History of Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, Utah
Courtesy of Utah History Encyclopedia. (Links Added)

The intrusion of Mormon settlers onto Utah Indian lands in 1847 touched off an extended period of conflict between Mormons and several Ute (Nuciu) bands in particular. By 1860, Ute Indian agents suggested removing these Indians to the Uintah Basin. Brigham Young agreed to the proposal after satisfying himself that the isolated area was "one vast contiguity of waste," fit only for "nomadic purposes, hunting grounds for Indians and to hold the world together." In 1861, Abraham Lincoln set aside the Uintah Valley Reservation, comprising 2,039,400 acres in the Uintah Basin. By 1870 most members of the Tumpanuwac, San Pitch, Pahvant, Sheberetch, Cumumba, and Uinta-at bands of Utah Utes (collectively called the Uintah Band) resided on the Uintah Reservation.

In 1881, following a uprising of Colorado Utes, the federal government forcibly removed members of the Yamparka and Parianuc bands (known as the White River Utes) to the Uintah Reservation. The peaceful Taviwac (Uncompahgre Utes), led by Chief Ouray, could not escape removal, but managed to obtain their own reservation in 1882 -- the 1,912,320 acre Ouray Reservation, situated on the Tavaputs Plateau, immediately south of the Uintah Reservation. The two reservations maintained separate agencies at Whiterocks and Ouray until the Bureau of Indian Affairs merged their administration in 1886. The Indian agency was moved from Whiterocks to Fort Duchesne after the military post closed in 1912.

Following the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Northern Ute Tribe began repurchasing alienated reservation lands. In 1948 the federal government returned some 726,000 acres to the tribe in what is called the Hill Creek Extension. In a 1986 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Appeals Court ruling granting the Northern Ute Tribe "legal jurisdiction" over three million acres of alienated reservation lands -- an important decision for the future of the tribe and the region.

See: Donald Callaway, Joel Janetski, and Omer C. Stewart, "Ute," in Great Basin, edited by Warren L. D'Azevedo, vol. 11 of Handbook of North American Indians (1986); Fred A. Conetah, A History of the Northern Ute People (1982); Joseph G. Jorgensen, The Sun Dance Religion: Power for the Powerless (1972); Kathryn L. MacKay, "The Strawberry Valley Reclamation Project and the Opening of the Uintah Indian Reservation," Utah Historical Quarterly, 50 (Winter 1982); Floyd A. O'Neil, "Reluctant Suzerainty: The Uintah and Ouray Reservation," Utah Historical Quarterly, 39 (Spring 1971); Floyd A. O'Neil and Kathryn L. MacKay, A History of the Uintah-Ouray Ute Lands, American West Occasional Papers no. 10 (1979).

Rich Lewis

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