Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation

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Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
Ute warrior.jpg
Uintah Ute couple, northwestern Utah, 1874
Total population
2647 (1990)[1]
Regions with significant populations
United States United States (Utah Utah)
English, Ute language
Christianity, Sun Dance, Native American Church, traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
other Ute Tribes

The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation is a federally recognized tribe of Ute Indians in Utah. The Uintah are a western band of Ute.[2]


The Uintah and Ouray Reservation headquarters is located in Fort Duchesne, Utah.

"I can tell you what I hope for, that is unity. I'd like to see people helping one another. Maybe people can come together and realize it's for the benefit of the tribe as a whole.Rather than one individual here or one family over here." –Luke Duncan, 1989

The Utes have a complex government system that works closely with US Federal and Utah state governments.


The Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation control is the second-largest Indian Reservation in the US – covering over 4,500,000 acres (18,000 km2) of land.[3] However, control of the lands split between Ute Indian Allottees, the Ute Indian Tribe, and the Ute Distribution Corporation.[4] Tribal owned lands only cover approximately 1.2 million acres (4,855 km2) of surface land and 40,000 acres (160 km2) of mineral-owned land within the 4 million acres (16,185 km2) reservation area.[4] Founded in 1863, it is located in Carbon, Duchesne, Grand, Uintah, Utah, and Wasatch Counties in Utah.[1]

Raising stock and oil and gas leases are important revenue streams for the reservation. The tribe is a members of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes.[1]


The Ute language is a southern Numic language within the Uto-Aztecan language family.[2] The language is still widely spoken. In 1984, the tribe declared the Ute language to be the official language of their reservation, and the Ute Language, Culture and Traditions Committee provides language education materials.[5]


Utes have lived in the Great Basin region for over 10,000 years. From 3000 BCE to around 500 BCE, they lived along the Gila River in Arizona. People of the Fremont culture lived to the north in western Colorado, but when drought struck in the 13th century, they joined the Utes in San Luis Valley, Colorado.[2] Utes were one of the first tribes to obtain horses from escaped Spanish stock.[6]

Spanish explorers traveled through Ute land in 1776. They were followed by an ever-increasing number of non-Natives. The Colorado Gold Rush of the 1850s flooded Ute lands with prospectors. Mormons fought the Utes from the 1840s to 1870s. In the 1860s the US federal government created the Uintah Reservation. Utah Utes settled there in 1864, and were joined in 1882 by eight bands of Northern Utes.[7]

The US government tried to force the Utes to farm, despite the lack of water and unfavorable growing conditions on their reservation. Irrigation projects of the early 20th century put water in non-tribal hands. Ute children were forced to attend Indian boarding schools in the 1880s and half of the Ute children at the Albuquerque Indian School died.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Pritzker, 245
  2. ^ a b c Pritzker, 242
  3. ^ Ute Indian Tribe
  4. ^ a b UINTAH AND OURAY RESERVATION (PDF) (PDF), Bureau of Indian Affairs, n.d. 
  5. ^ "Ute Language Policy." Cultural Survival. Issue 9.2, Summer 1985 (retrieved 5 May 2010)
  6. ^ Pritzker, 242-3
  7. ^ a b Pritzker, 243


  • D'Azevedo, Warren L., Volume Editor. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 11: Great Basin. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1986. ISBN 978-0-16-004581-3.
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

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