The Age of Kali (Modernity) distilled down

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Devotee (4): Disturbance? (mother and baby leave)
Prabhupada: So we have discussed the symptoms of Kali-yuga, this age called Kali-yuga. As there are seasonal changes, similarly, in the duration of this material existence, there are seasonal changes. That everyone has got experience. There is summer, there is winter, there is fall, there is spring. So generally the seasonal changes are accepted as Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga. Just like in each year we have got different seasons, changes, similarly, each millennium there are so many changes of Kali-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, Satya-yuga.
So Satya-yuga means the age of truthfulness. Satya means truthfulness. And Kali-yuga means the age of disagreement, the age of disagreement. So at the present moment we are in the Kali-yuga. Everyone disagrees with the other. Even the so-called disciple also disagrees with the spiritual master. This is the influence of Kali-yuga. One becomes disciple of a spiritual master, then he whimsically disagrees. So why, if you disagree, why should you accept somebody as spiritual master? That is not very good. That is the way of not being successful. We are chanting every day that yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah . By satisfying the spiritual master, one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yasya prasadat, “by the satisfaction of the spiritual master.” Samsara-davanala-lidha-loka-tranaya karunya-ghanaghanatvam . One of the symptom is this, that spiritual master is so bona fide. Before accepting somebody as spiritual master you must know about his bona fides. That time is allowed. It is said in the sastra that if you like to accept somebody as spiritual master, you should associate with him at least for one year, see how things are going. If you follow of course others, that is also good. But personally, it is advised that you just remain with the proposed spiritual master for at least one year, so that the spiritual master is also given chance to study you, whether you are acceptable. This is the process.
But when one leaves a spiritual master, the spiritual master, there may be some reason. That reason is also given in the sastra, gurur api avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah(?). Karya akarya. If the spiritual master does not know what is actually to be done, what is actually not to be done, and he acts against the rules and regulations of the sastra, then such spiritual master may be given up. But so long you do not find the spiritual master is doing against the principles of sastra or guru, then if you give up the company of spiritual master, that is not good for you. That is your downfall. First of all, you must take sufficient time to study the movements of a spiritual master. Spiritual master is one — the spiritual master. Because there may be many spiritual master, but if their business is one — to satisfy Krsna — although they’re many, they’re one. Although they’re many, they are still one. The principle is one: to satisfy Krsna. Such is the position of spiritual master, that yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: if you try to please your spiritual master, then God, Krsna, becomes pleased. That is natural.
So in the Kali-yuga why there should be… In Kali-yuga even with the spiritual master there is disagreement. That is due to influence of Kali. That is my point. So this influence of Kali-yuga has been discussed in so many pages in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Last it was discussed that the good qualification of Kali, of human being… Human being, I am speaking, because amongst the living entities, human being is considered to be the highest. So the mother earth was lamenting that people have lost their good qualification. They cannot be lost, but it is, by the influence of Kali-yuga, it is now covered. Satyam, saucam, daya, that twenty-six nice qualifications. We have discussed all these things. Here (reads):
satyam saucam daya ksantis
tyagah santosa arjavam
samo damas tapah samyam
titiksoparatih srutam
jnanam viraktir aisvaryam
sauryam tejo balam smrtih
svatantryam kausalam kantir
dhairyam mardavam eva ca
So, on account of this Kali-yuga, the good qualification of human society will be lost. Thinking this future of the present age, Mother Earth was lamenting and talking with Dharmaraja. At that time Maharaja Yudhisthira, er, Maharaja Pariksit arrived on that spot. This is the verse.
Tayor evam kathayatoh: while the Dharmaraja and the earthly planet was talking between themselves, prthivi… Prthivi. Tayor evam kathayatoh, prthivi, the earthly planet and dharmayos tada. Tada: “that time,” pariksin nama rajarsih. Pariksin nama rajarsih. There were many rajarsis. Rajarsi means although they’re occupying the royal position… Raja. Raja and praja. Raja means king or the ruler. Here is also regulative principle. Why a king is accepted? Why a governor is accepted? Why a president is…? Even in this day of democracy — we have abolished the system of monarchy — but still, they select somebody to become a monarch, a king, or to occupy the post of the king. That is called president. Why? Because unless there is one head, or on the head of the government, who can actually control… Control means whether citizens are following, executing the rules and regulation, the law of the state. Therefore a certain man, qualified man, who is, who enjoys the confidence of the people, he is accepted as the king. This is the position. So such president, king, or the executive head, must be a saintly person. Therefore here it is said, pariksin nama rajarsih. Rajarsi means those who are on the top of the government, he must be rsi, saintly person. Just like this, our Krsna consciousness movement, the head of the institution must be a saintly person. Otherwise how he can become a controller? Controller there must be. That what is the qualification of the controller? He must be a saintly person. He must know what is the principle of life, what is the value of life, why one should be controlled by somebody else. These things are required to become qualified.
So Maharaja Pariksit, pariksin nama rajarsih. In those days all the kings were like saintly person. They are not ordinary person. Why saintly person required? Because saintly person means he knows what is actually good and what is not good. The actually good of human life is that he’s engaged in developing devotional service. That is actually good. In another place of this Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. Paro dharmah. Para means superior, transcendental, or which is para and apara. Para and apara. These words are used. Para means greater and apara means lower, and para means superior and apara means inferior. Here it is spoken, “There are many types of religious systems, but they are apara, not very good, inferior, inferior type.” Religion cannot be inferior, but it is sometimes made into inferiority because without such kind inferior type of religion, the inferior class of men will not accept it, will not accept it.
Just like in religious system, in any religious system, the killing of animal there is. In every religious system, there is. But why there is this killing of a living entity? It is not good. But why in the religious system there is permission for killing animal? So that is explained. The explanation is, that a person who is a staunch meat-eater, he cannot give up meat-eating, so… At the same time he wants to be religious. This is the position. For such person it is enjoined, just like in Vedic system, “All right, if you want to eat meat, at the same time you want to become religious, then you worship Goddess Kali. You cannot worship Visnu.” Because he’s a meat-eater he cannot approach pavitram paramam bhavan. The Supreme Personality is the supreme pure. So this meat-eater is impure. He cannot approach the pure. That is not possible. Therefore he is advised to approach some agent of the pure, some sakti, or just like Goddess Kali. Goddess Kali is the sakti or the agent, potency. She has got also business: to cut the heads of the demons. You have seen the Goddess Kali’s picture, munda-mala. She’s garlanded with the heads of the demons

