Obama: Return the Uncompahgre lands to the Ute Indian Tribe

mari - Posted on 21 January 2011

Ronald Yellowbird


Over one hundred years has passed from the time that ten infantry and cavalry companies with 200 rounds of ammunition each, and three days of cooked rations, under the command of Mackenzie, were standing ready. To the Uncompahgre Nation he said “If you have not moved by nine o’clock tomorrow morning I will be at your camp and make you move”

     Captain James Parker reports, “The next morning, shortly after sunrise, we saw a thrilling and pitiful sight, the whole Ute nation on horseback and on foot streaming by. As they passed our camps their gait broke into a run. Sheep were abandoned, blankets and personal possessions strewn along the road, woman and children were loudly wailing. And so we marched behind the Indians, pushing them out, he (Mackenzie) sent word to all the surrounding whites, who hurried after us taking up the land...” “As we pushed the Indians onward we permitted the whites to follow and in three days the rich lands of the Uncompahgre were all occupied...”

     Moved by force onto the Uncompahgre Reservation a vast waste land of 2.9 million acres in Eastern Utah, driven out at the point of a rifle, by an Extermination Order issued by Governor Pitkin “ ...It is impossible for the Indians and whites to live in peace… unless removed by the government they must necessarily be exterminated...”

      Leave Colorado or die was life for Utes in 1881. Moved in September onto the Uncompahgre Reservation a severe winter followed, killing almost half of the Uncompahgre, The other half bitterly set out to defend this place. Never forgetting the lies told to Ouray, the promises of the Brunot Agreement broken, forgotten, all of the lies, and then the theft of all their land, finally exiled into the desert of Utah.

      They determined to defend it against the encroachment that began almost immediately, when mining interests, cattle and sheep owners, began a process of trying to take what the Government had given to the Utes, by Executive Order signed into law by Chester A. Arthur on 4th of March 1882.                                         

    This began a series of events that all American citizens should hang their head in disgust with. The theft, deceit, fraud, dishonest reports and testimony, and cold blooded murder are all a part of a story whose time has come and is well worth telling and listening to. There is truth and finally it is becoming known to us all.

      So many of the gilsonite and oil deals were done under the shroud of secrecy. The systematic removal of the majority of Uncompahgre to the Uintah Reservation occurred.  Government sanctioned theft, taking of millions of tons of minerals, billions of barrels of oil and scars left that crisscross the land. The State of Utah is reaping the financial benefits, without any regard for the Utes.  This is a fragile land with a delicate balance of water, heat and drought, deep snows, and torrential rains.

     Now, one hundred years later we carry the scars of our families torn apart by the trails of disaster left in the wake of this wanton destruction and near annihilation of our people. We have weathered the long winters of our defeat. We have suffered, we have survived. Now it is time to find the truth and regain what has been lost, what has been stolen that is still ours.

     We see the past in the light of day, looking at all of the incidents, uncovering all of the lies and deceit that has not only lain on the land but on our hearts and minds as well.

      We take these steps, hesitant at first and stronger with every step to regain not only the control of the lands and the right to use that land in a way that we see fit, but also to remember ourselves one hundred years ago We look to the future and see ourselves able to hold our own and take care of our land. We are the greatest Environmentalists the ones that know that within the folds of earth on the Uncompahgre Reservation lay not just oil and gas and the means to secure to us our economic future, but also our loved ones.

     We come together as a people with wounds to heal and strength to gather to bind us up and build a nation.

      We come together carrying the wounds that are handed down by those that lost their lives unnecessarily.

       We come together to ask the one man that can make a difference, the one man that can return our land to us, the one man that can listen to our request. We ask him simply to use all of his power, and all of his great mind and will, to rid our land of the lies that bind it from us, to make things right to end the theft and to return the land to us for our use and control. That man is President Obama. We ask that he return a land that is scared, as are we. To return our land that has been taken by theft and deception and lies and then to lie no more.

     We are not asking for a second chance or a hand out we are asking for what is ours by birthright, the land that is in our blood that is rightfully ours.

     All of us can sign this petition, every one, whether we live here or not.


To sign the online petition go to:



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