Chief Ouray (her husband) to avert a war between the Ute tribe and the White settlers. In 1880 she was included in a Ute delegation to negotiate a reservation resettlement treaty in Washington DC.

Read about all the honorees

Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chipeta Honored

Chipeta is one of twelve women to be honored in March, 2014 during National Women’s History Month. The theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.

Here is a link to the announcement listing all twelve women.

Watch this site for further information about the honors ceremony.

Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 6:08 am  Comments (1)  

Did Chipeta Have Children?

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. John Patterson, Mrs. Buckskin Charlie (Toowee), pappoose Japanese

According to Chipeta’s great nephew, when a couple had no children, relatives might give them a child. A brother of Ouray married a sister of Chipeta. They gave a baby to Chipeta and Ouray. This little girl, born about 1863, was called Cooroopits. She grew up to marry a Ute known as Tom Patterson. Cooroopits is often found in photos of Chipeta taken when she travelled from the reservation to visit friends in Colorado in the early 1900s.
          In accounts by people who visited Chipeta and Ouray in the 1860s, three other children are mentioned. Living with Chipeta and Ouray were a girl called Sowanarotance and boys called Antonio and Atchu. In a 1904 census taken on the Utah reservation, Antonio (born about 1855) appears to be living in the camp with Chipeta and McCook’s family.
          Chipeta and her second husband, called Accoomooquats, are listed in the 1885 census of Utes living on the Utah reservation. Also listed in their teepee are six boys ranging in age from 5 to 15: Duascuno, Sevito, Guadelupe, Jose La Cross, Francisco and John Peto. When land was allotted to individual Utes in Utah, John Peto received land near Chipeta’s. In 1906 he is called “J.P. Chipeta” in a list of Utes being compensated for land taken from them for construction of a toll road.

This series of posts attempts to answer the most frequent questions asked by students who visited this site in 2012 (based on search terms used).

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection 

Chipeta and Ouray in Technology

Photo by Sam Barricklow courtesy National Weather Service

Computers named “ouray” and “chipeta” processed weather data at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) from 1995-2002. NCAR is a nongovernmental research institute focused on atmospheric and earth system science.
          The ouray and chipeta computers were part of the J90 series of vector-processor machines built by Cray Research, Inc. They were used in weather research and national security projects. In 2002 they were replaced by newer technology. Chipeta was the last Cray J90 decommissioned on September 3, 2002.
          See real time weather  forecasting tools provided by NCAR computer technology.

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Name “Chipeta” in Africa

While there is no apparent connection to the Ute or Spanish name of Ouray’s wife, Chipeta is a family or tribal name, in parts of Africa, particularly Malawi.
     The name Chipeta appears in letters written by Dr. David Livingstone during his travels in Africa in the 1860s. Copies of a few such letters were published on June 3, 1868 in the Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, California). 
          On February 1, 1867, from a stop at Bemba on the way to Zanzibar, Livingstone wrote to the Earl of Clarendon: 
“…The people…under different names as Kanthunda, Chipeta, Echewa, etc. Their land is high and cold; their huts are mattered all over, even on the roofs, for the sake of [illegible] by night. They are great agriculturists, and so many by number that one village is scarcely a mile from some other…”
          On February 2, 1867 Livingstone wrote to Sir Roderick Murchison from Bemba:
“…The Kanthunda live on the mountains that rise out of the plateges. The Chipeta live on the plains, the Eschewa still further north.  
          An August 29, 1999 article in The Seattle Times reports that the modern country of Malawi grew out of Livingstone’s 19th-century expedition.. “We think warmly of Dr. Livingstone,” said Sam Chipeta, a clerk in Lilongwe, the capital…He is basically known as a man who really helped with the abolition of the slave trade.”
          In the Chichewa language of Africa, chipeta means “tall grass or savanna“. The people who speak Chichewa trace their origins to the Maravi who migrated from the lower basin of the Congo in Central Africa and eventually settled in the land mass now covered by Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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