Museum of Northern Arizona exterior

Southern Ute

“Ute” means “high land” or “Land of the sun” —for which the state of Utah was named. The Ute people speak a Numic language, a division of the Uto-Aztecan family. Historically, the Ute were never a unified group, but traveled as nomadic groups.

The Ute people established themselves in the Four Corners region by 1500 A.D.  They were mobile hunter-gatherers who ranged over a wide territory on foot before the introduction of horses by the Spanish in the 17th century. The Ute people resisted colonization but in 1869 many Utes were forced to settle in reservations. In 1905 the United States government created additional reservations for the Utes, which drastically reduced their traditional land.

There are three Ute tribal reservations: the Unitah-Ouray in northeastern Utah, the Southern Ute in southern Colorado, and the Ute Mountain in southern Colorado, southeastern Utah, northern New Mexico. The Ute still live on reservations and small settlements, and work primarily in service industry, education, resource management, heritage tourism, and gaming.

For more information:

Ute Mountain Tribe

Southern Ute Tribe

Unitah-Ouray Tribe