Ute Leaders & Legacy

Exhibit at Anasazi Heritage Center

Story by Samantha Tisdel Wright
All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc, All rights reserved.

[Dolores, Colorado] “Ute Leaders and Legacies, “portraits and artifacts representing Ute history, were donated to the Anasazi Heritage Center by the Taylor Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs, and include historic artifacts and modern Ute artistry in beadwork. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park, the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, and Fort Lewis College’s Center for Southwest Studies have each loaned items from their collections.

The exhibit includes a series of rare, old photographs of Chief Ouray, Chipeta, Posey, Ignacio, Severo, Buckskin Charlie, Andrew Frank, and others who struggled to preserve tribal integrity and Ute traditions during difficult times. Other photos illustrate home life in tipis and log cabins, boarding schools, ceremonial dress, gambling, horsemanship, and women’s games.

The distinctive Ute culture reflects elements from both Southwest and the Great Plains lifeways. The Utes may have been the first tribe to adopt a life on horseback, thanks to contact with early Spanish colonists. Nomadic bands occupied much of Colorado, Utah, and northern New Mexico until the mid-19th century. Later Anglo emigrants from the eastern U.S. also impacted the Utes. Expanding settlement and the discovery of gold created conflicts leading to the loss of most of their ancestral territory. Today there are three Ute reservations– two in southwestern Colorado and one in northeastern Utah.

Ute Leaders & LegacyUte Indian Chiefs

Ute Chiefs Ankatosh, Waretss, Ouray (center), Shavano, and Guerro, 1868.

The Anasazi Heritage Center is three miles west of Dolores on Highway 184, and is open daily. Cultural programs and tours of Escalante Pueblo take place daily throughout the summer season. Special events and exhibits are made possible by the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. For more information, call (970) 882-5600, or visit the Center’s web site at www.co.blm.gov/ahc.

Ute Indian Chiefs, Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.