posted in: Kali Yuga

Why I started smoking, Part I (the path of the fatuous loon)

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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I went off the deep end
Others remained at shore
I may fail to transcend
But I will not remain a bore

What separates the sane from the insane? The prevailing ethos in America says that there is a chemical imbalance in individual’s brain that renders them to appear to others as fatuous loons. Sadly, really, there seems very little factual documentation on what chemical components separates a person from his/her sanity. The way that antidepressants and the ilk prescribed by psychiatrists come to the conclusion that since, for example, a group of depressed peoples’ have lowered amounts of serotonin on the spinal fluid, that a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor will cure the problem. This invariably does alleviate short term depression, but does not actually cure the disease as a whole. Many a case sees the individual toward ever increasing prescriptions that further increase serotonin activity, or even doing the reversal and disinclining the serotonin towards breaking the blood-brain barrier. Serotonin production does try to regulate itself in humans though so combatting this innate procedure creates a perpetual battle (increasing or decreasing depending on the case) that doctors cannot seem to regulate at this moment.

This psychiatric scientific model does seem rather conjectural for me, but if things work better for some than they did for (perhaps myopic) self, then have at them. What this series of articles explaining myself shall try to come to a conclusion on what made me, at least in my mind, and from what I have gathered upon the perception of others, seem more together in the mental faculties than those that were exhibited the years prior.
After a month long stay in two different mental hospitals, the last diagnosis was Bipolar I with psychotic features. Anyone that has been put into a mental hospital outside of their own volition because of bipolar tendencies invariably gets diagnosed with the Bipolar I distinction over the less innocuous Bipolar II or cyclothymia (that Stephen Fry admits to having). I will not deny the diagnosis was not without reason. Nor will I say that I have fully recovered. I probably was and still am under this distinction. Without proper care and understanding of the underlining symptoms, I fall privy to all its misgivings. Life seems a continual battle of discipline versus affliction.
So what got me there and how do I perceive myself a year removed from the “worst” of it? Before the point of loony bin incarceration, I really felt that sleep was optional. Not that I suffered from insomnia, just that I felt so ALIVE awake that sleep felt like something that only a mental weakling had to succumb to. Five months of staying awake routinely for 40+ hours, then crashing for 12-18 hours became the norm. Note, don’t try this at home.
It should also be noted that with my lack of social acumen towards dealing with other people (every test regarding introvert vs. extrovert seems to put me exactly at 100% introvert) fostered by this silly notion that I could gamble for my livelihood, I set my own hours. So one day bled into the next, waking up in my car or in some hotel somewhere then immediately spending the next forty hours holed up in some casino. Oh yes, did I mention that I thought it would be prudent to save on monthly housing by sleeping in my car/hotel? Do not try that on the backseat of your car.

But, I did do sort of well financially given the time structure that I was involved in along with the sample size of how many poker hands I was dealt given the period. At some point though, after traveling along the thoroughfare of Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Delaware, I wanted a break. Off toward North Carolina I headed with its new WSOP (World Series of Poker) circuit event in Cherokee, North Carolina. If I had it over again, I wish I would have just played poker there all day and all night. The action was so unbelievably soft, as they call it in poker terms (aka supremely easy), that I cannot believe I just did not salivate with the greed of an avarice lover. Alas though, I did not participate in much poker action. I had other ideas of what made my life meaningful, mainly megalomaniac delusion.
I believed I was the poet laureate for this generation. Mania has a way to do that to a person. Delusions somehow become manifested into reality even when the vast majority of encounters with people furrows into their brow a questioning countenance or a tone questioning if your own mental faculties have not deteriorated beyond repair. Flat out garble-dee-goo indecipherable drivel I put out. But at the time I thought, THIS IS BRILLIANCE REINCARNATE!!! It would not have been so humiliating if I only had thought, well, lets put this down for only my own eyes for later revival. I had to put this down for every person I have ever met to know how superior my poetic triumph was compared to their meaningless disposition towards life! You might want to look up the meaning of megalomaniac if you do not know what it means already.
After a few weeks of living the life of very little sleep, prodigal poet of drivel, I just felt the need to stop gambling. Despite the fact that it is really the only thing I know how to procure income for myself, I just decided to travel instead. Take a hiatus from the “working” world. Did I mention that I have never really had a full time job working for other people?

