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Collection: Indians of the Pike's Peak Region

Ouray, Chief of the Ute

The Ute seldom visited Colorado City and the region round about in the early days, except in the winter, which was the only time they could do so with a fair degree of safety. A majority of the tribe had been on friendly terms with the English-speaking people from the time of their earliest contact with that race. It is true that straggling bands of Ute occasionally committed acts of depredation, and such bands on one or two occasions killed white people, but these acts were not approved by the majority of the tribe. One of these exceptions occurred on...

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Old Indian Trails of Pike’s Peak

The principal Indian trail into the mountains from the plains to the northeast of Pike’s Peak came in by way of the Garden Ranch, through what used to be known as Templeton’s Gap. It crossed Monument Creek about a mile above Colorado Springs, then followed up a ridge to the Mesa; then it went southwest over the Mesa and across Camp Creek, passing just south of the Garden of the Gods; from there it came down to the Fountain, about a mile west of Colorado City, and there joined another trail that came from the southeast up the east side of Fountain Creek. The latter trail followed the east side of the Fountain from the Arkansas River, and crossed Monument Creek just below the present Artificial Ice Plant in Colorado Springs, from which point it ran along the north side of the Fountain to a point just west of Colorado City, where it crossed to the south side, then up the south side of the creek to the Manitou Springs. From this place it went up Ruxton Creek for a few hundred yards, then crossed over to the west side, then up the creek to a point just below the Colorado Midland Railway bridge; thence westward up a long ravine to its head; then in the same direction near the heads of the ravines running into the Fountain and...

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Ute Indians Use of Fire as a Defensive Weapon

After Ruxton had been camped near Manitou Springs for two or three weeks, while out hunting one day, he ran across an Indian camp, which startled him very much. No Indians were in sight at the time, but later he got a glimpse of two carrying in a deer which they had killed. The next morning Ruxton concluded that as a matter of safety, he had better remove his camp to some more secluded spot. The following day a fire was started on the side of the mountain to the south of the springs, which rapidly spread in every direction. He says: I had from the first no doubt that the fire was caused by the Indians who had probably discovered my animals, and thinking that a large party of hunters might be out, had taken advantage of a favorable wind to set fire to the grass, hoping to secure the horses and mules in the confusion, without risk of attacking the camp. In order to be out of reach of the fire, Ruxton moved his camp down the Fontaine qui Bouille six or seven miles. He says: All this time the fire was spreading out on the prairies. It extended at least five miles on the left bank of the creek and on the right was more slowly creeping up the mountainside, while the brush and timber in the...

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Game in the Pike’s Peak Region

In telling of the great quantities of game in this region, Ruxton says: Never was there such a paradise for hunters as this lone and solitary spot. Game abounded on every hand. Bear, elk, deer, mountain sheep, antelope, and grouse were in abundance in the surrounding mountains and valleys. Of buffalo there were few except in the valleys west of Pike’s Peak and in the Bayou Salado, or South Park, as it is now known. Ruxton further says: It is a singular fact that within the last two years the prairies, extending from the mountains to one hundred miles or more down the Arkansas, have been entirely abandoned by the buffalo; indeed, in crossing from the settlements of New Mexico, the boundary of their former range is marked by skulls and bones, which appear fresher as the traveler advances westward and towards the waters of the Platte. The evidence that Ruxton here mentions were still apparent twelve or fourteen years later, when the first settlers of this region arrived. Buffalo skulls and bones were scattered everywhere over the plains, but live buffalo could seldom be found nearer than one hundred miles east of the mountains. The reason for this has been variously stated, some claiming that a contagious disease broke out among the buffalo in the early forties, which virtually exterminated those along the eastern base of the mountains....

