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.


Lifesaving Lincoln Peace Medal

Here is another a little research story, about a Lincoln Peace Medal, that is too good to pass up.
          In 1918 Mr. J. Sanford Saltus presented a number of coins and medals to the American Numismatic Society, including “a Lincoln Peace Medal showing the mark of a bullet. This medal saved the life of a Ute Indian wearing it.” (Proceedings of the American Numismatic Society for the Sixtieth Annual Meeting, 1918)
          When I came across mention of this medal in 2003, I contacted the American Numismatic Society by email. Robert Wilson Hoge, Curator of American Coins and Currency, replied. He said the particular Lincoln Peace Medal was at that time on exhibition at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He sent the following description of the piece:

Pierced. Crater from impact of bullet (bullet still intact). Original issue, solid silver (second striking, second rev.) Thickness: 4.3mm. Sold by a Ute Indian in Colorado who, in 1873 was in a skirmish with another tribe when a bullet struck the medal which saved his life. He subsequently sold the medal, calling it “heap bad medicine,” because he felt it should have kept the bullet away from him altogether.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Lincoln Peace Medal

A Lincoln Peace Medal

A Lincoln Peace Medal

This Lincoln Peace Medal is like the one presented to Ouray by Lincoln’s secretary, John G. Nicolay, at the conclusion of treaty talks at Conejos, Colorado Territory on October 6, 1863. Ouray had received a silver-tipped cane from President Lincoln during a visit to Washington earlier that same year.

Image courtesy the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian NMAI E-Newservice.

Published in: on August 24, 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).