Changing Names of Indian Agency

          In 1860 the Conejos Agency was established for the Tabeguache Utes. The name came from the River in Southern Colorado. The little town located along the river was also called Conejos. It was the home of the Indian Agent, Lafayette Head.
          In 1869 the Agency was moved to Los Pinos Creek and renamed Los Pinos Agency.
          The Agency was relocated again in 1875 to the Uncompahgre Valley. However, the name Los Pinos Agency was retained.
          The Tabeguache Utes and their Agency were moved to a new reservation on Utah’s Green River in 1881. It became the Ouray Agency, named for their famous chief who died before the move.
          In 1886 the reservation was consolidated with the adjoining reservation as the Uintah and Ouray Agency

Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Too Many Indians

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

John Evans took over as Governor of Colorado Territory on May 17, 1862. He identified the parts of the territory claimed by various Indians in his October 30, 1862 letter to the Commisioner of Indian Affairs.
          By the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramiethe Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians claimed land that included “portions of the State of Kansas and Nebraska Territory [plus] all that part of the present Territory of Colorado north of the Arkansas river and east of the snowy range of the Rocky mountains.”
         The Kiowa and Comanche Indians occupied the territory “south of the Arkansas [River]and east of the snowy range.” Evans estimated there were about five thousand Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa and Comanche reporting to Agent S. G. Colley, who was based at Fort Lyon.
          Evans reported that “all that part of the Territory lying west of the great snowy range or Cordilleras is occupied by the various bands of the Utah [Ute] Indians. These Indians are reported to be about ten thousand strong, and are active, independent, and warlike. They have never been at war with the whites, and have little idea of the military prowess of the government, making the danger of hostilities by them more imminent.”
          “There are two bands of these Indians [Utahs or Utes] that go down into New Mexico to report to…agencies there…[B]ut by far the larger part of them obtain the goods which the government distributes for the purpose of securing their friendship from Lafayette Head…of the Conejos agencies.”
          Evans noted that Congress had approved an additional agency for the Green River and Uintah bands of Utes but no agent had been appointed and the agency was not in operation.
          In addition to urging the necessity of treaties with the Indians belonging to Colorado territory, Evans reported a new problem. “We have been troubled by the presence in Colorado, for a good part of the summer, of different bands of the Ogillullah and Brule Sioux Indians, belonging to the neighboring agency at Fort Laramie. They settle along the Platte river for the purpose of begging from, if not committing depredations upon, the great stream of travel to and from the settlements of Colorado.”

Note: Governor Evans misspelled the name of the Oglala Indians. 

Photo of John Evans courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Quoted text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1862.

Colorado Territory: Indians and Agents 1861

Honoring the 150th Anniversary of Colorado Territory (officially formed February 28, 1861), this series of posts offers a brief glimpse into Indian affairs during the terms of the seven territorial governors.

The first Territorial Governor William Gilpin, like those who followed him, served as ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the new Colorado Territory. In his first annual report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for 1861, Gilpin estimated the population of white men at 30,000 and the number of Indians at 25,000.  He identified the diverse Indians and the areas of Colorado they called home,  along with names of their assigned Indian Agents.

          “The Indians belonging to this superintendency, and who may be said to revolve around this city [Denver] as round a centre:
          “Commance, Kiowas, and Sheyennes of the Arkansas Smoky Hills and Republican rivers. Arapahoes – one agency, [A.G.] Boone agent.
          “Ogallah Sioux, Half-breeds of Arapahoes, South Platte and Cadre la Poudre rivers. Sheyennes and Sioux – one sub agency.
          “Apaches of the Ratone Mountains and Rio del Norte. Utahs – one agency, Kit Carson, agent.
          “Utahs (Mohuaches) of the Parc of San Louis, Eagle rivers and San Juan Mountains. Capotes and Navajoes – one agency, F. [LaFayette] Head, agent.
          “Utahs of Grand and Green rivers, and Shoshones of the south, middle, and north Parcs, and country north and west of the Pass. Snake Indians – one agency, [Harvie M.] Vaile agent.”

Photo courtesy the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Text from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1861

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).

Lincoln Bicentennial

This year the nation celebrates the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Did you know Colorado’s Ute Chief Ouray met Lincoln in person?

          In the spring of 1863, Ouray and a group of Ute chiefs or headmen traveled to Washington City with their Indian Agent, Lafayette Head. They wanted a treaty that would define Ute land and protect it from the gold seekers and settlers who began invading Ute land in large numbers in 1859.
          During that trip the delegation met President Lincoln at the White House. Ouray was identified as the leader of the group and Lincoln presented him a silver-tipped cane, his typical gift to Indian chiefs. Ouray insisted that all the chiefs of the various Ute bands must be involved in a treaty decision. Lincoln agreed to send government representatives to Colorado Territory the following October for a great treaty conference.

Kudos to Google

While searching for a photo of Lafayette Head (an early day Ute Indian Agent), I discovered he had a Wikipedia page. “First Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, serving from 1876 to 1879 under JOHN LONG ROUTT” was the sum total of information about the man. I knew more about him that that! I set aside other projects to give Mr. Head his due.

My research files focused on his work as Indian Agent. Colorado history books added tidbits including his participation in drafting Colorado’s state constitution. At I connected with a descendant of Lafayette’s sister. He supplied information about the Head parents and grandparents who were Missouri pioneers.

Two out-of-print books provided the most interesting material. In a 1908 volume, Life of the Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf, D.D., I learned that Head was a Catholic convert baptized by BISHOP LAMY and a settler of the Guadalupe community on the Mexican CONEJOS LAND GRANT. The 1890 History of Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming, 1540-1888, outlined Head’s military experiences during the MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR (1846-1848).

What amazed me was not the information I found in these two books but the fact that I read them on my computer screen. The volumes were digitized by Google from New York City and Harvard University libraries. I recalled the active debate when Google announced its digitization plans. I admit I was a skeptic, imagining a negative impact on book sales from this program. Yet, had it not been for these digitized volumes, I would have missed intriguing details of LAFAYETTE HEAD‘s life.

Thanks Google, for bringing such valuable research material to my desktop! 

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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