Before Escalante: an early history of the Yuta Indians and the area north of New Mexico

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department History
Author Tyler, S; Lyman
Title Before Escalante: an early history of the Yuta Indians and the area north of New Mexico
Date 1951
Description It has been the custom to begin the documentary study of the history of the present Utah area, and of the Yuta Indians, -with the diary of Father Escalante, who, with Dominguez leading the party, entered the Yuta domain and the boundaries of the present state of Utah in 1776. The area may have been referred to as early as the 1540's as the land and lake of Copala, the mythical home of the Mexican Indians. Later it was known to the Spanish as El Gran Teguayo, a legendary kingdom that rivalled the fabled Quivira in its purported wealth and population. The Yutas may have been encountered by the Coronado expedition on the buffalo plains and called Querechos. A form of the word Yuta was probably first recorded by the Franciscan missionary Ger6nimo de Onate Salmeron who wrote it down as it sounded coming from the lips of the Indians of Jemez Pueblo in the 1620's. Some of the forms of the name that he recorded are Gawuptuh, Guaputa, and Qusutas, which apparently meant "mountain people who live in straw, or brush huts."1 Zarate Salmer6n also used the word Yuta, and later Spanish chroniclers followed his example. The Pai that is used as a prefix to differentiate between the eastern and western Ute peoples evidently came to the Spanish through the Havasupai, Walapai, or Yavapai, of Yuman stock, and means "people." Probably, being asked by the Spanish who the nation was across the Colorado River from them, these Indians answered "Payuchis," or Ute people. During the Spanish period the characteristics of these Payuchis, north of Moqui and the land of the Navahos, appear to have been more similar to the eastern TJte than to the Yutas that Esoalante later called "Yutas Cobardes." From its usage by the Spanish in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the word Yuta might be more closely related to our modern term Shoshonean than to the word Ute in its present connotation. The Spanish called all who spoke a Yuta dialect, the Yuta Nations. Hence, the Chemehuevi, Southern Paiute, and Ute were all Yutas then as today they are all classified as Shoshonean. It is difficult to determine whether a particular group of Indians referred to in the early Spanish documents were ancestors of the present Ute, Southern Paiute, or Chemehuevi. The Spanish had contact with Yutas in the area occupied by each of the tribes mentioned above, but they did not then see enough contrast in their way of life to differentiate between these groups. This was not possible until the Garces-Esealante period. Indian cultures were dynamic, as our modern cultures are, and not static. To place certain bands in a particular classification marked Ute, Southern Paiute, Chemehuevi, etc., by using the information given by Garces, Escalante, Powell, or the early Mormons, and then to attempt to apply that classification to a period of time other than that in which the observations were made, is to ignore the fact that Indian cultures were constantly being adapted to ever-changing conditions. Escalante's Yutas Cobardes may have been a very different kind of Indian at the time of Onate, or Zarate Salmeron. In the way of identifying the Yutas of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century with present classifications of Ute peoples, I can only say that the Yutas described by these early Spanish chroniclers could be compared best with the Indians we know today as Utes. When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico the Yutas were found in the territory stretching from Pecos, where they traded the products of the plains to the Pueblo Indians, hence westward, north of New Mexico, to the area west of the Colorado River in Arizona where the ancestors of the Chemehuevi were located. Beginning about 1650 the Apaches began to encroach upon Yuta territory. By 1700 they were located in the Sierra Blancas north of Taos and at La Jicarilla and El Cuartelejo northeast of New Mexico. The Yutas and Comanches, in alliance from about 1700 to 1748, succeeded in dislodging the Apaches and driving them south and west. About 1748 a Comanche alliance with the Pawnees and French, giving the Comanches access to French guns, so strengthened them that they were able to gain the upper hand over their previous Yuta allies in the area northeast of New Mexico. The Yutas and Comanches were bitter enemies from about 1749 to the 1780's when Anza succeeded in forming a system of alliances that resulted in a renewal of their friendship. After this the Yutas enjoyed their old freedom in the area northeast of New Mexico and the Comanches moved south, again displacing the Apaches and forcing them into the desert regions of southern New Mexico, Mexico, and Arizona.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Ute Indians; Shoshonean Indians; Indians of North America
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name PhD
Language eng
Relation is Version of Digital reproduction of "Before Escalante: an early history of the Yuta Indians and the area north of New Mexico" J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections, E 13.6 1951 T9
Rights Management ©S. Lyman Tyler
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 12,119,867 bytes
Identifier us-etd2,136659
Source Original: University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections
Conversion Specifications Original scanned on Kirtas 2400 and saved as 400 ppi 8 bit grayscale jpeg. Display image generated in Kirtas Technologies' OCR Manager as multiple page pdf, and uploaded into CONTENT dm.
ARK ark:/87278/s62r4689
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2012-04-23
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 193847
Reference URL
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