If she was not a queen, why did I use the title Chipeta: Queen of the Utes for my first book about her?
The reference to Chipeta as “Queen” came from an incident that occurred on August 27, 1872. It was the opening day of a treaty council with the Utes and U.S. Government representatives.
A reporter for the Rocky Mountain News was present. He offered a sarcastic description of Chipeta:
“This afternoon the commissioners were waited upon by the queen of the Utes – Madame Ure [Ouray] I suppose she is called – who swept down in all her royal stations, attired in a skirt of buckskin, a pair of moccasins, an old shawl, and a lot of uncombed hair.”
The reporter used the word queen to make fun of Chipeta.
The first definition of “queen” in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “the wife or widow of a king…or a tribal chieftain.”
Ouray was not a chosen Ute chief. However, government officials saw him as a chief. He spoke for the Ute delegations that met with officials in Washington.
Ouray and the Indian Agent both spoke Spanish well. After discussion with the delegation members, Ouray stated the Ute positions in Spanish. The Agent translated into English. For this reason, the men in Washington saw Ouray as the spokesman, and therefore, the chief.
In the eyes of the U.S. Government, Chipeta was the wife of a tribal chieftain. “Queen” was a fitting title.
As I researched Chipeta’s life, I came to appreciate her strength. She demonstrated courage in many challenging situations. Her life was not easy. In the end, she was honored by her people as a wise and respected elder.
The book is available from Western Reflections Publishing: <a href="http://www.westernreflectionspublishing.com/index.php/