Ute Indian Museum

housing one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Ute culture and history

Story and Photography by Caitlin Switzer
All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Ute Museum[Montrose, Colorado] THEY WERE among the first peoples of the Americas, and they take great pride in their longstanding heritage celebrated here at the Ute Museum. The museum is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of items belonging to the Ute tribes of the American Southwest. Among the one-of-a-kind items housed in the museum is a beaded buckskin shirt made by Chipeta for Chief Ouray, who wore it to Washington for treaty negotiations. Her grave, alongside that of her brother John McCook, rests in a shady, tree-lined spot beside the museum called the Ouray Memorial Park. Recently added to the park is a bronze sculpture honoring the lives of Ouray and Chipeta.

Also honored through exhibits and research material are the warriors. “We honor our peoples who have gone and served,” Ute Indian Museum Director CJ Brafford said. “This is their country, and they are warriors. They are proud to have served the United States, and to save the lands for our country.”

The Ute Indian Museum, on grounds once homesteaded by Chief Ouray, features dioramas, changing exhibits, and programs that recreate Ute history and culture. A native plants garden graces the museum’s outdoor area, as does a display honoring the Dominguez and Escalante expedition of 1776, which came through the region and camped near the spot where the museum now stands.

Ute MuseumThe museum’s gift shop offers a wealth of beadwork, silver jewelry and sculptures, as well as Indian books and Ute pottery. Visitors are urged to call for ongoing cultural classes for both children and adults. The Montrose Visitor Information Center, also at the Museum, is a source for brochures and information on area attractions. Between 18,000 and 20,000 people come through the visitor center and museum each year.

The Ute Indian Museum is located at located at 17253 Chipeta Drive in Montrose. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the winter months. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., beginning in May. Admission $3.50. Special rates for seniors, youths and children. (970) 249-3098.

About the author
Caitlin Switzer is a photo journalist and publisher, living and working in western Colorado. Her online magazine, Montrose Mirror, covers timely stories of the area. She also writes for other publications including the The Watch Newspapers and San Juan Silver Stage.

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Additional information about the museum and the Ute people, please visit http://www.coloradohistory.org/hist_sites/UteIndian/Ute_indian.htm

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