Then for the next month, the audio decibels cranked to the maximum in my traveling side show of insanity with Billy Joel Stranger album, Red Hot Chili Peppers “What Hits?” and The Band Greatest Hits, I hit the road to destination unknown. East, west, north, south, I had no previous conception of where I would go. Other than I had to be in California for my brother’s wedding in about a month and a half.

I cannot recall how many reiterations of “Fight Like a Brave” by Red Hot Chili Peppers I heard in that month, but that was by far the predominant mantra of the season. “Fight like a brave, don’t be a slave, no one can tell you that you got to be afraid!” If there was ever one song to repeat towards a bipolar maniac like me that wanted to foster complete insanity, I cannot tell you what else to listen to. Not only did I think my poetry was revolutionary idiom, now my behavior as a whole encapsulated the guiding beliefs that everyone shall be encumbered with because of my brief encounter. You see this guy act just like him or FAIL AT LIFE!

South Carolina came first on the places to visit after a two week hiatus in North Carolina. What I recall of North Carolina was the weather being absolutely splendid mostly spent either walking around or sitting down on a bench chain smoking cigarettes and writing line after line of horrendous tripe.

This should probably be an interlude on why I started smoking tobacco. The vast majority of people get addicted to it before the age of 18. It took me till 23 to start. It was after a weeknight rendezvous at a strip club in Tempe, AZ. I solicited the services for a “private” dance with one of the ladies of the finer sex. Then for some reason that I truly cannot recall how it ever got to that point (thanks Alcohol), the stripper had her legs wrapped around me, with another stripper beside her, while I have my knees and hands on the ground. With the paddle in the stripper’s hand pounding on my ass I whinnied like the inner donkey that I never let get out while playing poker. I was not aroused by this really, I just thought it was funny for some reason.

After ending that little session of what most would think to be quite humiliating, I walked back to my rental property. Outside of the stripper establishment, the two strippers were outside smoking. They then quibbled something in jest that I cannot recall exactly, but I could smell the contempt vapors even through the smoke. I walked back a few miles feeling rather glum about life. Even my jokes about the meaningless of life where I was the clown did not impart a jovial attitude towards life.

Sometime that morning I decided, before I kill myself, I should at least try all the drugs first. So off I went to the convenience store. I asked to get a pack of Marlboro and the clerk asked which kind. Naive in this regard, I thought like a bull and chose the red pack. Perhaps I should have read up on some smarter animals than donkeys and bulls right?
Continued soon…

posted in: Self Shit Post


posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Goal: Write my autobiography.
Difficulty: 4.8 out of 5.
Reasons: I am quite ashamed of many years and aspects of my life.
Real goal: Disclose all my adult life. Even all my shameful conduct.
Sidenote: Poker will not be the difficult aspect (as it has always been in my life).
My name is Wesley Ismay. I have played poker as a way to procure income for the last thirteen years of my life. There have been years, for what I consider, of great financial success over that period. Over the last nine months, I have made over six figures playing poker in the US. Two of the past 13 years I made over 200k+. Four of those 13 years though I made less than $10k which later I will get into (hopefully). The other years I meander around wondering why. Not only at my the life I lead, but at life in general. Sometimes I think I can bet where life will go, other times I don’t even think life has odds on where it could lead.
There have been hardships along the way. None of these I conclude include financial difficulties . I have never considered myself poor as an adult. I remember fondly the time that I filed an IRS tax return for 10x* what my parents made combined at any year in which I grew up previously. For I grew up western South Dakota which in of itself is a desolated area in regards to humanity. And even in that region I grew up in a sparsely populated area. I grew up in a town of 50, I was bused into school where the population was 150. I remember fondly the times when my parents would come back from Burger King from Sturgis (~25 miles away) to bring home something for me and my brother as a special treat. Fast food restaurants then was seen not as many see it as today in America as a last resort, but as THE luxury. The Whopper was not only a great marketing tool, but a huge whopping big deal to me and my brother.
My father grew up either as a farm hand whereby he could fulfill any job that the ranchers nearby would need doing or as his self-proclaimed business”Vale Leather and Upholstery” whereby he would fix any aberations the locals needed revivified/repurposed.

These job choices of my father were not a lucrative career nor even one that could pay the bills. My father declared bankruptcy upon a $50,000 credit card bill that he accrued when I was around nine. This bankruptcy seemed odd in that the paltry house and trailer house in which we lived in was paid for. I suppose $5k here and there every year over a ten year period, without the modest luxuries, can happen to anyone.
There was a time when I remember depositing $50 that I did not have onto Party Poker around 2005 when I was 18 to try to play a $30 MTT. I was allowed to deposit whereupon I quickly lost the money and had to face my father’s scolding. I overcharged without any plan as to what would happen if I lost. I got bailed out, although not this time from jail.
I still play poker for a living which seems odd. In that if I told myself fifteen years ago that I would have been able to do this, I would have been incredulous to the point of stupification.
Actually, that would be an understatement as to what and where I am today. Ten years ago, I was at the peak of resignation of where I was. I had just been at the pinnacle of my existence. Three straight months of $50k+ months, travel throughout North America and a trip to Ireland, that would have been far beyond my wildest dreams growing up in the middle of nowhere South Dakota.
Now, a little wiser. A bit more chronologically older, although I feel more grateful that today at the age of 31 I feel revivified as the curious specter on my purview has increased exponentially. That could be due to the massive caffeine or that three year undertaking (with a two month break) of doing a powerlifting base alongside a daily walking routine.

posted in: Self Shit Post

Germany A Modern History by Marshall Dill, Jr. Excerpts

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Germany is a country of the middle. She has been conditioned by her proximity to the Slavic eas, the Latin south, and the Gallic West.

