The Utes

Ute Tipi

The Nuche were a nomadic, hunter gatherer people who occupied the San Juan Mountains and the Animas Valley. They were divided into six bands: Uintah, White River, Uncompahgre, Mouache, Caputa, and Weenuchiu. The Spanish were the first Europeans to make contact with the Nuche. The Spanish called these new people the "Yutas," after the shining mountains where they lived. Today they are called the Utes.

The first treaty between the United States and Ute leaders was signed in 1849. Subsequent treaties continued to reduce Ute lands. By the 1870s, the Utes no longer held any claims to the San Juan Mountains, their traditional homeland.

In 1880, Ute leaders, including Buckskin Charlie (at center in the image below) and Ignacio, unwittingly relinquished the tribes' claim to their remaining lands. The Nothern Utes, comprised of the Uintah, White River, and Uncompahgre, were relocated to Utah. The Mouache, Caputa, Weenuchiu and the Southern Utes were moved to reservation land in southwestern Colorado.

Ute camp with Buckskin Charlie

Buckskin Charlie at center. Catalog number: 04.27.201

To learn more about the Utes and their culture, visit the Southern Ute Museum.

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