Interview with Ouray, Part 1

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

Los Pinos Indian Agency, Col., Aug 27

Antelope Park

This point is 47 miles west of Saguache, on the Cochetopa trail to Antelope Park, to the valley of the Cochetopa and Los Pinos creeks. [Cochetopa is a Ute word meaning “pass of the buffalo.”]
          The officer who had charge of locating the agency was instructed to put it on the Los Pinos River, 180 miles or so south-west of here, but he said: “Put it anywhere and call it Los Pinos.” So, here it is.
          The valley is eight or ten miles long and three or four wide, full of good grass and water, surrounded by high timber ed hills, and is a favorite Indian camping ground.

Hayden Team Piching Tents (from a stereographic picture). 1874. William Henry Jackson photographer.

          We—that is, the Hayden Expedition—camped at the agency about a week, occupying the time principally in making Indian pictures, but it was with the greatest difficulty that negatives could be obtained, for the redskins have a superstition that calamity will follow the photographic of groups and camp scenes, although one at a time it was safe enough. The squaws were especially superstitious about it. “Make heap Injun, heap sick,” they averred.
          But one morning, remarkable for its rare magnificence of sunrise color, as was the previous evening for its beautiful sunset, the train moved off, leaving me behind to get such mail as might come, but chiefly because I wished to “interview” Ouray, head chief of all the Ute nation, which is now a confederation of seven tribes. Through the kind exertions of Mr. Harris, post trader and interpreter, this operation was satisfactorily accomplished in his store.

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

Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library 



As cold weather chills my bones and my stomach churns over finances, this tidbit from my research files reminds me that I have a comfortable existence. The 1874 payroll record for government employees at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, Colorado, reports total pay for the period January through March. The pay was probably good for the times since these employees received housing (log buildings with no running water, indoor plumbing, or central heat) and some food provided by the agency. The living and working conditions, however, were challenging. The agency for the Ute Indians was located in a cold and remote spot near the top of Cochetopa Pass on the Continental Divide. The name comes from a Ute word meaning “pass of the buffalo.” The men who managed the herds that supplied meat for agency employees lived solitary lives in crude quarters near their grazing animals. (Source: National Archives and Records Administration #8878, Expense Reports, 1874)


$250.00           MT [Margaret] Adams, Teacher

$375.00           Charles Adams, Agent

$189.50            Alonzo Hartman, Carpenter

$189.50            Geo. Hardman, Blacksmith

$250.00           Steven Dole, Blacksmith

$150.00           James Downer, Laborer

$   53.33           Charles Eberley, Cook

$150.00           James Kelley, Herder @ Gunnison

$150.00           H.F. Lautter, Herder @ Los Pinos

$150.00           Sidney Jocknick, Herder @ Gunnison

$225.00           Herman Leuders, Chief Herder

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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