The Ute Indian Museum, located in Montrose, features one of the nation’s most complete collections dedicated to history and culture of the Utes of the Uncompahgre Valley. The museum was originally built in 1956. It is currently located in a stunning new bulding on the original 8.65-acre homestead of Chief Ouray (the leader of the Uncompahgre or Tabeguache Ute Band) and his wife, Chipeta. The museum entrance opens into a circular lobby full of Ute arts and crafts including jewelry, pottery, and beadwork. Located off the lobby are a photo gallery, library, gift shop, conference area and offices, and main museum gallery. The exhibits explore many aspects of historical and contemporary Ute society and culture. The museum and grounds are a State Historical Monument and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pictures, interactive videos, and artifact exhibits in the main gallery depict the culture and society of both historial and contemporary Ute Indians.
The Utes claimed Colorado and parts of Utah as their ancestral lands for centuries before the arrival of white men. They hunted and foraged in parts of Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico as well. With the the arrival of white prospectors and settlers, the Utes gave up more and more of their territory through a series of treaties and military engagements until they were eventually relocated in three reservations in Colorado and Utah. The Utes lost Colorado in 40 years (1840-1880).
Contemporary Ute Tribes
Modern day Utes are decended from 12 historical Ute bands. The three contemporary Ute tribes live primarily in three tribal reservations in Utah and Colorado. These are the Uintah-Ouray Ute Tribe (3,000 members), the Southern Ute Tribe (1,500 members), and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (2,000 members)
The museum complex includes the Chief Ouray Memorial Park, Chipeta’s crypt, picnic areas, walking paths, and teepees.
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