Ute Statistics 1880

The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers interesting information about life on an early day Indian reservation. Indian Agents were required to submit a lot of numbers for these reports. Following is a bit of 1880 population data from the Los Pinos and Southern Ute reservations in Colorado.

Reservations:     Los Pinos          Southern Ute
People:                   1,200                 1,330
Horses:                  6,000                 2,000
Mules:                           30                         6
Cattle:                          150                  100
Sheep:                      5,000             11,000

Published in: on October 8, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Ouray, Part 6

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


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 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 

Letters to Ouray

Ouray by William Henry Jackson

Los Pinos
June 6, 1878

Friend Ouray,
Your letter of this morning asking for some more lumber to complete your house is before me…I am sorry to say that I should not want to spend anymore until I have completed our blacksmith and carpenters shop. I also intend to build the doctor and blacksmith a new house to live in and if I should we should use all the lumber we have left. However, when we have the shops completed I can tell whether we should have any more to spare or not. I am in hopes before long to salvage a few logs now at the mill. Will try and help you to some lumber if possible.

Yours truly,
Joseph B. Abbott

From files of the Colorado Historical Society Library

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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