The major river systems which water it have served more often as avenues of communication than as barriers. Personal note: easy trade cultures & cultivates thought

6 important rivers: The Rhine



The Bructeri (Greek Βρούκτεροι; but Βουσάκτεροι in Strabo) were a Germanic tribe in Roman imperial times, located in northwestern Germany, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia. Their territory included both sides of the upper Ems (Latin Amisia) and Lippe (Latin Luppia) rivers. At its greatest extent, their territory apparently stretched between the vicinities of the Rhine in the west and the Teutoburg Forest and Weser river in the east. In late Roman times they moved south to settle upon the east bank of the Rhine facing Cologne, an area later known as the kingdom of the Ripuarian Franks.

Weser River




and Vistula.

posted in: Uncategorized

Glendalough Round Tower Ireland

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Through intricate motions ran
Stream and gliding sun
And all my heart seemed gay:
Some stupid thing that I had done
Made my attention stray.

Repentance keeps my heart impure;
But what am I that dare
Fancy that I can
Better conduct myself or have more
Sense than a common man?

What motion of the sun or stream
Or eyelid shot the gleam
That pierced my body through?
What made me live like these that seem
Self-born, born anew?

Stream and Sun at Glendalough – William Butler Yeats

posted in: Irish Round Tower

Alexander Pope An Essay on Criticism Excerpts

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever Nature has in worth denied,
She gives in large recruits of needful pride;
For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, swell’d with wind;
Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of sense!
If once right reason drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless day;
Trust not yourself; but your defects to know,
Make use of ev’ry friend—and ev’ry foe.

A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ,
Survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find,
Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen’rous pleasure to be charm’d with wit.

In ev’ry work regard the writer’s end,
Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means be just, the conduct true,
Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit,
T’ avoid great errors, must the less commit:
Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays,
For not to know such trifles, is a praise.
Most critics, fond of some subservient art,
Still make the whole depend upon a part:
They talk of principles, but notions prize,
And all to one lov’d folly sacrifice.

Thus critics, of less judgment than caprice,
Curious not knowing, not exact but nice,
Form short ideas; and offend in arts
(As most in manners) by a love to parts.

False eloquence, like the prismatic glass,
Its gaudy colours spreads on ev’ry place;
The face of Nature we no more survey,
All glares alike, without distinction gay:
But true expression, like th’ unchanging sun,
Clears, and improves whate’er it shines upon,
It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
Expression is the dress of thought, and still
Appears more decent, as more suitable;
A vile conceit in pompous words express’d,
Is like a clown in regal purple dress’d:

And but so mimic ancient wits at best,
As apes our grandsires, in their doublets dress’d.
In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold;
Alike fantastic, if too new, or old;
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Not yet the last to lay the old aside.

Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such,
Who still are pleas’d too little or too much.
At ev’ry trifle scorn to take offence,
That always shows great pride, or little sense;
Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best,
Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest.
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move,
For fools admire, but men of sense approve;
As things seem large which we through mists descry,
Dulness is ever apt to magnify.

Some ne’er advance a judgment of their own,
But catch the spreading notion of the town;
They reason and conclude by precedent,
And own stale nonsense which they ne’er invent.
Some judge of authors’ names, not works, and then
Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.

Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes,
And ’tis but just to let ’em live betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When patriarch wits surviv’d a thousand years:
Now length of Fame (our second life) is lost,
And bare threescore is all ev’n that can boast;

But where’s the man, who counsel can bestow,
Still pleas’d to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Unbias’d, or by favour or by spite;
Not dully prepossess’d, nor blindly right;
Though learn’d, well-bred; and though well-bred, sincere;
Modestly bold, and humanly severe?
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
And gladly praise the merit of a foe?
Blest with a taste exact, yet unconfin’d;
A knowledge both of books and human kind;
Gen’rous converse; a soul exempt from pride;
And love to praise, with reason on his side?

posted in: Thinking Book Passages

Utah Native Trees

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Plantnative Utah and Western Colorado


White Fur

Subalpine Fir


Big Tooth Maple


Thinleaf Alder


Water Birch


Desert Willow


River Hawthorne

Singleleaf Ash

Velvet Ash

Utah Juniper

Blue Spruce


Singleleaf Pinyon

Pinyon Pine

Narrowleaf Cottonwood

Fremont Cottonwood


Fremont Popular

Velvet Mesquite

Douglas Fir

Gambel Oak


New Mexico Locust

Ash Shrub
Dwarf Mountain Ash

posted in: Uncategorized

History of the Ute Indian

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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History of the Southern Ute from Southern Ute Indian Tribes

The Ute people are the oldest residents of Colorado, inhabiting the mountains and vast areas of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Eastern Nevada, Northern New Mexico and Arizona. According to tribal history handed down from generation to generation, our people lived here since the beginning of time.

Prior to acquiring the horse, the Utes lived off the land establishing a unique relationship with the ecosystem. They would travel and camp in familiar sites and use well established routes such as the Ute Trail that can still be seen in the forests of the Grand Mesa, and the forerunner of the scenic highway traversing through South Park, and Cascade, Colorado.

