Utah Utes 1918

60-3vegetation         In 1918, Congress authorized money for improvement projects on the Ute Reservation in Utah.
          The Secretary of Interior, Franklin K. Lane, could withdraw $350,000 for the Confederated Bands of Ute Indians. He could spend $50,000 to benefit the Ute Mountain Utes. 
          The Uintah, White River and Uncompahgre Ute bands would share $200,000.
          And $100,000 could be used for the Southern Utes in Colorado.
          The Secretary was also authorized to distribute accrued interest on the fund through June 30, 1919. The interest was to be used to “promote civilization and self support among these Indians.”
          Congress wanted a detailed account of how this money was used. The report was due by the first Monday of December, 1920.
          According to Lane’s report, $10,000 of principal funds was spent for irrigation projects on land allotted to the Uintah, White River, and Uncompahgre Utes in Utah. Some of the money was used to maintain existing irrigation systems. He reported $12,000 to aid public schools in the Uintah and Duchesne County school districts of Utah.
          Where did the rest of the money go?

From Reports of the Secretary of Interior, 1919

The Uinta and Ouray Agency, 1900

Agent H. P. Myton filed his second annual report for the Uinta and Ouray Agency on August 28, 1900. He noted, “The Uinta Agency is located 110 miles from Price, Utah, the nearest railroad station, and it is 110 miles of about the worst road I ever saw.” The subagency for the Ouray Utes was 35 miles to the southeast.
            The Agency served a total of 1,699 Utes. Reporting to the Uinta Agency were 470 Uinta and 364 White River Utes. Another 19 White River Utes had joined the 846 Uncompahgre Utes at the Ouray subagency.
            The Agent noted that only a small portion of children attended school. He suggested marriage customs contributed to low attendance. Boys often married between ages 14-16 and girls between ages 12-14.
         Children of the White River Utes would only attend school by force, Agent Myton suggested.  He requested permission to cut off rations to White River families who did not send their children to school and the use of soldiers to enforce the order. He also noted that some Utes would be killed in the effort to enforce school attendance as “the leaders of this band are a mean set of Indians.”
            In September the Utes would sell 900 tons of hay to the U.S. War Department at a price of $6,420.00. Agent Myton noted they would still have several thousand tons of hay remaining. In addition, crops of oats would exceed the previous year.  
           Agent Myton also recommended, for the second time, that the Utes be allowed to hire an attorney to collect money owed them by the government for land they had owned in Colorado. He said the government had turned the land into a forest reserve and had no plans to sell it.

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

Two Ute Bands; One Reservation, 1885

Hillers stereoscopic photo Elkskin Tepee, Utah

Hillers stereoscopic photo Elkskin Tepee, Utah

In his 1885 annual report, Agent Elisha M. Davis stated his observation of differences between the Uintah and White River bands of Utes. The two bands had shared the Uintah Reservation in Utah since 1882. Davis began his assignment about the time the White River Utes were relocated from Colorado. By the time of this report he had known both groups for three years.

The Uintahs branched off from the great Ute nation and settled by themselves in this valley many years ago. The Uintahs are an agricultural people, depending very little upon the chase [hunting]. The habits and customs of the Uintah Indians are more nearly like those of the tribes north of them. The language of the Uintahs is, I apprehend, the pure Ute language, it having undergone little or no change since they settled here.

The White Rivers have never taken kindly to agriculture. The chief cause of the Meeker massacre was because Mr. Meeker tried to compel them to work. They have never been contented to settle down in one place. Their habits are more like their southern neighbors. Their language is different in many respects from that of the Uintahs, it [the White River language] being strongly tinctured with Spanish.

          Agent Davis held the U.S. Government responsible for some of the conflicts between the Uintah and White River Utes. Being forced to share their reservation land with the White Rivers was difficult enough for the Uintahs. 

To widen the breach, between them, the Uintah were compelled to stand peacefully by and see the White River Utes, whose hands were reeking with the blood of Agent Meeker, his family and his employees, receive a large cash annuity, when they were brought here in 1882, and they [the Uintahs] receive nothing…and then a large herd of beef cattle belonging to the White River Utes was brought here at the same time, which was issued to them in abundance, while the Uintahs received little or none.

          The Uintah Utes were included as part of the “Confederated Band of Utes” who shared an annual cash annuity of $50,000 for giving up reservation land.  When divided among roughly 3,300 eligible Utes, each person’s share was about $15 per year. However, “pensions” to families of the Meeker victims, totaling about $3,000 per year, were paid out of the White River share of the annuity. This reduced the share received by each White River Ute to $13 per year.

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

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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