Ute Tribe returns to Steamboat for powwow performances
Members of the Ute tribe from the Uintah and Ouray Reservation will return to Steamboat Springs to perform a series of powwow dance performances and share the history of these dances and their culture.
Hosted by the Tread of Pioneers Museum, there will be four presentations throughout the week; one for the public at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Steamboat Springs Community Center and four school assembly performances for students at Sleeping Giant School and Strawberry Park Elementary School that same day. The tribe will also open the Governor’s Luncheon at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit at the Yampa River Botanic Park on Thursday.
The Ute Indians are Colorado’s oldest documented inhabitants. Written records indicate Ute presence in the Yampa Valley since the late 1500s. In the Yampa Valley, the Ute band was known as the “Yampatika” or “Yamparica” band. They spent the summers hunting and soaking in the healing minerals springs and left the valley in the winter to follow their food sources to lower elevation and milder climates.
Candice Bannister, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers, said that in her 20 years at the museum, it has become apparent to her that it is the museum’s responsibility and privilege to continue to connect the Ute tribe with the community of Steamboat.
“They are the original inhabitants of this area, but a lot of our written history focuses on post-pioneer history,” Bannister said. “That’s important, too, but we want to make sure we’re telling the full story and honoring the first inhabitants. It’s as important to our history as anything that’s come after.”
Kea Tarness, of the Uintah River High School, helps coordinate the students and tribe members who will perform the powwows this week.
“It is an important asset for our community’s youth,” Tarness said. “Our people, before the modern times, believed that family was everything. Our grandmothers and grandfathers taught the kids things that their parents taught them. It brings the people together to celebrate many things like life, introduction to the pow-wow circle, holidays and more.”
Tarness said the group coming to Steamboat will be of varied age and from different families in the Uintah Basin. Some are returning to Steamboat, while others have done many performances with other groups who travel within the state or with their family.
What: Ute Indian Pow Wow Dance Performance and History Presentation
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
Note: All guests over 12 are required to be vaccinated, and all guests are required to wear a mask indoors.
This is the fourth year the Ute tribe has visited Steamboat to perform and share their history and culture with the community and local students.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the Ute tribe perform at Strawberry Park Elementary,” Principal Dr. Celine Wicks said. “Our students are immensely excited to have an up-close experience of such historical importance. We cannot thank the Tread of Pioneers Museum enough for bringing the powwow to our school.”
Bannister said that in all museum programming, the single largest focus is community outreach through education and events.
“Events like this create stewardship and appreciation,” she said. “In providing these experiences to children, the sooner they understand and appreciate their culture and this place, the better stewards we can have in the future.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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Witches and goblins and ghosts, oh my!