Ute Teepee | Library of Congress
Ute Teepee | Library of Congress

The language of the Utes is Shoshonean, a dialect of that Uto-Aztecan language. It is believed that the people who speak Shoshonean separated from other Ute-Aztecan speaking groups, such as the Paiute, Goshute, Shoshone Bannock, Comanche, Chemehuevi and some tribes in California. The Utes were a large tribe occupying the great basin area, encompassing the Numic speaking territories of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Eastern California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Northern Arizona and New Mexico.

Tribes living in this area, ancestors of the Utes were the Uto-Aztecs, who spoke one common language; they possessed a set of central values, and had a highly developed society. Traits commonly attributed to people possessing a civilization. The Ute civilization spoke the same language, shared values, observed the same social and political practices, in addition to inhabiting and holding a set territory.

The Utes settled around the lake areas of Utah, some of which became the Paiute, other groups spread north and east and separated into the Shoshone and Comanche people, and some traveled south becoming the Chemehuevi and Kawaiisus. The remaining Ute people became a loose confederation of tribal units called bands. The names of the bands and the areas they lived in before European contact are as follows:

The Mouache band lived on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, from Denver south to Trinidad, Colorado, and further south to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The Caputa band lived east of the Continental Divide, south of the Conejos River and in the San Luis Valley near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. They frequented the region near Chama and Tierra Amarilla. A few family units also lived in the shadow of Chimney Rock, now a designated United States National Monument.

Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock | photo Dana Kopf, Southern Ute MIS Dept.

The Weenuchiu occupied the valley of the San Juan River and its north tributaries in Colorado and Northwestern New Mexico. The Uncompahgre (Tabeguache) were located near the Uncompahgre and Gunnison, and Elk Rivers near Montrose and Grand Junction, Colorado.

The White River Ute (Parianuche and Yamparika) lived in the alleys of the White and Yampa river systems, and in the North and middle park regions of the Colorado Mountains, extending west to Eastern Utah. The Uintah lived east of Utah Lake to the Uinta Basin of the Tavaputs plateau near the Grand and Colorado River systems.

The Pahvant occupied the desert area in the Sevier Lake region and west of the Wasatch Mountains near the Nevada boundary. They inter-married with the Goshute and Paiute in Southern Utah and Nevada. The Timonogots lived in the south and eastern area of Utah Lake, to North Central Utah. The Sanpits (San Pitch) lived in the Sapete Valley, Central Utah and Sevier River Valley. The Moanumts lived in the upper Sapete Valley, Central Utah, in the Otter Creek region of Salum, Utah and Fish Lake area; they also intermarried with the Southern Paiutes. The Sheberetch lived in the area now known as Moab, Utah, and were more desert oriented. The Comumba/Weber band was a very small group and intermarried and joined the Northern and Western Shoshone.

Today, the Mouache and Caputa bands comprise the Southern Ute Tribe and are headquartered at Ignacio, Colorado. The Weenuchiu, now known as the Ute Mountain Utes are headquartered at Towaoc, Colorado. The Tabeguache, Grand, Yampa and Uintah bands comprise the Northern Ute Tribe located on the Uintah-Ouray reservation next to Fort Duchesne, Utah.

As the Utes traveled the vast area of the Great Basin, large bands would breakup into smaller family units that were much more mobile. Camps could be broken down faster making travel from one location to another a more efficient process. Because food gathering was an immense task, the people learned that by alternating hunting and food gathering sites the environment would have time to replenish. The Nuche only took what they required, never over harvesting game or wild plants. These principles were closely adhered to in order for the people to survive.

In early spring and into the late fall, men would hunt for large game such as elk, deer, and antelope; the women would trap smaller game animals in addition to gathering wild plants such as berries and fruits. Wild plants such as the amaranth, wild onion, rice grass, and dandelion supplemented their diet. Some Ute bands specialized in the medicinal properties of plants and became expert in their use, a few bands planted domestic plants.

Before they acquired the horse, the Utes used basic tools and weapons which were made of stone and wood. These tools included digging sticks, weed beaters, baskets, bows and arrows, flint knives, arrow heads, throwing sticks, matates and manos for food preparation. They traded with the Puebloans for pottery to use for food and water storage and transport. They became very skilled at basket weaving, making coiled containers sealed with pitch for water storage. As expert hunters they used all parts of the animal. Elk and deer hides were used for shelter covers, clothing and moccasins. The hides the Utes tanned were prized and a sought after trade item. The Ute women became known for their beautiful quill work, which decorated their buckskin dresses, leggings, moccasins, and cradleboards.

Late in the fall, family units would begin to move out of the mountains into sheltered areas for the cold winter. Generally, the family units of a particular Ute band would live close together. The family units could acquire more fuel for heating and cooking. The increased family units would also allow for a better line of defense form enemy tribes seeking supplies for the harsh winter weather. The Caputa, Mouache and Weenuchiu wintered in northwestern New Mexico; the Tabeguache (Uncompahgre) camped near Montrose and Grand Junction; the Northern Utes would make their winter camps along the White, Green and Colorado Rivers.

Winter was a time of rejuvenation and the Utes would gather around their evening fires visiting and exchanging stories about their travels, social, and religious events. This was a time to reinforce tribal custom, as well as repairing tools, weapons and making new garments for the summer.