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Legend of the Separation of the Comanche and Ute Tribes

The large spring referred to by Dr. James, Sage, Fremont, Ruxton, and the other writers whom I have quoted, is the one now enclosed and used by the bottling works at Manitou. Ruxton says the two springs were intimately connected with the separation of the Comanche and the Snake, or Ute tribes, and he gives the following legend concerning the beginning of the trouble: Many hundreds of winters ago, when the cottonwoods on the Big River were no higher than an arrow, and the red men, who hunted the buffalo on the plains, all spoke the same language, and the pipe of peace breathed its social cloud of kinnikinnik whenever two parties of hunters met on the boundless plains – when, with hunting grounds and game of every kind in the greatest abundance, no nation dug up the hatchet with another because one of its hunters followed the game into their bounds, but, on the contrary, loaded for him his back with choice and fattest meat, and ever proffered the soothing pipe before the stranger, with well-filled belly, left the village, it happened that two hunters of different nations met one day on a small rivulet, where both had repaired to quench their thirst. A little stream of water, rising from a spring on a rock within a few feet of the bank, trickled over it and fell splashing...

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Manitou Springs

Dr. Edwin James, botanist and historian of Long’s expedition, who visited the Pike’s Peak region in 1820, says of the principal spring at Manitou: The boiling spring is a large and beautiful fountain of water, cool and transparent and aerated with carbonic acid. It rises on the brink of a small stream which here descends from the mountains at the point where the bed of this stream divides the ridge of sandstone, which rests against the base of the first granitic range. The water of the spring deposits a copious concretion of carbonate of lime, which has accumulated on every side, until it has formed a large basin over-hanging the stream, above which it rises several feet. The basin is of snowy whiteness and large enough to contain three or four hundred gallons, and is constantly overflowing. The spring rises from the bottom of the basin with a rumbling noise, discharging about equal volumes of air and of water, probably about fifty gallons per minute, the whole kept in constant agitation. The water is beautifully transparent, has a sparkling appearance, the grateful taste and exhilarating effect of the most highly aerated artificial mineral water. In the bottom of the spring a great number of beads and other small articles of Indian adornment were found, having unquestionably been left there as a sacrifice or present to the springs, which are...

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Tribes of the Pike’s Peak Region

It would be interesting to know who were the occupants of the Pike’s Peak region during prehistoric times. Were its inhabitants always nomadic Indians? We know that semi-civilized peoples inhabited southwestern Colorado and New Mexico in prehistoric times, who undoubtedly had lived there ages before they were driven into cliff dwellings and communal houses by savage invaders. Did their frontier settlements of that period ever extend into the Pike’s Peak region? The facts concerning these matters, we may never know. As it is, the earliest definite information we have concerning the occupants of this region dates from the Spanish...

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Indians of the Pike’s Peak Region

Including an Account of the Battle of Sand Creek, and of Occurrences in El Paso County, Colorado, during the War with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, in 1864 and 1868 For the most part this book is intentionally local in its character. As its title implies, it relates principally to the Indian tribes that have occupied the region around Pike’s Peak during historic times. The history, habits, and customs of the American Indian have always been interesting subjects to me. From early childhood, I read everything within my reach dealing with the various tribes of the United States and Mexico....

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The Third Colorado and the Battle of Sand Creek

It may be asked why we did not receive protection from the territorial authorities. The reason for this was that the Territory was without funds or a military organization. The Governor had repeatedly called the attention of the General Government to the helpless condition of our settlements, and asked that government troops be sent to protect them from the raids of the Indians; but at this time the entire military force of the nation was employed in suppressing the Rebellion, and little aid could be given. It is true that the companies of the First Regiment of Colorado Cavalry...

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Indian War of 1868

During the three years following the battle of Sand Creek there was little trouble with the Indians in El Paso County; consequently the people of that section of Colorado, while keeping a sharp lookout, felt fairly safe upon their ranches. During the summer season of each of these years, however, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho continued their raids upon the exposed settlements and the lines of travel to the East. In the meantime, the Government was following its usual temporizing policy with the savages. In the spring of 1867, agents of the Indian Bureau attempted to negotiate a new treaty with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, and for that purpose visited them at their camp on Pawnee Fork, near Fort Lamed, Kansas. But spring was not the time of year when the Indians wanted to negotiate treaties, and as a result, after making several appointments for councils, none of which was kept, the savages suddenly disappeared, and were next heard of raiding the frontier settlements of Kansas and Nebraska, and the lines of travel between Colorado and the Missouri River. These raids were continued during the next five or six months, but, after killing and robbing the whites all summer, these Cheyenne and Arapaho came in again professing penitence; whereupon, following the usual custom, a new treaty was made with them, by the terms of which both tribes consented to give up their...

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