Southern Ute Tribe

by Kaitlynn Zitek

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The Ute Tribe is the oldest tribe in Colorado. No one knows exactly when they arrived in Colorado or where they came from; they believed they migrated from the south. At one point lived throughout several states: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. They had trails that crossed in and out of the mountains where they became very familiar with the different plants and animals. They learned to make different products from different plants and animals, such as soaps, baskets to store food and water, bows, arrows, and other domestic things. Spanish and European settlers began arriving. With them they brought guns, horses, and diseases. Several of the diseases killed many of the Ute people. In the 1700s they made treaties with other tribes to ensure peace. In 1873 a treaty was signed between the Ute Tribe and the United States. It was changed in 1874 and the United States took the Ute tribe's land. The government provided enough land for them to live on, but it wasn't much.


The people speak the Ute language, and in some places they speak English. The dictionary and the bible have been converted into the Ute language. Their language derived from their original settlers, known today as the Ute-Aztecan.


While becoming familiar with the trails throughout the mountains the Ute people learned about different plants and animals they could use as a food source. Some of the plants were a variety of berries, roots, seeds, grasses, and bark. Some of the animals they hunted were deer, minks, and jackrabbits. Once the spanish settlers brought horses they also hunted buffalo.


The southern Ute Tribe is found on an Indian reservation near New Mexico in South Colorado. The reservation covers approximately 1,000 square miles of land.


Their clothes were usually made of bark and animal skins, such as deer and jackrabbit skin. Their clothes commonly had beading on them sewn on by the women.