The Chiefs would announce plans for major events. A primary event that marked the beginning of spring was the annual Bear Dance. The Bear Dance is still considered a time of rejuvenation by the tribe. It is in essence, the Tribes’ New Year, when Mother Earth begins a new cycle, plants begin to blossom, animals come out of their dens after a long cold winter.

The Bear awakens from his winter’s sleep and celebrates by dancing to welcome the spring. This dance was given to the Ute people by the bear. The Bear Dance is the most ancient dance of the Ute people and continues to be observed by all Ute bands. When many of the various bands gathered for the Bear Dance it allowed relatives to socialize, while at the same time providing an opportunity for the young people to meet and for marriages to be negotiated. On the last day of the Bear Dance, the Sundance Chief would announce dates of the Sundance.

Bear Dance | Denver Public Library
Bear Dance | Denver Public Library

The Ute people lived in harmony with their environment. They traveled throughout Ute territory on familiar trails that crisscrossed the mountain ranges of Colorado. They came to know not only the terrain but the plants and animals that inhabited the lands. The Utes developed a unique relationship with the environment learning to give and take from Mother Earth.

They obtained soap from the root of the yucca plant. The yucca was used to make rope, baskets, shoes, sleeping mats, and a variety of household items. The three leaf sumac and willow were used to weave baskets for food and water storage. They learned how to apply pitch to ensure their containers were water-tight. They made baskets, bows, arrows, other domestic tools, and reinforcements for shade houses.

Chokecherry, wild raspberry, gooseberry, and buffalo berry were gathered and eaten raw. Occasionally juice was extracted to drink and the pulp was made into cakes or added to dried seed meal and eaten as a paste or cooked into a mush. Ute women would use seeds from various flowers or grasses and add them to soup. The three leaf sumac would be used in tea for special events.

The people would harvest roots with a tool called a digging stick. The digging stick was pointed and about three to four feet long. Roots collected were the sego (mariposa) lily, yellow pond lily, yampa or Indian carrot. The amaranth plant was gathered and the seeds were obtained with a tool called a seed beater, similar to winnowing. Amaranth seeds were often eaten raw, the Indian potato (Orogenia linearifolia) and wild onion were used in soups or eaten raw. They could be dried for later use or ground into a flour to make stews thicker. Utes would use earthen ovens to cook food. They would prepare the food items and place them into a four-foot deep hole lined with stones. A fire was built on top of the stones and the food was placed in layers of damp grass and heated rocks. These items would then be covered with dirt to cook over night. The prickly pear cactus was another food source. The flower and fruit were either eaten raw or boiled or roasted.

The inner bark of the tree is very nutritious and was yet another food source for the people. The Utes harvested the inner bark of the ponderosa pine for making healing compresses, tea and for healing. The scarred ponderosa trees are still visible in Colorado forests. The healing trees are evidence of the Utes early presence in the land and their close relationship to their ecosystem.

When the Ute people were forcibly placed reservations they could no longer travel on their familiar trails, to gather or hunt for food. As more and more elders pass they take traditional knowledge about plants and their uses with them. In the past the Ute vocabulary included many words and their uses for plants. Unfortunately, these ancient words have been lost.

A medicinal plant used by the Utes is Bear root (Ligusticum portieri) also commonly known as osha. Bear root grows throughout the Rocky Mountains, in elevations over 7,000 feet. The plant has antibacterial and antiviral powers and continues to be used to treat colds and upper respiratory ailments. It can be chewed or brewed into teas. It can be used topically, in baths, compresses, and ointments to treat indigestion, infections, wounds and arthritis. Some southwest tribes use it before going into the desert areas to deter rattlesnakes. The Utes have a special relationship with the plant and treat it with great respect, harvesting only what they need and always giving prayers before they harvest.

Ute elders knew which plants should be gathered and which plants were dangerous. One has to be very careful when harvesting wild plants as many toxic plants can be mistaken for wild onion or bear root. Poison hemlock (Conium macalatum) appears much the same as the bear root but is dangerous. Peppermint and wild tobacco were collected and used in many important ceremonies.

The routes the Utes established were used by other Native American tribes and Europeans. The Ute Trail became known as the Spanish Trail used by Spanish explorers as early as the fifteenth century when Alvar Nunez Caveza de Vaca (1488-1558) and Juan de Onate (1550-1630) were sent from Spain to explore the uninhabited areas of Texas and New Mexico, claiming vast lands for their Spanish rulers.

During the sixteenth century Spaniards began to colonize New Mexico, establishing their domination wherever possible. As the Spanish advanced northward into Ute territory, the customs, livestock, and language they brought began to influence the Ute’s way of life. These changes were to have far reaching impacts upon the Ute people. Not only did the European bring livestock and tools, they also brought small pox, cholera and other diseases that would decimate the population of the Ute people. The European’s never-ending quest for land was in direct contrast to the Native American’s reverence for Mother Earth. The Utes believed that they didn’t own the land, but that the land owned them. Contact with the European was to end a way of life the people had known for centuries.

Contact between the Southern Utes and the Spanish continued, with trade soon developing. Utes were known for their tanned elk and deer hides which they traded along with dried meat tools and weapons. However, as the Spanish became more aggressive conflicts began to arise. When Santa Fe was established as the northern capital of the Spanish colonists they captured Utes and other Native Americans as slave laborers to work in their fields and homes. Around 1637 Ute captives escaping from the Spanish in Santa Fe fled, taking with them Spanish horses, thus making the Utes one of the first Native American tribes to acquire the horse. (History of the Horse). However, tribal historians tell of the Utes acquiring the horse as early as the 1580s.

