Monday, June 12, 2017

Montrose, CO (6/4 & 6/10/2017)

Although I'm not traveling right now, I do want to share with you some of my recent activities in and around Montrose. 

On a lovely Sunday afternoon, I drove to Black Canyon National Park to visit a friend who happens to be the campground host there this summer.  Hearing reports of bear activity, particularly in the bottom of the canyon by the Gunnison River, I went down to see what I could find.  The river was raging with all the snowmelt, and the wild lupines were blooming nicely.  After a thorough search to no avail, I started the steep drive out of the canyon.  Along the way, I encountered several grouse, including my first sighting of a male dusky grouse strutting to impress a cutie.  This is a sight that not everyone gets to see, so I decided to show you some of the photos I got.

This is the object of his affection, a shy little lady enthralled by his performance.
On June 10, I attended the grand re-opening of the local Ute Indian Museum.  This facility, one of eight state-wide managed by the non-profit organization History Colorado, has been closed for nearly two years for renovation and expansion.  The celebration was attended by people from all over Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.  Of course, the three tribes of Utes participated in planning the new museum and the opening ceremonies.  Many tribe members wore ceremonial costumes, played traditional music and performed tribal dances.  Even a few palefaces took part in the dancing.

Musical instruments
The museum uses artwork and actual artifacts to convey the history, culture and traditions of the Ute tribes.  Chief Ouray, long considered to have been primarily responsible for establishing peace with early settlers, and his wife Chipeta have been honored in many ways.  A county and a town are named for him, while she is actually buried on the grounds of the museum, located on a road named for her.

The art displayed is truly impressive, not to mention the various crafts associated with the clothing, tools and housing for tribe members.

As can be seen, the Utes were/are masters of tanning animal hides, bead work and  various art forms.  However, they are also noted for their superior horsemanship, going back to around 1640 when they were the first tribe to acquire horses.  It started when a small band of Utes were captured by the Spanish and later escaped, bringing Spanish horses with them.  They gained a great advantage for hunting, and in battle with their adversaries, by training their horses to excel in the rocky, mountainous terrain in which they lived.  They still consider the horse to be a sacred animal.

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