The Ute Indians of the Colorado River Valley

Many BMR guests are curious about the history of the local Indians, so today’s “Fun Facts & History” gives a brief look at the Ute Indians that inhabited our area.

Early McCoy, Colorado

Most of this information comes from “Early McCoy” and a few other out-of-print books. The word Ute means “high land” or “land of the sun” and the Ute nation at one time encompassed around two-thirds of Colorado. In 1876, when Colorado became the 38th state, most of the Western Slope was still unexplored territory occupied by the Ute Indians. By the late 1800′s, most of the Utes had relocated to a reservation, however, a few continued to live in the McCoy area as late as 1903. Men would provide for the tribe by hunting deer, antelope, buffalo, rabbits and by fishing. The women would gather nuts, berries, and spend their spare time weaving baskets. Until they had discovered horses, they would travel the mountains by foot.

Chief Yarmonite Although we all know the tragic and often numbingly sad story of the settling of the West, some of the Indians were particularly friendly and instrumental in organizing peaceful co-existence with the new settlers. One in particular was Yarmonite, a sub-chief, who served as an ambassador to promote good will among the Indians and white settlers within the area between Steamboat Springs and McCoy. A mountain and park east of McCoy, a creek and ranch, a railroad siding near Gore Canyon, two of the early McCoy schools, and the Yarmony Post 195 of the American Legion were all named after Chief Yarmonite.

Stories have been passed down through generations that tell the settlers’ memories of the local Utes. One story states that as late as the 1920′s, old tepee poles and hunting or burial platforms could be found on the side of King Mountain, between McCoy and Burns. Another says that Yarmonite was buried in McCoy next to his horse so he wouldn’t have to walk to the happy hunting grounds. One could imagine our ranch land being roamed by the Utes; hunting for elk, deer or bear. Maybe we should start keeping an eye out for arrowheads!