Timeline, Maps and Art

Quick historical context:


  • 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • 1806 Captain Zebulon Pike was sent to explore the Colorado Rockies.
  • 1823 Johnson vs. McIntosh Supreme Court Decision: Indian Tribes had no power to grant lands to anyone other than the federal government. The federal government, in turn, held title to the all land based upon the “doctrine of discovery.”
  • 1824-1844 Trappers seek fur and trade in Ute Lands.
  • 1824 Ashley’s expedition of the Uintah Basin 1826-1827. Opening of the Old Spanish Trail on Ute lands.
  • 1830 Indian Removal Act, President Andrew Jackson (Eastern Tribes).
  • 1830-1848 Ute levied “tax” on the Spanish Traders. Ute traded animal pelts of beaver and otter, and tanned hides of elk, deer, mountain sheep, and buffalo for weapons, ammunition, blankets, utensils, and trinkets.
  • 1831 Antoinne Robidoux opened a trading post in the Northern end of the Basin.
  • 1833 Fort Kit Carson established near the present day Ouray Community
  • 1837 Fort Uncomphagre established at confluence of Gunnison and Uncomphagre rivers, Northwestern Colorado. Also Fort Robidoux is established.
  • 1840s The Oregon Trail is started to be used. Over the next 25 years, more than a half of million of people went west on the Trail.
  • 1843 Lieutenant John Charles Freemont traveled trough Utah Ute lands, leading the first scientific exploration of the area.
  • 1844 Fort Robidoux is burned by Ute Indians.
  • 1847 Mormons arrived to Salt Lake City.
  • 1848 The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ends the Mexican War and enlarges the U.S. territory to include Ute Lands.
  • 1849 Agent Calhoun negotiates a treaty with the Ute people at Abiqui, New Mexico. Captain Howard Stansbury of the U.S. Topographical Engineers was sent to begin a survey for a military post on the edge of the desert.
  • 1850 Mormon militia attacks a Ute group near Fort Utah. They laid siege to a group of about seventy people lead by Big Elk and Ope-Carry.
  • 1851 The Utah territorial Indian Agency was established by Congress.
  • 1853-1854 Wakara (Walker) led the Utah Utes in a series of raids on Mormon settlements, known as the Walker War.
  • 1854 Peace was arranged by Brigham Young and Wakara at Chicken Creek in May.
  • 1855 Wakara died in January. Kapota and Moache were forced to sign peace treaties (never ratified).
  • 1856 Indian Agent Gallard Hurt established Indian farms at the Corn Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, and Spanish Fork.
  • 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre.
  • 1858 Federal Troops arrived in Utah to resolve rising tensions between Mormons and the U.S. government. Indian Agent Jacob Forney accompanied the troops.
  • 1859 Gold was discovered in Pikes Peak area.
  • 1860s Major John Wesley Powell began a survey of Ute lands.
  • 1861 Brigham Young sent a small party to explore the basin for possible settlement and reported it was valueless. President Lincoln set Uintah Valley aside as a Ute Reservation. Establishment of Colorado Territory.
  • 1863 Tumpanawach, Pah-vant, Parianuche, and Yamparika Utes met in central Utah. Black Hawk led a series of raids (the Black Hawk Wars). John Nicolay, secretary to Pres. Lincoln was sent west to head a commission to deal with the Utes. One tribe got its territory described in the process. Following skirmishes between the Taviwach band and intruding prospectors in the Middle Park area, Taviwach leaders signed a treaty relinquishing the Colorado territory and its mineral rights.
  • 1864 Feb. 1: Indian commissioners ordered to collect and remove Indians. March 25: Congress ratified the Taviwach treaty. May 5: Congress ratified the set-aside of the Uintah Valley Reservation. It consisted of a vast area of land far removed from any pioneer settlement. The valley was accessed by a single wagon road extending 200 miles from Salt Lake City over rough and uneven terrain, rivers, streams, and mountain passes. Mormons asked for the removal of the Utes to the Sanpete and Uintah Valley. November 29: At Sand Creek, John Chivington led the Colorado Volunteers in a dawn attack on Black Kettle and his band, who had been told they would be safe on this desolate reservation. Two hundred Cheyenne men, women and children were slaughtered, and their corpses often grotesquely mutilated.
  • 1865 April 9: the end of the Civil War. June 8: Treaty between U.S. and the Ute Tribes of eastern Utah in which they ceded all their land claims except for the Uintah Valley, which was reserved for their exclusive use and occupation. Never ratified. August 15: Sixteen chiefs of the Southern Plains tribes met Brig. Gen. Sanborn in Arkansas to arrange a cease-fire and an autumn peace conference. October: Treaty between U.S. and the “Weber” Ute Indians.
  • 1865-1868 Black Hawk War.
  • 1866 August 29: Treaty between U.S. and the Uintah and Yampa Utes. Circleville residents arrested and killed all the adult Utes at a nearby Ute camp.
  • 1867 Most of the Utah Utes were forced onto the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
  • 1868 March 2: A treaty was signed by the Uncompahgre. Whiterocks Agency was established on the Uintah Reservation. Agencies established for the Colorado Ute at Whiteriver and Rio de Los Pinos. November 27: Chief Black Kettle and a Southern Cheyenne peaceful village at Washita was attacked by U.S. Cavalry under Lt. Col. Custer.
  • 1870 Chief Black Hawk died. Establishment of Whiteriver agency.
  • 1872 The Secretary of the Interior convinced Congress to draw up a new treaty that had no discussion with Indians before hand. The Indians defeated it.
  • 1873 The Brunot Agreement deprived the Ute people of San Juan Mountain land and gold deposits. U.S. government officials appointed Ouray as Head Chief of the Utes.
  • 1876 June 25: Federal troops led by Lt. Col. Custer and a band of Sioux and Cheyennes confronted in the Battle of Little Bighorn, Montana. The U.S. government had ordered the northern Plains tribes to return to designated reservations and had sent troops to enforce the order. They hoped to surround an Indian encampment, but a party of 200 soldiers launched an early attack and was slaughtered. Government troops subsequently flooded into the area and forced the Indians to surrender.
  • 1877 Flight of the Nez Perce from their homelands while pursued by U.S. Army Generals Howard, Sturgis and Miles. Chief Joseph’s camp was captured in the Battle of Bear Paw, a few miles South of Canada. Chief Joseph’s Speeches.
  • 1878 Meeker became agent at Whiteriver agency.
  • 1879 Meeker was killed by Yamparika Utes. As a result, officials forced the Colorado Utes to sign an agreement which removed the Yamparika and Taviwach Utes to Utah.
  • 1880 March 6: Treaty signed by the Indians. June 15: Treaty signed by congress for Indian removal from Colorado. August 24: Death of Ouray.
  • 1880-1891 Ghost Dance Movement.
  • 1881 Yamparika Utes are moved to the Uintah Reservation in Utah.
  • 1882 January 5: Establishment of the Uncompahgre Reservation. The northern and central Colorado Utes were forced onto the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
  • 1885 Miners found Gilsonite.
  • 1886 Uintah and Ouray agencies are consolidated.
  • 1887 President Cleveland established the Fort Duchesne Military reservation near the Agency.


