Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
The oldest known continuous residents of Colorado are the Ute Indian people (Native American). The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (the Weeminuche band) has lived on this land for over 100 years. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's reservation lays in southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, and northern New Mexico. There are two communities on the Ute Reservation; the tribal headquarters in Towaoc, Colorado and the small community at White Mesa, Utah.
The tribal lands are on what's known as the Colorado Plateau, a high desert area with deep canyons carved through the mesas. This is a harsh land and there are no cities to provide services for the tribe. So the tribe must be self-sufficient by looking for other means of implementing progress and creating successful enterprises such as Farm & Ranch, Weeminuche Construction Authority, Ute Mountain Hotel/Casino, Ute Mountain Pottery, Travel Center and Sleeping Ute RV Park to serve the needs of the tribal members as well as create a healthy economy in which to live. The natural resources of the land provide the tribe's income. These resources include oil and gas, grazing land for herds of tribal members, and land and water for Farm & Ranch south of the Sleeping Ute Mountain.
The present reservation consists of 582,321 acres. The Tribal enrollment in 2011 was 2,095 with the majority of the members living on the reservation in Towaoc, Colorado (Montezuma County), and in White Mesa, Utah. In 2011, the Tribe was one of the largest employers in Montezuma County with 1,578 jobs in all aspects of tribal government and operations, and at its Ute Mountain Casino and RV Park. By having a foot print in three states the Tribe is in a unique position to interact with three distinct state governments, while retaining its sovereignty as a nation. Traditional values and customs are important to the culture and life of the Ute people. Annual events include Bear Dance, Sundance and gathering of natural plant life maintaining traditional/contemporary ways of life.
This area known as the Four Corners is rich in culture and history.
· There is the prehistory of "The Anasazi," the Ancient Ones, who lived here nearly 1000 years ago. They left the area long before the Ute Bands and the Plains Indians roamed the mountains and vast plains, now Eastern Colorado.
· The stories and legends of early Spanish priests and travelers who introduced horses to the Ute people while camped in the Dolores River Valley are fascinating. They were actually looking for a short cut to California to visit the missions.
· There are historical chronicles of early settlers who came here to the lush, fertile Montezuma Valley instead of going further west. Water is this valley's history and future.
After over 100 years of no water, the Colorado Ute Water Settlement Act of 1988 brought an end to years of legal battles for the tribe's water rights. Under that agreement, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe brought the first piped drinking water to the reservation and irrigation water to the Farm & Ranch project. This project was mandated within the Dolores Project (McPhee Dam).