Chief Ouray

cc0307aTo learn more about Chipeta’s husband, Chief Ouray, read a brief bio on the Denver Public Library blog or the full biography Ouray Chief of the Utes by P. David Smith.

          This photo was taken in the 1870s by William Chamberlain in the Denver studio of William Henry Jackson.

Ouray’s Pipe and Pipe Bag

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This photo of Ouray was taken about 1863. He holds the ebony cane given to him by President Abraham Lincoln during his first trip to Washington with a delegation of Utes. Ouray also wears the Lincoln Peace Medal which was given to a few chiefs at the conclusion of the 1863 treaty conference held in Colorado.            
          History Colorado, Denver, has in it’s collection Ouray’s ceremonial pipe and pipe bag. You can see a picture of these items and read the description at: https://collectioncare.auraria.edu/content/ourays-pipe-and-pipe-bag-ute-indian-leader
Chipeta made Ouray’s clothing, mocassins, and pipe bag from deer or elk hides and decorated them with trade beads and possibly some natural materials such as seeds or quills.

News From Colorado, 1874

High country snow.

From the National Republican newspaper, May 26, 1874, Page 5

Commissioner of Indian Affairs E. P. Smith received the following letter from the Indian Agent at Los Pinos, Colorado :

Alfred Packer and party (21 miners) were visitng Ouray’s camp in winter. Ouray advised them to stay with the camp. Ten stayed. Five went on and died near Gunnison cattle camp. Packer was one of six men who left the first of February. Packer alone arrived at the Agency April 16th, apparently in good health.

Photo by E.A. Mills from the U.S. Geological Survey Photo Gallery

Interview with Ouray, Part 8

A VISIT TO A TRIBE OF UTES
New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

OBSERVATIONS IN A UTE VILLAGE

Their utensils consist almost entirely of what they have bought from the whites, iron and tin ware, but some peculiarly Indian manufactures are still in use, as for instance, gourd-shaped water-jars holding from two quarts to a gallon, made of close wickerwork, well pitched [waterproofed with pine pitch], one of which it is said, takes a squaw four days to make…
          The boys practice with bows and arrows and use them largely in getting small game; but the older ones are all well armed with Sharpes and Ballard rifles and the latest improved Winchester carbines. They have plenty of cartridges, too, and always wear revolvers, so that a favorite game, something like quoits [a game like horseshoes in which flat rings are tossed at a stake], is about the only use they find for their arrows.
          The tribe possesses some 6,000 horses—and almost 600,000 dogs—fine stock, too, which they have largely captured from the Cheyenne and Arapahos, who in turn stole them from Texas ranchers and Mexican herds. They take immense pride in this wealth, and each [man] manages to have a racer in his stud, the speed of which he will bet not only his “bottom dollar,” but his bed and board, if he thinks there is the least chance of winning. I was present at one of their races—the track is always a straight one—and it was an exciting scene I assure you.
          The greatest respect is exerted from one and all toward those older or greater in authority than they.
          They are hospitable to strangers. If a poor man comes among them and by his behavior gains their respect, he is furnished with a horse and good outfit, which he is at liberty to use as he pleases so long as he remains with them; and, when he chooses to leave, he is furnished the means for his journey.

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 U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.

Interview with Ouray, Part 7

A VISIT TO A TRIBE OF UTES
New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

SOUNDS OF A UTE VILLAGE

Views among the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Camp scene. Sketching. Dr. Hayden and Walter Paris. Colorado. 1874. (Stereoscopic view)

The noises which strike your ear are equally varied, running all the way from the squealing of a poor little papoose strapped in its coffin-like cradle, or the really melodious laughter of a squaw to the hoarse whinnies of a hundred horses and the ringing report of a revolver.
          The one sound though which will attract your attention, and which you will never fail to hear, is the monotonous droning drama in the medicine man’s tent, generally accompanied by the more monotonous chanting of a series of notes in the minor key which is neither song nor howl nor chant, and which could go on endlessly if it wasn’t occasionally stopped by a yelp from the leader. The young bucks enjoy this singing and swing their bodies in time with a seriousness of countenance that is very funny to a white man.
          I have seen two different drums among them: one nothing more than buckskin tied tightly over the mouth of a jar, and the other made of raw hide stretched very tense over a broad hoop, so that the shape was that of a sieve.