Mounted group of Utes | Denver Public Library
Mounted group of Utes | Denver Public Library

Already skilled hunters, the Utes used the horse to become expert big game hunters. They began to roam further away from their home camps to hunt buffalo that migrated over the vast prairies east of their mountain homes, and explore the distant lands.

The Utes began to depend upon the buffalo as a source for much of their items. It took only one buffalo to feed several families, and fewer hides were required to make structures and clothing.

The Utes already had a reputation as defenders of their territories now became even fiercer warriors. Women and children were also fierce and were known to pick up a lance and defend their camps from attacking enemies. Ute men were described by the Spanish as having fine physiques, able to withstand the harsh climate, and live off the land in sharp contrast to the European who often had to depend upon Native Americans and their knowledge about plants, animals and the environment. They became adept raiders preying upon neighboring tribes such as the Apache, Pueblos and Navajo. Items obtained from their raids were used to trade for household items, weapons, horses and captives. Owning horses increased one’s status in the tribe.

Encounters with the Spanish began to occur more frequently, and trade increased to include Spanish items such as metal tools and weapons, cloth, beads and even guns. The bounty collected from raiding expeditions was used to trade for horses, which were considered a valuable commodity. Captives from raids were also used as barter items.

In November 1806 Zebulon Pike entered the eastern boundaries of Ute lands proclaiming one of the Ute’s most sacred sites as “Grand Peak”, now known as Pike’s Peak. Prior to this, Ute territory had not been explored on a large scale because of the rugged terrain and high mountain passes. Europeans began to take notice of the land’s bounty, timber, wildlife and abundant water. What they did not take into account was that the land was already inhabited by the Ute people, who considered the land their home.

As westward expansion increased and eastern tribes were displaced and relocated to barren lands in the west, pioneers began to travel west. Gold and silver were discovered in the San Juan Mountains and the Utes soon found themselves in a losing battle to retain their homelands.

Treaties and Agreements with the Utes
In the 1700s the Ute and Comanche tribes began peace negotiations to ensure peace between two powerful tribal allies that reigned over the southwestern plains, however, peace talks were interrupted and a fifty-year war followed. Peace talks began again and in 1977 the Ute Comanche Peace Treaty was finalized. Representatives of the Comanche Tribe traveled to Ignacio, Colorado to finalize the Ute Comanche Peace Treaty.

On December 30, 1849 a peace treaty was signed between the United States and the Utes at Abiquiu, New Mexico. The treaty forced the Utes to officially recognize the sovereignty of the United Sates and established boundaries between the U.S. and the Ute nation.

In 1863 another treaty was signed at Conejos terminating all Ute claims to mineral rights and lands in the San Luis Valley that had been settled by Europeans.

In 1868 the U.S. government began another treaty to terminate the rights of the Confederated Ute Indians to other lands; however this effort failed as the Utes refused to relinquish their rights to the lands in question. In 1873 the government began new efforts to negotiate for these lands and a new commission was appointed by the Interior in 1873 to enter into negotiations for a new agreement. The Brunot agreement of 1873 was negotiated with the Confederated Utes and the U.S. government, represented by Felix R. Brunot, at the Los Pinos Agency on September 13, 1873. Ute chiefs, headmen and other members of the Tabeguache, Mouache, Caputa, Weenuchiu, Yampa, Grand River and Uintah bands of Ute Indians were present when the Agreement was signed.

The Brunot Treaty was ratified by the United States in 1874, and is most often remembered by Utes as the agreement when their land was fraudulently taken away. The Utes were led to believe that they would be signing an agreement that would allow mining to occur on the lands located only in the San Juan Mountain area, the site of valuable gold and silver ore. About four million acres of land not subject to mining would remain Ute territory under ownership of the tribe. However, they ended up forcibly relinquishing the lands to the U.S. government. Many years later, and after meeting with the State of Colorado, a successful negotiation of a Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 2009. The MOA assured the tribe with hunting and fishing rights in the off-reservation Brunot area, including rare game species. Tribal hunters participate in the hunt with special permits.

In 1895 the Hunter Act was passed opening up the Ute strip to homesteading and sale to non-Indians. The Utes residing on the small strip of reservation land north of the New Mexico state boundary and into the four corners area became divided. The Weenuchiu under the leadership of Chief Ignacio agreed that land could not be owned individually, but instead was owned in commonality by tribe. The Weenuchiu moved westward and settled on a dry arid piece of land now known as Towaoc. The Southern Utes (Mouache and Caputa bands) agreed to take land into ownership under the allotment process. Unfortunately many allotments were either sold to non-Indians or the tribe. Around the 1940s about 300 allotments were owned by Southern Ute Tribal heads of household. This number has dwindled considerably.

Ute Water Rights
As the federal government established sites (reservations) for displaced Native American tribes, the government soon realized they had to have adequate water supplies in order to survive. Without water the red man could not learn how to farm and become a productive member of society, or become totally assimilated into American culture. Although there is an implied water right of Native American tribes on reservations that supersedes water rights of non-Indians, the issue was bitter, and proved to be a long and expensive legal battle.

