The Utes: “People of the Shining Mountains”
Story by Steven G. Baker. Photography, ©Ute Museum, all rights reserved. All content © San Juan Publishing Group, Inc, All rights reserved.
[SW Colorado] Eons before lthe gold rush of the 1870s, Colorado’s western slope was home to the Ute Indians, with the valley of the Uncompahgre River being the traditional homeland of the Uncompahgre Band. (Uncompahgre is the Ute word for warm, flowing water.) Spanish descriptions from the 1760s feature Ute legends about their ancestors, who had an ancient spiritual relationship with Ouray’s copious hot springs. Here the Utes cleansed and healed themselves, offering gifts to the waters to appease the mythical “water babies.” As recently as the late nineteenth century, Chief Ouray, the most famous of all Utes, built a small adobe home at hot springs where the Wiesbaden Spa in Ouray is now located.
Photograph. Utes leaving Colorado for reservation n Utah, 1881. Courtesy Ute Museum, Montrose, Colorado. All rights reserved.