Tales from the Tread: Ute Indian event returns | SteamboatToday.com

Tales from the Tread: Ute Indian event returns

 Sequiah Tallbird, 17, Women’s Fancy Dance. Sequiah has been dancing since she was a toddler.
Courtesy photo

On Thursday, May 16, the Tread of Pioneers Museum will once again proudly host the Ute Indian Powwow Dance Performance and History Presentation. The Nah-Na-Mah Culture Club of the Uintah River High School from Fort Duchesne, Utah, will perform powwow dances and music and share the history and meaning of their dances and regalia in four presentations.

Two will be for the public at 5 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Steamboat Springs High School Auditorium, and two will be private showings for Soda Creek Elementary students on Friday, May 17. All of the presentations are free to the public and to students, courtesy of the Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Ute Indian Tribe.

“The Ute Indians were the original native inhabitants of the Yampa Valley, and the Tread of Pioneers Museum is thrilled to host these performers who will share their beautiful culture with our community,” said Candice Bannister, the event’s organizer and Tread of Pioneers Museum executive director. “This is our third year hosting the tribe for this event, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the relationship between our communities.”

“This event allows us to come together to experience a part of our culture in powwow dancing,” said Kea Tarness of the Uintah River High School. “The students love to dance, and they love to go to different places to perform … and to help keep our traditions alive.”

“It is important that we tell the story of local heritage through the voices and perspectives of the people who lived it and to involve our community as much as possible,” said Bannister. “Through exhibits and programs and events, such as this, we want to create engaging opportunities for local residents and visitors to witness this powerful and beautiful culture and learn first-hand from the Ute people themselves.”

Bannister hopes to increase awareness and appreciation of Ute Indian history and culture while also providing an opportunity for Ute Indian youth to connect with their ancestral lands and the city of Steamboat Springs. 

“We want to invite the entire community to join us in welcoming and hosting the Ute tribe. It is an honor and privilege for the museum to serve both communities in this way.”

The powwow event is free, but all voluntary donations will support the Ute language preservation project. 

If you go

What: Ute Indian Powwow Dance Performance and History Presentation
When: 5:00 and 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 16
Where: Steamboat Springs High School Auditorium, 45 Maple St.
Cost: Free
Info: treadofpioneers.org

Local Ute Indian history

The Ute Indians, who call themselves “Nuche,” meaning “the people,” are Colorado’s oldest documented inhabitants. Written historical records indicate specific Ute presence in the Yampa Valley since the late 1500s, though linguistic evidence indicates the 1300s.

The Ute band of the Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs was the “Yampatika” or “Yamparica” band. They spent the summers hunting game, gathering food and soaking in the curative waters of the local mineral springs. They left the Yampa Valley in the winters to follow their food sources to lower elevations and milder climates. 

Though contact with the earliest settlers in the Yampa Valley was considered peaceful, as more settlers arrived in the Yampa Valley and demands on the land increased, conflicts arose. The Ute tribes of Colorado were forcibly removed by the U.S government to reservations in the 1880s.

Today, there are three separate Ute reservations throughout Colorado and Utah: the Uintah-Ouray, the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute reservations.

The Tread of Pioneers Museum is located at 800 Oak St. in Steamboat Springs.

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