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Chipeta - Wife of Ute Chief Ouray

Wife of Ute Chief


The San Luis Valley was inhabited at different times by numerous Indian tribes.  Early paleolithic hunters killed now extinct ice animals in the valley.  Indians from the upper Rio Grande Pueblos also hunted in the valley at times.  Before the Utes finally established their dominance in the valley, it was frequently raided by Plains tribes such as the Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Kiowa.  Jicarilla Apaches lived in peaceful harmony with the Utes and frequently camped in the southern end of the valley.  The first contact with the Utes was in the period 1630-1640.  The Utes were called "QUERECHOS" by the early Spaniards in the area.

The Capote band of Utes occupied the southern end of the valley at the time of the first contact.  Another band, the Mohuache, also lived in southern Colorado and the Weeminuche band also ranged in the western end of the valley, generally west of the San Juan Mountains.

Chipeta (shown above) was wife of the paramount Ute chief Ouray.  She was almost hanged by a lynchmob in Alamosa, Colorado, on January 7, 1880, when she and ten Ute chiefs arrived there to board a train for Washington to resolve reservation resettlement matters.  Early Colorado settlers were irate at the Utes for the killing of eleven cavalrymen and the wounding of forty three others in the massacre at Meeker, Colorado.

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