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 U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library with desciption as written by a Hayden photographer.

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Ouray, Part 6

A VISIT TO A TRIBE OF UTES.
New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

A UTE VILLAGE DESCRIBED

Part of a Ute camp at Los Pinos with sheep and goats grazing in foreground. 1874. William Henry Jackson (cropped from a stereograph).

…there are often 80 or 90 lodges [teepees] in each camp. These lodges are all nowadays made of cotton cloth furnished by the Government, are conical in form, supported on several slender poles meeting at the top, where the cloth is so disposed as to make a sort of flap or guard, set by the wind in order to cause a proper draught. A little low opening in one side makes a door which is usually closed by a flap of hide or an old blanket.

Teepees in background show effects of smoke on canvas. 1874. William Henry Jackson (cropped from larger photo).

           The white cloth soon becomes begrimed with smoke at the top, which in time extends downward and deepens, until you have a perfect gradation of color from the white base through ever deepening smoke browns to the sooty blackness of the apex, adding greatly to their beauty. Besides this coloration, for which their owners are not directly responsible, the lodges are often painted in bright colors, particularly about the doorways, and in a band around the base; and usually there will be one or two yellow, or blue, or striped lodges in a camp, giving a picturesque variety to the scene.
           About each teepee (lodge) or groups of teepees—for they cluster together here and there in no sort of order—you will ordinarily find[:]
several little huts of evergreen branches called wicky-ups;
fires with queer kettles hanging over them;
frames hung with skins in process of tanning and softening;
buffalo robes staked on the ground to dry or to be painted by the squaws at leisure times;
piles of all sorts of truck—Indian, Mexican, American and nondescript, among which papooses play…
          [P]onies stroll and entangle long lariats of braided raw-hide, dogs bark, and indifferent warriors in gay suits smoke with stoical laziness.

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

Photo courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Ouray, Part 5

A VISIT TO THE TRIBE OF UTES.
New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

RESERVATION LIFE

Tower Mountain, opposite Howardsville, Bakers Park. Upon its nearby perpendicular fact of 3,000 feet are exposed a number of quartz veins, traversing its whole length. The one cutting down diagonally from the left is the Mammoth lode. Most of the others are claimed as mineral-bearing veins. San Juan County, Colorado. 1874.

For the last few years the [Ute] nation had probably been decreased in numbers, especially by the ravages of small-pox, which was purposely communicated to them, it is said, by some traders with whom the Utes were unwilling to trade. Some Indians having taken the disease from the infected clothing sold them, others were advised to be vaccinated, but were instead inoculated with the disease…so the terrible story goes, by unprincipled quacks in the towns south of them. The epidemic raged with fearful power and hundreds of families were exterminated…
          For a number of years they have been supposed to live upon the reservation, which embraces some 14,000,000 acres in South-Western Colorado, and is the largest Indian reservation in the country. But the fact is that they are in its valley only in the Winter, roaming during the Summer all over the Territory, particularly in the dark country and west of Denver, where they hunt buffalo. From about the 1st of August until it is time for them to retire to their Winter quarters in the Uncompahgre Valley, they keep near their respective agencies and live on the rations which are dealt out to them by the Government.

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

Photo by William Henry Jackson, with his notes, courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.

Published in: on April 9, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Ouray, Part 4

A VISIT TO THE TRIBE OF UTES.
From the New-York Tribune (New York,N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

RANK WITHIN THE TRIBE

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.

