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

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Early Reservation Life

The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers interesting information about life on early day Indian reservation s. The following data from the 1880 report includes the Los Pinos and the Southern Ute Agencies in Colorado.  There were no reports for the White River Agency for that year and the Bureau noted the agency had been abandoned.

Agent W. H. Berry reported 80 births and 70 deaths among the Utes on the Los Pinos Reservation. Agent Henry Page counted 33 births and 10 deaths on among the Southern Utes.

The Indian Bureau was interested in knowing how well Indians were adapting to the white man’s way of life. One measure was clothing.  Some 800 Utes reported at Los Pinos wore “citizen dress” (white man’s clothing) while just 25 did so among the Southern Utes.

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Children and Schools

The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers interesting information about life on early day Indian reservations. The following data from the 1880 report includes the Los Pinos and the Southern Ute Agencies in Colorado.  There were no reports for the White River Agency for that year and the Bureau noted the agency had been abandoned.

In 1880 the total combined population of the Los Pinos and the Southern Ute Reservations was 2,530 people. There were 250 children of school age at Los Pinos and 300 on the Southern Ute Reservation. But there were no schools.

Only 10 Utes on the Los Pinos Reservation were able to read; none on the Southern Ute Reservation.

There was only one house at Los Pinos occupied by Indians. That must have been the home of Ouray and Chipeta. No Utes on the Southern Ute Reservation lives in houses.

Published in: on October 15, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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News From Colorado, 1874

High country snow.

From the National Republican newspaper, May 26, 1874, Page 5

Commissioner of Indian Affairs E. P. Smith received the following letter from the Indian Agent at Los Pinos, Colorado :

Alfred Packer and party (21 miners) were visitng Ouray’s camp in winter. Ouray advised them to stay with the camp. Ten stayed. Five went on and died near Gunnison cattle camp. Packer was one of six men who left the first of February. Packer alone arrived at the Agency April 16th, apparently in good health.

Photo by E.A. Mills from the U.S. Geological Survey Photo Gallery

Interview with Ouray, Part 4

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


Ute man. Los Pinos 1874.

Having referred to the captains, sub-chiefs and head chiefs, it may be a good place in which to explain their respective positions and duties. When anything of national interest is to be deliberated, as the opening of a war, notice is given and a general mass meeting called of all the men in the tribe. There the pros and cons of the matter are fully discussed and weighted against on another.
         The matter is then referred to a council of the aged and influential chiefs of the tribe, many of whom have some authority and are termed sub-chiefs, who render a decision and arrange a mode of action, the execution of which belongs to the captains.
         In these deliberations no woman has any voice; or if by chance the sage advice of any woman is heeded the source is never recognized.
         When they go to war everything is in common. All the plans, tactics, and strategy to be employed are thoroughly understood by each man who, acting on this legitimate knowledge of the plans, looks out carefully that his own share of the work is well done. Thus all details of organization are rendered unnecessary, and the actual authority of the captains is so small as to amount to nothing.
         [The Utes] had learned from the experience of the wars with the Indians of the plains that when much authority is delegated to one man he is likely to abuse it for his own personal advantage; and, moreover, that jealousy toward him is sure to arise. It was especially pressed upon me to observe that the charge brought against them by those ignorant of their customs—that there was no system in the conduct of their affairs, and that they had no capability of organization—was untrue. On the contrary, their customs are uniform and universally respected, and they exhibit in their leaders just as much capacity for government as do any of the civilized nations of the earth. The only difference is, civilization presents greater complications.

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

Photo courtesy the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

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Hayden Survey 1874 Los Pinos

The 1874 Hayden Survey team visited the Los Pinos Agency where they photographed the landscape and the Ute Indians who inhabited it. The men were careful to record details of the location and features in each photograph.

“The 1874 Photographic Division on the way to Los Pinos and Mesa Verde. Left to right: Smart, Anthony, Mitchell, Whan, Ernest Ingersoll, and Charley, the cook. Dolly, the mule, stands between Charley and Ingersoll. Colorado. 1874. ”

“View on the White Earth River, looking down, where the trail from Los Pinos to Antelope Park crosses the White Earth; is a handsome little pocket of a valley, surrounded by high walls of the variously colored trachytes, characteristic of this region. The river canyons cut deeply, both in entering and leaving this valley. Gunnison and Hinsdale Counties, Colorado. 1874.”

Photographs by William Henry Jackson from the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

Meeker Massacre Utes Testify

Ouray by William Henry Jackson

Testimony of the Ute Chiefs
The New York Times
November 16, 1879
Los Pinos, Cal.
[a little typographical error by the Times; should be Colorado]

