Telluride History & Museums: Colorado Ute Tribe History

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Ute Tribal History

The Ute Indians are the original and oldest continuous residents of Colorado. Although it is not known exactly when the Utes first came to call Colorado their home, it has been established that they came to the area from the north and from the west and were one of the first inhabitants of the mountainous areas of the region now known as Colorado. Read More

The Ute Indians were originally seven different nomadic tribes that live not only in Colorado, but also in parts of Utah and northern New Mexico. The state of Utah derives their name from the Ute Indians. Ute literally means "land of sun".

Similar to many other American Indian Tribes, the religious belief of the Ute Indians is based in nature. The Utes believed that they were directly related to the bear. The medicine men of the Utes, the Shaman are thought to be very powerful and each Spring the Tribes gathers for the annual Beardance, which is followed in the summer by the Sundance. The Sundance is the most important social and religious ceremony of the Utes.

The Ute never exploited their environment by overusing its resources and they only hunted for food and clothing. Much of the Ute land included hunting ground along with many areas of spiritual importance.

The only thing that the Utes had in common with the Mormon settlers who came into their lands was that both groups of people were polygamous, allowing men to have several wives. Other than that commonality, the Utes and Mormon Settlers were often in conflict.