USDA Blog: Tribes document historic wickiup sites in Colorado

The remains of a free-standing wickiup is inspected in Mesa County, Colorado. Wickiups were used by Ute tribes Colorado and are still in use for ceremonial purposes. Photo by Dominguez Archaeological Research Group via USDA / Flickr

The Southern Ute Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe have been working with the U.S. Forest Service to document wickiup sites on federal lands in Colorado:
There are small piles of fallen wooden timbers on national forests in the Rocky Mountain Region that tell a story of the area’s past. They are part of aboriginal wooden structures known as wickiups, a conical-shaped dwelling used by native people.

These relics are known to be part of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado and are still in use for ceremonial purposes. The relics are part of the tribe’s legacy of living on these lands and are a part of the cultural history on the Grand Mesa – Uncompahgre – Gunnison, San Juan, White River and Rio Grande national forests.

“Part of the Forest Service mission includes interpretive services, which includes sharing with the public how these lands have been used by those who came before us,” said Brian Ferebee, deputy regional forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. “Wickiups and other aboriginal wooden features, such as tree platforms and brush fences, were once commonplace in Colorado. Few examples are still in existence; the majority of the remaining features can be associated with Ute culture and consequently represent the only surviving architecture of the state’s living indigenous peoples.”

Since 2003, the Forest Service has participated in the Colorado Wickiup Project to document historic aboriginal wooden structures in the state. The project is managed by the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group in partnership with the Ute Indian Tribe of northeastern Utah, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes of southwestern Colorado, and other public land management agencies and supported by state funding.

Get the Story:
Michael Stearly: Archaeological Heritage of Colorado’s Ute Tribe Part of National Forests’ History in Rocky Mountain Region (USDA Blog 1/9)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Tribes help document historic wickiup sites in Colorado (3/24)

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