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Cortez in Montezuma County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The Native Americans

12,000 Years of History

 
 
The Native Americans Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 14, 2020
1. The Native Americans Marker
Inscription.  

For more than 12,000 years, Native American people have inhabited this area. As the Ice Age ended, these nomadic people hunted bison and mastodons in the valleys, and gathered plants along the edges of glacial lakes and wetlands. These first Americans traveled great distances in search of big game. Today they are referred to as Paleo-Indians and Archaic Hunters.

About 1500 BC, the Ancestral Puebloan People began to settle the Four Corners. The Basketmaker Period marks the transition from a nomadic existance to a more sedentary life-style with cultivated crops. During this period, they built pithouses in small villages and wove intricate baskets to gather and store food. The Ancestral Puebloans depended on native plants and wildlife but supplemented their diet with crops of corn and amaranth.

As the population grew, the Ancestral Puebloans built above-ground villages (Pueblo I and Pueblo II) and produced pottery. In addition to corn and amaranth they grew beans, squash, and melons and were skilled hunters of deer, elk, bear, turkey and rabbits.

At its peak,

The Native Americans Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 14, 2020
2. The Native Americans Marker
At the Colorado Welcome Center kiosk.
as many as 30,000 Ancestral Puebloan People lived in what is now Montezuma County. During this time (Pueblo III) they developed multi-storied villages and built cliff dwellings in sandstone alcoves.

About AD 1300, the Ancestral Puebloans migrated from this area to the mesas of northeastern Arizona and along the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Their descendents are the Pueblo People living in modern communities in New Mexico and Arizona. The Pueblo People consider the Four Corners their traditional homelands.

[Bottom left three photo captions read]
• Tower site in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

• Far View village and tower in Mesa Verde National Park.

• Hopi dancers at Chimney Rock Archeological Area.

The Navajo, or Diné, believe they have always been a part of the Southwest. Accoring to the Diné, the world in which we now live, [is] the "earth surface world." In this world the universe is an orderly system of elements that contains both good and evil. When this world began, the First People created the four cardinal mountains.

To the east, Tsisnaasjiní — white mountain (Mt. Blanca)
To the south, Tsoodzil — blue mountain (Mt. Taylor)
To the west, Doko'ooslííd — yellow mountain (San Francisco Peaks)
To the north, Dibé Ntsaa — black mountain (Mt. Hesperus).

[Navajo

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photo/illustration captions read]
• Navajo riders near Shiprock, circa 1900.

• Navajo weavers using traditional designs to create exquisite rugs.

• Diné Bikéyah — The Land of the Diné [map]

The Ute call themselves the "People of the Shining Mountains." At one time the nomadic Ute inhabited all of Colorado. They moved seasonally between the mountains and valleys to hunt and gather food, or to rendevous with other Ute bands. With the discovery of gold, Euro-American prospectors trespassed on Ute land. Seeing the wave of settlers, Chief Ouray negotiated the Brunot Treaty with the United States in 1873 that allowed miners and settlers to occupy Ute land.

In 1879, a confrontation between the Ute and Indian Agent, Nathan Meeker, at the White River Indian Agency, led to the death of Meeker. As a result, the Utes were forced to accept reservation land in southern Colorado and central Utah.

[Ute illustration captions read]
• [Map] The original Ute homeland included traditional hunting grounds in what is now Colorado, Utah, southern Wyoming, and northern New Mexico.

• [Map] The Ute reservation was established under the Ute Treaty of 1863. When silver was discovered in the San Juan Mountains, the 1873 Brunot Agreement removed this area.

• [Map] Under pressure from white settlers, the federal government and

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the tribe negotiated a series of agreements resulting in the current reservation boundaries.

• Traditional Ute dance presented at the CU Center in Cortez.
 
Erected by US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and San Juan Mountains Association.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyEnvironmentNative Americans.
 
Location. 37° 20.953′ N, 108° 34.37′ W. Marker is in Cortez, Colorado, in Montezuma County. Marker is on Mildred Road north of Main Street (U.S. 160), on the left when traveling north. Marker is at the Colorado Welcome Center kiosk. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 928 East Main Street, Cortez CO 81321, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to the San Juan Skyway (here, next to this marker); Four Corners Resettled (here, next to this marker); Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (here, next to this marker); War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Owl Café (approx. 0.6 miles away); Cortez Public School (Calkins) (approx. 0.6 miles away); Belmont Bar (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cortez.
 
Also see . . .
1. Ancestral Puebloans of the Four Corners Region. (Submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Pueblo Indians (New World Encyclopedia). (Submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Mesa Verde National Park. (Submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. (Submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)

 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 40 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 16, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Mar. 7, 2021