Interview with Ouray, Part 6

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


Part of a Ute camp at Los Pinos with sheep and goats grazing in foreground. 1874. William Henry Jackson (cropped from a stereograph).

…there are often 80 or 90 lodges [teepees] in each camp. These lodges are all nowadays made of cotton cloth furnished by the Government, are conical in form, supported on several slender poles meeting at the top, where the cloth is so disposed as to make a sort of flap or guard, set by the wind in order to cause a proper draught. A little low opening in one side makes a door which is usually closed by a flap of hide or an old blanket.

Teepees in background show effects of smoke on canvas. 1874. William Henry Jackson (cropped from larger photo).

           The white cloth soon becomes begrimed with smoke at the top, which in time extends downward and deepens, until you have a perfect gradation of color from the white base through ever deepening smoke browns to the sooty blackness of the apex, adding greatly to their beauty. Besides this coloration, for which their owners are not directly responsible, the lodges are often painted in bright colors, particularly about the doorways, and in a band around the base; and usually there will be one or two yellow, or blue, or striped lodges in a camp, giving a picturesque variety to the scene.
           About each teepee (lodge) or groups of teepees—for they cluster together here and there in no sort of order—you will ordinarily find[:]
several little huts of evergreen branches called wicky-ups;
fires with queer kettles hanging over them;
frames hung with skins in process of tanning and softening;
buffalo robes staked on the ground to dry or to be painted by the squaws at leisure times;
piles of all sorts of truck—Indian, Mexican, American and nondescript, among which papooses play…
          [P]onies stroll and entangle long lariats of braided raw-hide, dogs bark, and indifferent warriors in gay suits smoke with stoical laziness.

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

Photo courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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