July 10, 2012

Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation


 The Mouache and Caputa bands comprise the Southern Ute Tribe and are headquartered at Ignacio, Colorado.

 Official Tribal Name: Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation


Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:

Alternate names / Alternate spellings:

Name in other languages:

Region: Plateau

State(s) Today: Colorado

Traditional Territory: The Ute people are the oldest residents of Colorado, inhabiting the mountains and vast areas of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Eastern Nevada, Northern New Mexico and Arizona.   Archeologists say ancestors of the Ute appear to have occupied this area or nearby areas for at least a thousand years. According to tribal history, they have lived here since the beginning of time.

Ancestors of the Utes were the Uto-Aztecs, who spoke one common language; they possessed a set of central values, and had a highly developed society.

The Utes settled around the lake areas of Utah, some of which became the Paiute, other groups spread north and east and separated into the Shoshone and Comanche people, and some traveled south becoming the Chemehuevi and Kawaiisus.  The remaining Ute people became a loose confederation of tribal units called bands.  The names of the bands and the areas they lived in before European contact are as follows:

The Mouache band lived on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, from Denver south to Trinidad, Colorado, and further south to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The Caputa band lived east of the Continental Divide, south of the Conejos River and in the San Luis Valley near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.  They frequented the region near Chama and Tierra Amarilla.  A few family units also lived in the shadow of Chimney Rock, now a designated United States National Monument.

The Weenuchiu occupied the valley of the San Juan River and its north tributaries in Colorado and Northwestern New Mexico.  The Uncompahgre (Tabeguache) were located near the Uncompahgre and Gunnison, and Elk Rivers near Montrose and Grand Junction, Colorado.

The White River Ute (Parianuche and Yamparika) lived in the alleys of the White and Yampa river systems, and in the North and middle park regions of the Colorado Mountains, extending west to Eastern Utah.  The Uintah lived east of Utah Lake to the Uinta Basin of the Tavaputs plateau near the Grand and Colorado River systems.

The Pahvant occupied the desert area in the Sevier Lake region and west of the Wasatch Mountains near the Nevada boundary.  They inter-married with the Goshute and Paiute in Southern Utah and Nevada. The Timonogots lived in the south and eastern area of Utah Lake, to North Central Utah.  The Sanpits (San Pitch) lived in the Sapete Valley, Central Utah and Sevier River Valley.  The Moanumts lived in the upper Sapete Valley, Central Utah, in the Otter Creek region of Salum, Utah and Fish Lake area; they also intermarried with the Southern Paiutes.  The Sheberetch lived in the area now known as Moab, Utah, and were more desert oriented.  The Comumba/Weber band was a very small group and intermarried and joined the Northern and Western Shoshone.

Today, the Mouache and Caputa bands comprise the Southern Ute Tribe and are headquartered at Ignacio, Colorado.  The Weenuchiu, now known as the Ute Mountain Utes are headquartered at Towaoc, Colorado.  The Tabeguache, Grand, Yampa and Uintah bands comprise the Northern Ute Tribe located on the Uintah-Ouray reservation next to Fort Duchesne, Utah.

Confederacy: Ute


Following acquisition of Ute territory from Mexico by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo the United States made a series of treaties with the Ute:

  • 1849 treaty of peace
  • 1863 treaty relinquishing the San Luis Valley
  • Treaty with The Ute March 2, 1868 by which the Ute retained all of Colorado Territory west of longitude 107° west and relinquished all of Colorado Territory east of longitude 107° west.
  • Treaty with the Capote, Muache, and Weeminuche Bands establishing the Southern Ute Reservation and the Mountain Ute Reservation

Reservation: Southern Ute Reservation

The Southern Ute Indian Reservation lies in southwestern Colorado, USA, along the northern border of New Mexico. Its largest communities are Ignacio and Arboles.

Established in 1873, it is the reservation of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, a federally recognized Ute tribe.
Land Area:  1,058.785 sq mi
Tribal Headquarters:   Ignacio, Colorado
Time Zone:  

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today: The 1990 Ute population was 1044.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Charter:  Indian Reorganization Act of 1934
Name of Governing Body:  Tribal Council
Number of Council members:  
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  Chairman,


Language Classification:  Uto-Aztecan -> Shoshonean

Language Dialects: Shoshonean.

Number of fluent Speakers:



Bands, Gens, and Clans

Related Tribes:

It is believed that the people who speak Shoshonean separated from other Ute-Aztecan speaking groups, such as the Paiute, Goshute, Shoshone-Bannock, Comanche, Chemehuevi and some tribes in California

Read more: US Tribes T to V – AAA Native Arts


Traditional Allies:

The Utes traded with various Puebloan peoples such as the Taos and were close allies with the Jicarilla Apache who shared much of the same territory.

Traditional Enemies:

The enemies of the Ute included the Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Arapaho to the north of Ute territory. East and southeast of Ute territory they fought with the Sioux, Pawnee, Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache. To the west and south they encountered Navajo, Paiute, and Western Shoshone.

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Modern Day Events & Tourism:

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Subsistance:  Prior to acquiring the horse, the Utes lived off the land establishing a unique relationship with the ecosystem.   They would travel and camp in familiar sites and use well established routes such as the Ute Trail that can still be seen in the forests of the Grand Mesa, and the forerunner of the scenic highway traversing through South Park, and Cascade, Colorado.

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs


Historical Leaders:

  • Polk, Ute-Paiute chief
  • Posey, Ute-Paiute chief
  • Chief Ouray – leader of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe
  • Chipeta – Ouray’s wife and Ute delegate to negotiations with federal government


Raoul Trujillo – dancer, choreographer, and actor




Joseph Rael, (b. 1935), dancer, author, and spiritualist

Drum Groups:


R. Carlos Nakai – Native American flutist

Other Famous Contemporary People:

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

Prior to the arrival of Mexican settlers, the Utes occupied significant portions of what are today eastern Utah, western Colorado, including the San Luis Valley, and parts of New Mexico and Wyoming.

The Utes were never a unified group within historic times; instead, they consisted of numerous nomadic bands that maintained close associations with other neighboring groups.

The 17 largest known groups were the Capote, Cumumba, Moache, Moanumts, Pah Vant, Parianuche, San Pitch, Sheberetch, Taviwach, Timanogots, Tumpanawach, Uinta, Uncompahgre, White River, Weeminuche, and Yamperika.

The original homeland of the Uto-Aztecan languages is generally considered to have existed along the border between the United States and Mexico, perhaps in the area of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as part of the Northern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. From this area, speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages gradually diffused northward and southward, to include tribes such as the Shoshone and Comanche on the north and east, and the Aztecs in the south.

Unlike many other tribal groups in this region, the Utes have no tradition or evidence of historic migration to the areas now known as Colorado and Utah—and ancestors of the Ute appear to have occupied this area or nearby areas for at least a thousand years. The last partial migration of the Utes within this area was in the year 1885.

In the News:

Further Reading:


US Tribes Q-S
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