Indigenous Utes: The First People
“The Ute relationship with the land and their love for it tied their culture closely to the earth and its abundance.”
–Fred A. Conetah, Uncompahgre Ute
Archeological evidence indicates that humans have occupied Colorado for the last 10,000+ years.
The Utes of Colorado
The Ute Indians are Colorado’s oldest documented inhabitants. They call themselves Nuche (pronounced “Nooch”), meaning “the people.” The people believe that in the beginning of time, the Creator placed them in the Rocky Mountains—their ancestral home. Linguistic evidence suggests Numic-speakers (Ute people) arrived to the region in the 1300s. Written historical records indicate specific Ute presence in the Yampa Valley since the late 1500s.
The Ute tribe of this valley was the “Yampatika” or “Yamparica” band. “Yampa” means “root” and “tika” means “to eat.” They spent the summers hunting game and soaking in the mineral springs’ curative waters. Come winter, they left the Yampa Valley, following their food sources to lower elevations and milder climates.
Early diaries and recollections from the first settlers to the area, the Crawfords, depict nearly 100 members of the Yampatika tribe in the valley. The family found the Utes to be friendly. However, as more settlers arrived and demands on the land increased, conflicts arose. The Ute tribes of Colorado were forcibly removed to a reservation in 1881. Today, they occupy three separate reservations throughout Colorado and Utah.
Digital Ute Indian Language Project
We Shall Remain: A Native History of Utah
Roland McCook: Ute Stories - family connections, clothing traditions, Ute Names & Tribes
Part 1: Northern Ute historian Roland McCook introduces himself and Ute Bands in this 2007 Tread of Pioneers Museum oral history interview.
Roland McCook: Ute Stories - The Ute People and The Horse
Part 2: Northern Ute historian Roland McCook talks about the Ute People and their connection and use of the horse in history in this 2007 Tread of Pioneers Museum oral history interview.
Roland McCook: Ute Stories - The Ute people and local mineral springs
Part 3: Northern Ute Historian Roland McCook shares the importance of the Steamboat Springs area mineral springs to the Ute people in this Tread of Pioneers Museum oral history interview.
Roland McCook: Ute Stories - The Utes and Meeker Incident
Part 4: Northern Ute historian Roland McCook discusses the difficult topic of the historic event that has become known as the Meeker Incident, and resulted in the permanent removal of the Ute people from their lands. Oral history recording by Tread of Pioneers Museum in 2007.
Roland McCook: Ute Stories - How the Utes tell stories and lessons
Part 5: Northern Ute historian Roland McCook shares a Ute story passed down to him that teaches about diversity and through animal examples in this 2007 Tread of Pioneers Museum oral history.
Roland McCook: Ute Perspective on working with the local Steamboat Springs community
Part 6: Northern Ute historian Roland McCook shares his thoughts on the Ute community and the Steamboat Springs community connection in this 2007 oral history interview by the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
Ute Indian Pow Wow Performance
Members of the Nah-na-mah Culture Club of the Uintah River High School share their pow wow dances, music and regalia in a special recorded performance from May 15, 2017 in Steamboat Springs. The Ute Indians were the original native inhabitants of the Yampa Valley, and the Tread of Pioneers Museum is thrilled to host these performers each year who share their beautiful culture with our community. For other performances visit our YouTube page
Tread of Pioneers Museum special presentation: Ute Rock Art
Colorado Archaeologist Carol Patterson presents “Ute Rock Art on the Uncompahgre Plateau” with Ute elder Clifford Duncan addressing “Ute Spirituality” and spiritual ceremonies reflected through Ute rock art.
William Convery, Colorado State Historical Society historian presents "The Utes, Nathan Meeker, the U.S. Army and the White River Incident"
Originally presented on 7.24.2009 for the Tread of Pioneers Museum, in Steamboat Springs, CO.
Learn Local History: Ute Indian Introduction
Tread of Pioneers Museum short exhibit video on the local Ute Indian tribe.
Learn Local History: Ute Indians and Euro-American Conflict
Tread of Pioneers Museum short exhibit video on local Ute Indian tribe.
Learn Local History: Ute Indian Bear Dance in Steamboat Springs
Tread of Pioneers Museum short exhibit video on local Ute Indian history. The Ute tribe celebrated a Bear Dance in Steamboat Springs in 2003.