As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa Utes

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As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa Utes
Series Title:
As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa Utes
Simmons, Virginia McConnell
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa Utes | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:51:11 AM] Home As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa UtesAs If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa UtesSubmitted by nwharton on 7-11-2012 09:51 AMAuthor: Robert S. McPherson Publishing: Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2011. 440 pages. Photographs, maps, bibliography, index, notes. 8 x 11. $29.95 paperback. Reviewer: Virginia McConnell Simmons At the invitation of the White Mesa Ute Council, Robert S. McPherson has written this volume about the White Mesa Ute Indians who live in southeastern Utah. A resident of the area, professor at the College of Eastern Utah at Blanding, and author of several books and articles about the area, he was well equipped for the task. With this project, McPherson has provided much-needed information about these Ute Indians whose story has been neglected in published literature outside Utah and who will be of interest to scholars and general readers in Colorado and elsewhere. Colorados historians, ethnologists, and even the states Native American studies have largely ignored the White Mesa Utes, who are related to Colorados Weenuche Ute Indians. The group in Utah is linked administratively with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (the Weenuches, or Weminuches) at Towaoc, although the relationship has not always been harmonious, and the White Mesa Utes were also at one time linked with the Consolidated Ute Agency at Ignacio, neither harmoniously nor conveniently. To further help visitors locate the White Mesa Ute Indians, the principal Ute community today is along U.S. 191 south of Blanding, and members have also resided since about 1925 on allotments at Allen Canyon northwest of Blanding and at Cottonwood Wash. In the past, a noteworthy group lived in Montezuma Canyon. A map of their homeland (p. 32) includes the San Juan River on the south as a boundary, a line east to about Dove Creek in Colorado, another north to the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, and west to part of Lake Powell. Setting the tone for each chapter, a moving introductory quotation from a Ute speaker illustrates attitudes and beliefs of the people, and the author offers several personal descriptions of people and places. A remarkable number of photographs, archival and contemporary, complement the narrative, and a striking painting by Blanding artist Kelly Pugh graces the cover. Consequently, a reader receives a sensitive but not sentimental introduction to this group. As McPherson proposes, the White Mesa Ute Indians belong linguistically to the Numic-speaking people, and they were in the region that they now occupy by 1300, arguably, or by the 1500s. White Mesa Ute culture is part of a complex co-mingling of Ute, Paiute, Navajo, Mormon settlers, and Anglo cattlemen, and it is marked by rangeland disputes, state and federal government influences, trading posts, renegades, and the imprisonment of Native Americans in a compound at Blanding. Instances of goodwill along with antagonism and conflict occurred not only with white settlers but also with neighboring Navajos. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanIn 1893, Colorado became the first state in the union to allow women the right to vote through popular election.


As If the Land Owned Us: An Ethnohistory of the White Mesa Utes | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:51:11 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us McPhersons text takes the reader from their creation stories to todays efforts at accommodating to the world of 2010. He concludes: Whether considering the Spanish and Mexican periods and the burgeoning slave trade...; the introduction of horses and livestock, which both blessed and cursed the Ute way of life; encroachments on Ute land by Mormons and others, and the competition for resources; the conflicts that followed, where many of battles were won but the war was lost; the early reservation years on allotments in Allen Canyon and later White Mesa; or the challenges of the 1950s to the presentthe people of White Mesa have remained true to their core beliefs. (364) McPherson has provided prodigious documentation and an exceptional bibliography. The organization of chapters and of information within them may present a few problems for the reader, but the index resolves most such issues. To assist in covering the mass of historical information, timelines might have been helpful. All in all, this volume will be an essential source on the White Mesa Ute Indians. Reviewer Info: Virginia McConnell Simmons is the author of The Ute Indians of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico (University Press of Colorado, 2000) and of numerous books, booklets, and articles about Colorado and the West. In her lengthy career, she has also been a book and magazine editor, a journalist in Saudi Arabia, and a newspaper columnist in the San Luis Valley.