Ute Mountain Ute

The Ute Mountain Utes still speak their native language and keep tradition, one of which is the annual spring Bear Dance that has been held in Towaoc for over 100 years. It is a celebration of the bear awakening from it's winter hibernation to lead the people to the early berries.
Because the Ute Mountain Utes and the Southern Utes share a common early history, that is on the Ute page.

Ute Southern Utes Bear Dance Sundance
Sleeping Ute Tribal Park

The Ute Mountain Ute Reservation was formed in 1897 by the Weeminuche Band of Utes. In 1895 they established a camp on the western end of the old Southern Ute Reservation, in what is today called Towaoc.

The vast majority of the present day reservation of 553,008 acres is located in Montezuma County, Colorado, and the remainder is located in San Juan County, New Mexico. It is owned by the tribe but held in trust by the U.S. According to the 1990 census there are 1,019 Ute Mountain Utes.

Elevations range from 4,600 feet along the San Juan River to 9,977 on Ute Peak and there is a diversity from badlands to grasslands and mesas.

Sleeping Ute Mountain

Towaoc is at the base of Sleeping Ute Mountain, which resembles a sleeping Indian with his headdress to the north. The legend is this was a Great Warrior God who helped fight against evil ones, and during the battle his feet formed the mountains and valleys. The Great Warrior God was wounded and while resting he fell into a deep sleep.

He continues to care for his people. Blood from his wound became living water and rain clouds come from his pockets. The changing of his blankets bring the seasons: dark green, yellow and red, and white.

Tribal Park

Ute Mountain Tribal Park, part of the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation, is 125,000 acres on a 25 mile stretch of the Mancos River. It was set aside by the tribe to preserve remnants of the Hisatsinom Culture, and is kept as a primitive area. Open year round.

The tribal capital of Towaoc, CO, is the only town on the reservation and most of the people live there. It is just over an hour north and west of Farmington. See Shiprock on the way.

Primitive is the keyword, featuring several hundred archaeological sites, which are part of the Mesa Verde ruins. There are many petroglyphs and Ute wall paintings. Day tours, short tours, mountain biking, backpacking, and camping are available. Reservations are required. Visitors MUST bring food and water.

Tours of the Ute Mountain Pottery Plant are available, 15 miles south of Cortez, CO, at Hwys. 160/666.

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
P.O. Box 248
Towaoc, CO 81334
(970) 565-3751
Tribal Park information: (800) 847-5485
Casino info: (800) 258-8007
Farmington information: 1-800-448-1240

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© Copyright 1998 by L. Michael Smith. Fair use granted.