“Ouray carried his point at the Indian council held on the night of November 12, and the principal chiefs of the White River Utes, except Jack, were at the agency yesterday…
          “Ouray has made all the necessary preparations for the protection of the commission and if the White River Utes should make any attempt toward an outbreak, 50 picked men, who are now encamped within rifle shot of the commission, would be on hand the instant anything of that kind was attempted. [A Peace Commission was taking testimony related to the Meeker Massacre.]
          “Indians who testify before the commission are sworn by Chief Ouray…Douglass was the first witness called. The oath, like all the testimony, was translated into Spanish by Ouray, and then into English by Interpreter Townsend…
Douglass…said nothing, heard nothing, and took no part in the killing of Meeker and his employees or in the fight with Thornburg;
he found Mrs. Meeker frightened and fleeing, and took her to his house and took care of her;
his time was so much occupied with the care of his wounded boy that he did not know anything in relation to what was going wrong;
at the time of the killing of the employees began, he was in the warehouse, and did not know who began the attack;
his feelings overcame him, and it made him cry to think of the condition into which his friends had fallen;
         “Meeker told him that in two days soldiers would come. Douglass replied that it would be better to have officers come to the agency and have a council and try to settle the existing difficulties. As the Indians were afraid of the soldiers, Mr. Meeker promised to go with Douglass in the morning and meet the officers; but while they were talking the fight with Thornburgh was going on, though neither Douglass nor Mr. Meeker was aware of the fact at the time.”

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Letters to Ouray while in Washington, D.C.

Los Pinos, Colorado
28 January 1880

Chief Ouray
Head Chief Ute Nation
Washington, DC

I write at the request of Chief Sapivaneri to inform you of the death of Tabequacheub and also of a son of Tom-a-sar-a-ca which occurred within the last two days. So far the Uncompahgre Utes have conducted themselves in an orderly and well behaved manner.

Sapivaneri is doing splendidly in the management of affairs during your absence, and everything seems to be moving along in a satisfactory way. Your people are all anxious to here from you and Chipeta and an occasional letter would be received by them with pleasure. Hoping that you and Chipeta may enjoy your visit and that all present difficulties may be amicable adjusted.

I remain yours very truly
Geo. L. Sherman
Clerk in Charge

From the files of the Colorado Historical Society

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Leaving Colorado

High in the Rocky Mountains the temperature hovered near zero in the early hours of December 29, 1879. Before dawn, a delegation of twelve Ute Indians gathered on horseback at Los Pinos Agency to begin the long journey to Washington, D.C. Ouray and Chipeta led the delegation which included Uncompahgre Utes–Wass, Golata, Jocknick, Sieblo and Augustine–and White River Utes–Nickaagut (Jack), Sowawick, Toppaganta, Alhandra, and Unca Sam. Los Pinos Agency farmer William H. Berry served as interpreter. The group rode out before dawn escorted by General Hatch, Lieutenant Taylor, and ten soldiers.
           The 140 mile trip from Los Pinos to Saguache, Colorado took six days due to heavy snow on Cochetopa Pass. Joined by General Charles Adams and Otto Mears, the group spent the night at the Perry House Hotel in Alamosa. The soldiers fended off an angry mob that gathered outside the hotel, threatening to hang the Utes for the murders of white employees at the Meeker Agency four months earlier. The next morning the Ute delegation left town on the 6:20 am Denver & Rio Grande train.
          The delegation arrived at the South Pueblo station at 1:45 pm. Before they boarded another train to Chicago, General Adams led the group into the station to eat lunch. A crowd of angry local citizens gathered outside. They shook their fists and shouted “Hang the red devils.” The soldiers held back the crowd while Adams, Mears and Berry hurried the Utes to the eastbound train. People in the crowd threw rocks and lumps of coal at the Utes and one man hit Sowawick on the head with a club. When the Utes were safely aboard the train, the soldiers and railroad workers convinced the citizens to go home.
          Displays of hatred for the Utes did not end when they left Colorado. People in prairie towns gathered along the tracks to shake their fists and shout as the Utes passed by. Another mob waited at the Rock Island depot in Chicago. The Utes and their travelling companions worried about what waited for them in the nation’s capitol.

Government contracting in 1874

The United States government made treaties with American Indian nations to gain their cooperation – and their land. In return, the government agreed to give the Indians basic food and supplies. Indian Agents were responsible for delivering the goods. The Agent made a public notice of the opportunity for private individuals or businesses to sell something to the government.
          On October 1, 1874, the Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo) ran a notice from Agent Henry F. Bond at the Los Pinos Ute Agency requesting two proposals (bids) to supply: 

       Proposal #1                         Proposal #2

110,000 pounds flour              30 rifles
150,000 pounds beef          2,000 pounds lead
      600 pounds soda            700 pounds powder
     500 pounds soap              50,000 caps
   5,000 pounds bacon        5,000 cartridges
      5,000 pounds salt

          Bond specified flour “of the quality known as XX, subject to inspection, and to be put up in 100 pound sacks of strong material.” The order would be delivered half in November and half the following June. Bond specified beef as “steers between the ages of three and seven years, to be free of disease and to weigh not less than 900 pounds each.” The meat would be delivered on-the-hoof the following June.
          Bond would open the bids at the new Delmonico House in Denver at 10:00 am on October 13, 1874. At that time he would look at samples of goods to be supplied “as far as is practicable.” (No one needed to bring along a steer.)
          Letters from two responsible people “vouching for the ability and good faith” of the bidder were required with each proposal. A successful bidder was required to “post a bond with good sureties in the penal sum of double the amount of the bid.” A bond is a guarantee. Sureties agree to pay the amount of the bond if the bidder fails to deliver as promised. A good suretie might be a banker or other business person.
          A government contracting officer today uses the same basic process.

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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