The Utes called this valley "Tavi-we-a-gat" or Big Valley. They came here following in the footsteps of their ancestors along this Camino; their dogs pulled their belongings along the now paved byway. This fertile valley provided hunting grounds rich in buffalo, elk, mule deer, fish and plants.
The Utes of Colorado, lived in semi-isolation among the San Luis Valley's most spectacular scenery, until Spanish explorers entered the valley in 1598. The Utes encountered the Spaniards riding the "Magic Dog", or horse.
Possession of horses opened new territories and hunting grounds for the Utes to explore. Ute warriors rode with great skill, arousing fear in their opponents. Good horsemanship allowed the Utes to defend their hunting grounds from intruders. In fact, no permanent settlements were made in the San Luis Valley between 1598 and 1851. With the aid of the horse, the Utes resisted European conquest until the eve of the twentieth century.
"We believe that all living things have a spirit or soul and should be respected like people of the universe. Only when necessary were plants harvested and animals kiled. Animals, too, went to the Happy Hunting Ground."
People of the Shining Mountains
"The Utes of Colorado"
(Upper Left Photo Caption)
The Utes, who hunted with bow and steel-tipped arrows, were descendants of early Shoshonean people.
(Upper Right Photo Caption)
Ute petroglyphs in the area depic figures on the "magic dog" or horse.
(Lower Left Photo Caption)
When the Spanish arrived here, they found a valley floor covered with numerous wetlands and swamps. They called this place "la ci?nega de San Luis", the marsh of the San Luis Valley.
(Lower Right Photo Caption)
The wetlands of this valley host an abundance of species, including 20,000 sandhill cranes during spring and fall migrations.