Last modified: 2010-11-06 by rick wyatt
Keywords: uintah & ouray ute | ute | utah | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 1 February 2008
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Uintah & Ouray Ute - Utah
The Uintah and Ouray reservation, originally established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, stretches over a land trust of over one million acres in the northeastern corner of Utah. Bordered to the north by the Uintah Mountains that reach as high as 13,000 feet, the land is home to about 3,200 Northern Utes.
In what the Utes call weetus ("long-ago Ute history"), twelve different bands roamed throughout Utah and Colorado as well as over northern Wyoming and New Mexico. The Spanish, who arrived around 1600 in search of gold, named them "Yutah," from which derive both "Ute" and Utah. By 1867, the six Utah Ute bands had been forced onto the Uintah reservation. They became known as the Uintah Utes, or Uintah Noochew, Noochew ("the People") being their name for themselves (Uintah & Ouray Ute Indian Tribe, a special information handout compiled by the Ute Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 14, 26 Mar. 1996). In 1881-82 three of the six Colorado Ute bands were also relocated to the Uintah reservation (the other three bands are now known as the Southern Utes and the Ute Mountain Utes).
© Donald Healy 2008
The flag representing these Northern Ute bands is faithful to their history and their Creation story. Ferdanan Manning, Jr. designed it in 1980; it was formally adopted by tribal council resolution. Northern Ute graphic artist Robert Colorow updated it in 1991 and defined its colors: yellow as "Spanish yellow," orange as "international orange," blue as "blue-bird," and red as "brick red"; all other color references are his.
On a white background, the flag features a centered seal enclosed by a red band with thin black partitions or rays. A dark brown eagle with gold-brown highlights on its outstretched wings dominates the seal. The powerful eagle is the messenger of the Creator in Ute mythology, protectively enclosing within its wingspan the Northern Utes. The three main Ute bands are represented by upper bodies of three figures silhouetted in white against the chest of the eagle. The center figure wears a neckerchief, faintly outlined in black; the others wear a feather on the back of the head.
The eagle's wings span a blue sky and a yellow sun, edged in black, shining over the Ute lands below, just as Sinawaf, the Creator, placed the Ute high in the mountains to be closer to him. The yellow legs of the eagle-tipped by black talons with white accents-grasp a peace pipe with red bowl and stem and an amber midsection with spice-brown oval end-sections. From a black arc that connects the end-sections hang twelve feathers, symbolizing the twelve original Ute bands. At the top, the feathers are separated by a five-sided design composed of a upper rectangular orange section and an irregular yellow pentagonal lower section. The top half of each feather is white and is separated from the black bottom half by two bands: the top orange, the bottom red. Every feather is split down the middle by a black-edged white rachis (shaft).
Above the peace pipe is a typical Ute decorative design: two black triangles with a black-edged yellow border enclose a blue middle portion, in the center appears a black diamond with a black-edged yellow border; on either side of the central diamond are two slightly elongated diamonds, the upper portion is orange and the bottom is rust brown.
The lower half of the seal is white. A dark brown elk-skin tepee, just inside the eagle's wing on the left, has black framework pole, dark brown ventilation and entrance flaps. Dominating the white background on either side of the central silhouettes stand two mountain peaks outlined in brown, symbolizing the "Peak to Peak to Peak" definition of the original Uintah Valley reservation boundaries.
[Thanks to Mr. Larry Cesspooch, Director of Public Relations for the Northern Ute at the Fort Duchesne tribal headquarters, for supplying documentation on the history, legends, and flag of his Nation.]
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 1 February 2008