Communication Helps

Fort Duschene 1884In late August, 1881 the Uncompahgre Utes were forcibly moved from Colorado to Utah. They settled on a reservation named for Chief Ouray. It was next to the Uintah Agency.
          Five years later, the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided to combine the two reservations under one Indian Agent. The Bureau decided a military base was needed to keep the peace between the Uintah and the Uncompahgre Utes.
          In late August 1886, General Crook marched a company of troops across the Ouray reservation. Panic spread among the Utes as runners carried the news of an invastion of soldiers.
          No one had bothered to inform the Utes of plans for a military post.
          The troops arrived at their destination to meet a contingent of mounted warriors, painted and armed for battle.
          Fortunately, the Indian Agent arrived just ahead of the troops. He was able to facilitate a peaceful meeting with General Crook.
          Fort Duchesne was built and eventually housed 250 soldiers.

Information from Chipeta: Queen of the Utes. Used with permission.


Published in: on February 2, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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A New Reservation in Utah

In 1880, many of the Ute Indians were removed from Colorado and resettled on reservations in Utah. This was a result of the public outcry over the Meeker Massacre.  The land they were given was shockingly barren compared to their Rocky Mountain homeland. The Ouray Agency was a new reservation established for the Tabeguache Utes near the existing Uintah Agency.
          The 1885 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers a glimpse into life on the Utah reservation, three years after the Tabeguache Utes were relocated from Colorado. Of course, the report was written by the Indian Agent, J.F. Gardner (a white man).
          On August 12, 1885, Agent Gardner filed his second annual report. The agency office had been moved across the Green River to the former site of Fort Thornburgh. There were eleven buildings on the four-acre site, built of round logs (called stockade-built). Roofs were logs covered with dirt. Special Agent Leuders had repaired the buildings.
          Gardner said the buildings were fine in dry weather but “untenable in in the rainy season.” He had built a new agent’s house – a lathe and plaster dwelling 28 by 44 feet. The cost of the building was $1,994.54.
          A frame school house was also built at a cost of $800.00. It was 16 by 30 feet in size and needed to be plastered before ready for use. The school could accommodate thirty “day-scholars.” (There were no facilities for students to live at the school.)
         When the facility had been used by the Army, soldiers slept in tents surrounded by dirt embankments for protection. The embankments were removed and the flattend area seeded with grass.

<em>Content from “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885</em>

Reservation School

Agent Davis reported that a boarding school had been in operation at the Uintah Agency for the past eight or ten years. The school opened for the 1884-85 year on September 20, 1884. There was a teacher, a matron and a cook. For the first three months there were ten to twelve students. That rose to twenty to twenty-five during the winter months. As farming began in the spring, the “larger boys” left to help with the work. The number of students returned to ten to twelve and the school year ended on the May 18, 1885.
The agent’s comment on education is revealing:

The school children are bright and intelligent, and would make excellent progress if they only understood the English language…To be sure many are taught to read, write, and spell, but in no one case to my knowledge have the teachings received at the agency school had a tendency to eradicate from the minds of the pupils the superstitions of the tribe. They are so intimately connected with the tribe, even when they are at school, that they know nothing and dare nothing except what the superstitious parents tell them. I advocate sending the children away to school as the only way to make permanent improvement among them.

From “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ute Life in Utah, 1885

As a result of the 1879 Meeker Massacre, the White River Utes were removed from Colorado. They were resettled in 1882 on the existing Uintah reservation in Utah.    

1876 Map Uintah Valley Reservation             Indian Agent annual reports of reservation status, published in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, offer a glimpse into life after resettlement.
            Agent Elisha M. Davis was assigned to the Uintah reservation about the time the White River Utes arrived there. Three years later, his August 20, 1885 report offered a recap of changes brought by relocation of the White River Utes.
            The populations of Uintah and White River Utes were nearly equal. There were 508 Uintah Utes and 514 White River Utes at this reservation. Youth and children represented 43% of the population. There were 251 youth age 6-16 and 186 children under age 6.
            Agent Davis reported “profound peace” among the Utes assigned to this agency. He did note “exaggerated rumors of war among the more warlike tribes to the north and south.”
            Davis wrote, “The year has been one of marked progress of these Indians in quieting the feeling of envy and jealousy which has always existed between the two tribes at this agency. The White River and Uintah Utes have intermarried more during the past year than ever before in the history of the tribes. This tends to make them one people.”

From “Reports of Agents in Utah,” Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1885

1861 map of Uintah Valley Reservation, Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Cantankerous Colorow

Colorow was one of the participants in the 1879 Meeker Massacre. As a result, his band of White River Utes from Colorado was sent to the existing Uintah Reservation in Utah. In 1887, the Indian Agent at the Unitah Agency wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs requesting approval to transfer a list of Indians to the Ouray Agency, Utah.

September 17, 1887. “Most of these Indians belong to Colorow‘s band. He does not want to come to this reservation but is willing to stop on the Uncompahgre Reservation. The Indians here prefer for him and his band to remain below.”

When the Uncompahgre (or Ouray) Reservation was established in 1881, it was on land south east from the Uintah Reservation. The letter was included with a census taken by the agent. (National Archives microfilm #595/608 Indian Census 1885-1940)

Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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