Historical maps (click to enlarge):



1853 – Note how the eastern Plains were called Indian Territory.

“Mitchell’s map shows the West shortly after the start of the Gold Rush, but before the creation of Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The map shows Spanish Trail, Cooke’s Wagon Route, Kearney’s Route, Lewis & Clarke’s Canoe Route, Oregon Route, early roads, towns, Indian Tribes, mining claims, mountains, rivers, etc. (…). Nice topographical detail after Fremont, although still very conjectural in the Great Basin. The Southwest is dominated by several massive counties which extend the width of Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory.”


Utah 1857

1857. “Rogers & Johnston’s map is the only commercial atlas map to show Utah Territory on a single map. (…) The map is colored by counties and shows a number of interesting details, including towns, springs, Indian details, topographical information, forts, mountains, etc. A portion of Colorado and all of Arizona appear on the map. Includes important early roads, several interesting annotations, elevations, etc. Each of the counties traverse the entire territory. Excellent detail near Bigler Lake, the Pillars, of Atlas, Mud Lake, etc.”



1858. “Gorgeous example of Colton’s New Mexico & Utah Territories map, exceptionally detailed and showing Fremont’s 1844 and 1845 Routes, the Spanish trail from Los Angeles to New Mexico, Kearney’s Route, Col. Washington’s Expedition, the Cimmarron Route, and the location where Capt. Gunnison was ambushed by the Ute Indians. Locates numerous forts, roads, Indian information, and the proposed route for the Pacific RR.”



1862. “The Ebert-Gilpin map of Colorado Territory presents Colorado as politically advanced, divided up into seventeen counties besides an ‘Indian Reserve’ on the Plains. A great many cities and mining camps are located down the length of the Rockies (…). Topography is drawn in to an impressive degree (…). Principal roads are shown, and notable among them is the ‘Road to Salt Lake’ (…). The map includes over two dozen annotations, including (…) the boundary in Western Colorado created pursuant to the Ute Indian Treaty of March 2, 1868.”


Nebraska Colorado 1863.jpg

1863. “Excellent early map of the region (…). The gold regions near Denver are shown, as are a number of Indian tribes, early towns, forts, (…) early proposed railroads, rivers, mountains, etc. The plains region is still very much in transition, with the results of several major explorations commenced immediately after the civil war not yet in evidence. (…) Also shows portions of New Mexico, Texas, and Indian Territory.”


the West 1865.jpg

1865. “This is one of the most detailed accurate commercial maps of the era. It includes explorers routes, the major routes of commerces, towns, forts, Indian tribes, mountains, rivers, roads, mining districts, proposed railroad routes, and important dates in the evolution of the US-Mexico Boundary. Johnson’s map of the West (…) was updated annually or more often, showing profound territorial boundary changes and county formations from year to year and even within a single year.”

Sources: RareMaps.com


The Uintah and Ouray Reservation:



ute people 1846



Cross Mountain and the Yampa River:






The Yampa River flowing through Dinosaur Monument Park:

Yampa River flowing through Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado 20140719


Looking east, toward the western gorge mouth of Cross Moutain:

Cross Mountain 2


Looking west, from the western gorge mouth of Cross Mountain:

Cross Mountain downstream west


Deerlodge Park:



The Yampa flowing east of Cross Mountain:

Yampah Valley 3.jpg


Meeker, originally horse racing field of the Ute:



Paintings of Utes by James Ayers:



Ute 6.JPG




More Native American art here