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What does ‘Saguache’ mean?

Letter from John D. Krugman

NomeNclature – November 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Editor:

We would like to ask for your correction of an error noted in your July issue, No. 17. On page 21 in the article entitled “The Pass Between the Rockies” by Ed Quillen, it states, in part, “Saguache, for instance, is green place.”

Based on extensive documentation, the name Saguache is a shortened form of the Native American word “Saguaguachipa.” This word, which is generally associated with Ute origins in the San Luis Valley, signifies “Blue earth — water at the blue earth.” The Ute encampments were common around the location of the present-day community, and the name refered to certain springs in which blue earth was said to be found to the north.

The Colorado State Historical Society notes on a community monument: Saguache, “the name derived from the Indian word `Blue Water.'”

Reference to this can be found in the book Frontier Eyewitness, Diary of John Lawrence, 1867-1908, by Bernice Martin, published by the San Luis Valley Historian. The book, Utes, the Mountain People by Jan Pettit published in 1990 also substantiates this defnition.

Your acknowledgement on behalf of our community, county, and your readers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


James D. Krugman

District Ranger

From the Editors: The Ute Dictionary, published in 1977 by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Ignacio, Colo., defines “sagwa-ci” [diacritical marks omitted] as “‘Saguache’, lit. ‘green place’; name of a town in the San Luis Valley in So. Colorado …”