Ouray’s Pipe and Pipe Bag


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.

Lincoln Canes, Part 1

Ouray with Lincoln Cane presented to him as leader of a Ute Delegation, 1863

In 1863, Ouray led the first Ute delegation to visit Washington City. During their stay in the nation’s capital city, the delegation met with President Abraham Lincoln. It was the President’s habit to present an ebony cane to the leader of each Indian delegation that visited him.
          That same year, nineteen special canes were presented to a group of Indians who did not travel to Washington City.
          In 1846, the United States Army had taken control of what became New Mexico Territory after the Mexican American War. The Pueblo Indians of that territory came forward in peace and did not oppose the invasion. They continued their peaceful stance as the U.S. government pursued nomadic tribes to bring them under control. Similarly, when Civil War activity spilled into the territory, the Pueblos refused to become involved.
          On January 22, 1864, Congress approved appointment of Dr. Michael Steck as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory. Steck had been an Indian agent in the territory for the past ten years. He promoted the idea of recognizing the Pueblo people for their peaceful support. While in Washington on government business, he gained Lincoln’s approval for delivering a cane to each Pueblo.
          On February 15, 1864, Steck ordered nineteen canes from John Dold of Philadelphia. Each cane would be inscribed with the name of the Pueblo, the year 1863, and the signature of “A. Lincoln.” The silver-topped ebony canes cost $5.50 each at that time.
          Steck returned to New Mexico on March 27, 1864 with the special gifts, which he presented, on behalf of the President, to the Governor of each Pueblo. Recipients were the Pueblos of Taos, Picuris, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Jemez, Zia, Santa Ana, Sandia, Isleta, Laguna, Acoma and Zuni.


Symbolism and Significance of the Lincoln Canes for the Pueblos of New Mexico, 1994, by Martha LaCroix Daily, available at href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/Symbolism%20and%20Significance%20of%20the%20Lincoln%20Canes.pdf

Story of the canes:  href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/nm_magazine.pdf

Photo Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ouray and Chipeta Meet U.S. Presidents

Opening of the Gunnison Tunnel, 1909

Opening of the Gunnison Tunnel, 1909

Inauguration Day is a good time to think about Presidents of the United States. Have you ever met a President in person?
          Would you be surprised to know that Chipeta and Ouray had personal meetings with several U.S. Presidents?
          During his first trip to Washington City in April 1863, Ouray and a delegation of Utes met with President Abraham Lincoln. At that time Lincoln presented Ouray with a black cane, his standard gift to the leader of each Indian delegation he met.
          On February 5, 1868, Ouray and another delegation of chiefs met with President Andrew Johnson. The President gave them a tour of the White House.
          In January 1872, Ouray and a delegation of Ute chiefs were received at the White House by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant .
          The following year, Ouray and another delegation of Utes were back in the nation’s capital. During this trip the Utes agreed to give up their claim to the San Juan Mountains. Ouray and the delegation met with President Grant on October 24, 1873.
          President William Howard Taft came to Colorado in 1909. On September 23, 1909, he gave a speech in Grand Junction, Colorado, reportedly attended by 12,000 people. Chipeta and a group of Ute chiefs were among the specially invited guests. After the speech, Chipeta and the special guests stepped onto the stage to meet the President. This group of guests would accompany the President on a train to Montrose for the opening of the Gunnison Tunnel. President Taft insisted that Chipeta ride with him to the railroad station in his open touring car.

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

Sources: Indian Agent Expense Records, National Archives; Washington Evening Star, October 24, 1873; Bits of Colorado History, Al Look (Golden Bell Press, 1977)

Celebrating July 4th in 1861

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Colorado Territory, officially formed on February 28, 1861. What was July 4th like at that time?
          Historic newspapers offer a peak back in time. Abraham Lincoln was the new President of the United States, eleven states had seceded from the Union to become the Confederate States of America, and by July 4th the Union and the Confederacy were at war.
          The front page of the Rocky Mountain News Weekly on July 3, 1861 made no mention of celebration. Four of the eight columns contained news of the war. The rest of the front page focused on a recently completed census of the territory, the upcoming convention in Golden City to nominate a delegate to Congress, and reports from the gold mining areas.
          Page two contained the full text of “An Act to Provide a Temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado” as approved by the U.S. Senate. Section 16 stated, “The Consitution and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable shall have the same force and effect within the Territory of Colorado as elsewhere in the United States.”
          The only July 4th entertainments were found on page three. In Central City there would be a grand Citizens’ and Fancy Dress Ball at the new National Theater in the evening. Grand Balls and suppers were also being held at the Nevada House Hotel and at Bergen’s Ranch. No other forms of celebration were mentioned.
          News notes of the day included: “The C.O.C. & P.P. Express [stagecoach] arrived from the States last evening, in five days and six hours from St. Joseph [Missouri].”
          Many short items from other newspapers appeared. Even this entertaining note reminds us that the war was never far from people’s thoughts. “The Cincinnati Inquirer says one of the fairest and most respected of Kentucky’s daughters has at various times conveyed out of that city two hundred revolvers under her hoops.”
          The lady pictured above would certainly be able to hide a few guns under her hoop skirt, which was the popular style of the day!

Photo courtesy Victorian Images

Presidential Gifts

Ouray 1863In this photo, Ouray holds the silver tipped cane presented to him by President Lincoln during an 1863 White House visit.  He wears a Ute delegation sash from the trip to Washington City and the Lincoln Peace Medal presented after the October 1863 treaty council at Conejos.
Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lincoln’s Secretary in Colorado

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

John G. Nicolay on left with President Lincoln and John Hay taken November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio. Image from the Library of Congress collection.

President Abraham Lincoln sent his secretary, John G. Nicolay,  as his personal representative to the 1863 treaty council with the Utes at Conejos, Colorado Territory. Nicolay arrived in September and spent a month touring the Territory. He arrived at Conejos on  October 1, 1863 to lead the team of government representatives that included Territorial Governor John L. Evans, Dr. Michael Stech, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico, plus Indian Agents Simeon Whiteley and Lafayette Head.
          Fifteen hundred Tabeguache Utes (Ouray’s band) turned out for the treaty council. Only three Mouache chiefs and one Capote chief attended. The Weeminuche and the northern Ute bands did not participate. A treaty was concluded on October 7, 1863. It was primarily an agreement with the estimated 4,000 Tabeguache Utes, who gave up their lands east of the Continental Divide.
          After the agreement was made, Nicolay presented silver peace medals bearing President Lincoln’s image to seven chiefs, including Ouray. These were men Nicolay counted as most cooperative.
          The treaty Nicolay negotiated was ratified, with amendments, by the U.S. Senate on March 25, 1864, and accepted by the Utes on October 8, 1864.

          Arnold Schwarzenegger was the voice of Lincoln’s Bavarian-born secretary, John G. Nicolay, in the 1992 ABC documentary Lincoln (Richard Zoglin, “Trying To Hype History,” TIME, December 28, 1992).
          Helen Nicolay wrote a biography of her father: Lincoln’s Secretary (Longmans, Green and Co. 1949; reprinted Greenwood Press, 1971).