Colorado Native Americans:
The First Humans to Discover the West

photo courtesy of National Archives

Colorado Native Americans were the very first people to inhabit the area. They lived in the territory for thousands of years being hunting and gathering tribes.

The first Native Americans were prehistoric and were called Paleo-Indians..  They lived before the printed word and knowledge of these people come from the archeologists who have excavated known sites.

Excavations have shown the lost tribe, the Anasazi Indians, who vanished without a trace, lived in the four corners region of Colorado.

Many other sites have been found that were ceremonial grounds and burial grounds of many different tribes of the area.

Pottery, hunting tools, arrow heads and such have been unearthed all over the state.

I became interested in Native Americans in the area soon after moving to our place in the shadow of Pikes Peak.

I soon discovered that our property was part of ceremonial grounds for the Ute Indians hundreds of years ago. 

This information has set me off in a direction of history that you will read about later on.

For instance, the Utes communicated, prayed and healed the sick using Native Scarred Trees.

The prominent Colorado Native Americans are the Navajo, Ute, and Cheyenne-Arapahoe Indians.

We find the Navajo in the southwest corner of Colorado, the Utes in the Pikes Peak area and most of Colorado, and the Cheyenne and Arapahoe on the Colorado plains.

Very proud people and rich in their history, each tribe has brought its own culture to Colorado and you can find it in the areas where they inhabited.

And, unfortunately, as with all areas of the old west, Indians were in the way of the western migration and settlement.  They had to go. 

This was a horrible time.  These people were the first to settle our country, hence the name Native Americans.

Normally peaceful people, they would fight for their land that was being taken from them.  Wouldn't you?

So many atrocities were committed against these noble people and all they wanted to do was live in peace.

The worst crime against Native Americans in Colorado was the Sand Creek Massacre, which we'll look at later on.

Relegated to reservations and living conditions worse than slums, the Native Americans still survived.

Many descendants of these tribes still call Colorado home.  And a few times a year they get together and put on re-enactments of happier times in their history.

So, let's get started on a journey into another time and learn about the original inhabitants of Colorado.

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