The state of Utah is named after the Ute tribe.
The Ute Indians were Hunter-gatherers who hunted a variety of game and gathered seasonal plants.
In addition to their ancestral lands within Colorado and Utah, their historic hunting grounds extended into current-day Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico. The tribe also had sacred grounds outside their home domain that were visited seasonally.
The Ute often celebrated and participated in religious ceremonies centered on elements of nature. They were environmentally responsible, not over-hunting or taking more from the land than they needed for survival.
When the Spanish brought horses to the Ute, their lifestyle changed since the animals allowed them more mobility. As Mormon settlers moved into their area, they introduced the tribe to farming.
Over time, the Ute Indians turned to raiding white settlements and trading with settlers as a way of life. After a number of conflicts with settlers, the U.S. government forcibly removed the Ute from their territory and placed them on a reservation in 1869.
Visitors at the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park, located south of Cortez, have a chance to see a rare location this summer — but spots on the limited tours are filling up quickly.
Veronica Cuthair, director of the tribal park, said the tours occur on four Sundays in July and August and one is already full. Another special occurs on Memorial Day during the seventh annual Tribal Park Open House, which includes trips to several ruins. Regular tours run from March through October.