The Southern Ute Agency, 1900

On August 25, 1900, Indian Agent Joseph O. Smith reported on the state of the Southern Ute Agency. He noted, “In comparison with other Indian tribes, I believe the Ute to be an exceptionally sturdy, healthy people…”
         Agent Smith described “the driest summer seen in Southern Colorado in many years. There was not rain during the months of June, July and August.” The grazing land for livestock was poor and hay fields that did not have access to irrigation were almost barren. A new irrigation ditch had been completed which delivered water from the Pine River to thousands of fertile acres on the high mesas to the west of Ignacio. Two canals were in operation carrying water as far as eight miles.
          Miss Gertrude R. Hileman, teacher at the Presbyterian Mission School at Ignacio reported 37 students enrolled with average attendance of 17 students, less than 50%.

Information from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1900


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

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The 1878 Ute Commission

A small group of men, appointed by the Indian Bureau to negotiate a new treaty with the Utes, arrived at the Southern Ute Agency on August 14, 1878. Edward Hatch, Chairman of this Commission, reported several problems they encountered.

          “The Indians there said they had been overreached in the agreement of 1873; that they intended to sell nothing but minerals; that the government had not complied; that a large sum of money was to be paid [to the Utes]; that they had received nothing.”
          “One difficulty in negotiating was that the Utes hold the territory in common but among themselves have division of lands among groups. They refuse to come together for a conference.”
          “Considerable hostility [exists] between Ignacio, chief of the Weeminuches of Southern Utes, and Ouray, chief of the Tabeguaches at Los Pinos. By agreement of Brunot in 1873, Ouray seems to be recognized as head chief of all Utes but, as a matter of fact, the Southern Utes utterly repudiate him and he has no influence or control over them. The fact that by the Brunot agreement he received $1,000 per year for 10 years greatly incensed these Indians who claim they would not have signed [the agreement] had they known.”

Quoted text from the Report of Commission appointed by Act of May 3, 1878 to negotiate with Utes, 45th Congress, Senate, 3rd session, No. 62, page 42. Report dated February 8, 1879.

Image courtesy Florida Center for Instructional Technology