A Cold Shoulder for Chipeta

By Wayne Iverson

Southern Chaffee County boasts a fabulous view of three mountains in the Sawatch Range named for a Ute (Nuche) Indian family – Mount Ouray, Chipeta Mountain and Pahlone Peak. Indians don’t typically name mountains after themselves, so my guess is that some “white guilt” went into that honor – like a developer who names streets after the trees cut down to build a subdivision. But there is another problem – perhaps an error on the part of the applicant or the U.S. Geologic Survey Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Mount Ouray and Pahlone Peak are named for the highest point on their respective mountains, but Chipeta Mountain is named for the second highest point on its massif and is actually out of plain sight. Thus an effort to commemorate an important woman ends up coming across as more of an insult. So perhaps a campaign to move the name “Chipeta Mountain” from the 12,850-foot sub peak to the 13,472-foot highpoint is in order. 

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Native Peaks

By Mike Rosso

The Ute Indian tribes are the oldest continuous residents of Colorado. The earliest Utes are said to have populated the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and were hunters and gatherers.

Before the Europeans arrived, the Ute (which means “land of the sun”) were composed of seven bands; the Mouache, Weeminuche, Uintah, Yampa, Parianuc, Tabeguache and Capote. The latter were dwellers of the San Luis Valley and Northern New Mexico. The Tabeguache lived in the Gunnison and Uncompahgre River Valleys. These diverse bands now make up the present day Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Northern Ute Tribes.

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