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Interview with Ouray, Part 3

A VISIT TO THE TRIBE OF UTES.
New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.) October 08, 1874, page 4

ORGANIZATION OF THE TRIBE

Ouray by William Henry Jackson taken at Los Pinos 1874.

[After obtaining horses, the Utes] changed their attitude of defense to one of offense and used the war hotly against their old enemies, refusing to fight the Spaniards, as nearly all of the village tribes south of these were doing. It was in these raids that they first obtained and learned to use fire arms, capturing them from the plains Indians who had been visited by traders. Gaining in strength, numbers and courage with new victories through long years and weary battles, they finally drove them east of the Rocky Mountains, actually on to the plains, and were possessors of all the territory now included in Utah and Colorado, between the Wahsatch Mountains and the main range.
          Of course, it is difficult to tell how long ago all this happened; but that the main account is a true history of the tribe I have little doubt. The rest we can form a definite idea of, for Ouray tells me that he can remember when the Utes first met the white man (that is, Americans…) in the vicinity of Del Norte on the Rio Grande. His father, Salvador, was then chief of the tribe and his mother an Apache. These white men were of course traders, but they were soon followed by others and the Utes soon became familiar and friendly with them…[I]t is their boast today that no Ute in good standing has ever killed a white man.
          The head men of the tribe are constantly watching the behavior of the boys and young men. When they see one who is intelligent and progressive, whose ideas are in conformity with the policy of the [Ute] nation, and who shows a capacity for carrying on their affairs with credit and advantage, he is looked upon as a captain without further ceremony. From the captains the head chief is elected.

Young and powerful Ouray in 1863. He holds the cane presented to him by President Abraham Lincoln.

          Such a man was young Ouray, and he at last became chief, with the consent of the tribe, altogether through his own merits, and not because his father was chief, for no hereditary honors are recognized. He first succeeded Benito as war chief in 1863, perhaps at the nomination and certainly with the sanction of the U.S. Government, which had become convinced of his ability during negotiation of the treaty at that time. The election and the terms of the treaty together so dissatisfied old Nevava, head chief, that with all his band he left the Southern Utes and reported thereafter at the White River Agency. Subsequently there was a split in his band, and some 350 went, under the leadership of Piah, to Denver, where they now receive their supplies.

 

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

Photos courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview With Ouray, Part 2

A VISIT TO THE TRIBE OF UTES.
From the New-York Tribune (New York, N.Y.), October 08, 1874, page 4

Members of the Hayden Survey team load a pack mule. 1874.

With respect to the origin of the Ute Nation, Ouray stated that they first occupied a little district at the southern end of the Uncompahgre Mountains, about the sources of the Rio San Juan and Rio Uncompahgre, where, according to tradition, they were without horses, had no arms other than bows and arrows, and used stone implements exclusively, metals being unknown…
          After the advent of the Spaniards, who introduced metals, the use of stone weapons and implements gradually declined, until now none whatever are used by the tribe. Having only bows and arrows, no horses or dogs, and yet trusting to the chase for their maintenance, they acquired all their wild game by driving it into ambush…They had at this primitive time no goats, sheep, or cattle, nor was there any current means of exchange, any legal tender or money, unless the buckskin in which the medicine men… received their pay, might be called such.
          Their only enemies at this time were the plains Indians and some mountain tribes to the north of them. From these they were constantly obliged to defend themselves, but they made few aggressive raids beyond their own narrow limits.
          South of them were the Jicarilla Apaches, with whom they were always on friendly terms, and even intermarried, but curiously enough, it was always an Apache girl marrying a Ute, and never a young Ute girl giving her hand to an Apache brave. There was no law about it—only usage had contained the custom. Through these [Jicarilla Apaches] the Utes communicated with the Spaniards, who had already settled south and west of there, in what is now Eastern Arizona, and from them obtained a few horses and dogs, which by being carefully bred soon multiplied until they had accumulated sufficient stock. This was the first step toward their subsequent prosperity.

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

Photo by William Henry Jackson courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.