Lake Nighthorse | Jeremy Wade Shockley, Southern Ute Drum
Lake Nighthorse | Jeremy Wade Shockley, Southern Ute Drum

In 1988 the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act was approved by the United States government. Its primary objective was to supply irrigation, municipal and industrial water to the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes of Colorado from the Animas La Plata water project. The downsized project known as Animas Plata light was completed in 2009 and water filled Nighthorse Reservoir. The 1988 Act resolved water rights claims of the Colorado Ute Tribes to water they considered inherently theirs. The Ute tribes have not yet formulated specific plans concerning their water needs, and there are no federal funds available to construct the pipelines necessary to convey water from Nighthorse Reservoir to either the Ute Mountain Ute or Southern Ute reservations.

Ute Chieftains Memorial
On September 24, 1939, the Ute Chieftains Memorial Monument was dedicated in honor of four Ute Chiefs, Ouray, Buckskin Charley, Severo and Ignacio. The Southern Ute tribe which is comprised of the Caputa and Mouache bands progressed under the auspices of Chief Ouray and Buckskin Charley. Because of the endeavors of these fine leaders a memorial was created that now stands in Ute Park along the Los Pinos River in Ignacio, Colorado.

Ute Chieftains Memorial | Dana Kopf, Southern Ute MIS Dept.
Ute Chieftains Memorial | Dana Kopf, Southern Ute MIS Dept.

The memorial is comprised of red and white stone excavated from the Durango, Colorado area. The monument itself stands eighteen feet tall, it is eight feet square at its base, and is five feet square at the top. Four bronze plaques are set facing each of the four directions. Each plaque is dedicated to a Ute leader.

The bronze plaque honoring Ouray was sponsored by the Durango Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; Buckskin Charley’s plaque was sponsored by the Southern Ute Tribe; Severo’s plaque was sponsored by the Federal Employees of Ignacio; and Ignacio’s plaque was sponsored by the American Legion and Auxiliary and S. A. L. Squadron of Durango, CO.

The Southern Utes
The Southern Ute Tribe is composed of two bands, the Mouache and Caputa. Around 1848 Ute Indian Territory included traditional hunting ground s in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. In 1868 a large reservation was established for the Southern Utes that covered the western half of Colorado consisting of 56 million acres. In 1873, after gold and silver was discovered in the San Juan Mountains, the Brunot Agreement was created. The Agreement substantially diminished Southern Ute lands, depriving the tribe of seasonal camps, and annual elk and deer harvests. Around 1895 the Southern Ute reservation was created. It was 15 miles wide and 110 miles long. In 1895 the Hunter Act enabled lands within the Ute Strip to be allotted to tribal members, and the surplus lands homesteaded and sold to non-Indians.

The Southern Ute reservation consists of timberlands on high mountains with elevations over 9,000 feet in the eastern portion, and flat arid mesas on the west. Seven rivers run through the reservation, the Piedra, San Juan, Florida, La Plata, Animas, Navajo and Los Pinos. Water is a valuable resource, and its ownership became a central issue between the Ute people and non-Indians who lived on fee lands on the checker boarded Southern Ute Reservation and for the Ute Mountain people who were surrounded by non-Indians who deprived them of water for their people. The conflicts were ultimately settled by the 1988 Ute Water Rights Settlement Act.

The Southern Ute Tribe has approximately 1,400 tribal members, with half the population under the age of 30. The Southern Ute Reservation is situated on a 1,064 square mile (681,000 acres) reservation. The tribe is governed by a seven member Tribal Council elected by the membership. Principle officers include the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer, with all council members serving three-year staggered terms. Tribal government is based on a Tribal Constitution adopted November 4, 1936, that was revised in September 1975. Although the tribe strives to provide strong social welfare and education programs, they also emphasize the importance of the traditional way of life. They sponsor the annual Sun Dance and Bear dance. Tribal members of all ages participate in Pow-wows. Tribal Council recognized the importance of traditional healing and has incorporated this method into the health services program.

Tribal government includes the Executive staff (Trial Council, Executive Officers and support staff), administrative personal, natural resources, education, utilities, judicial branch, health and social services, a culture department, and many more departments. In 2001 Sun Ute Community Center opened its doors. It houses a gymnasium, fitness center, and swimming pools, all at no charge to the tribal members. The center also houses the local Boys and Girls club.

The Southern Ute Tribal Academy opened in August 2000. The Academy is a private school that provides education and day care for children from the ages of six months to the sixth grade. Its curriculum includes a comprehensive Ute language program.

At one time the Town of Ignacio as well as the surrounding land around the town was owned by Southern Ute tribal members. There are a few private homes owned by tribal members within town limits. Shoshone Town Park is tribal land leased by the Town of Ignacio; the Southern Ute Education offices are located within city limits, as is the Tribal Housing entity and rental homes located on reservation lands that border town limits; the Southern Ute Community Action program is also situated within city limits and operates under the umbrella of the tribe.

Many tribal members lived in and around the Ignacio area in the early 1900s on up to the 1950s, and others lived on the reservation outside of town. Housing sites were established in the 1970’s under the Federal Department of Housing and Urban development (HUD), one of the many programs established to alleviate poverty in cities and on Indian reservations. Under HUD, rental and private housing was constructed, however, as federal housing budget cuts increased the tribe sought ways to assist tribal members in obtaining affordable housing. This resulted in a new housing development called Cedar Point Housing sub-division, financed in part by the Southern Ute Tribe, with qualifying tribal members purchasing homes. Cedar Point East began as rental units and converted to tribal member owned homes. Cedar Point West is comprised of privately owned homes, modular and trailer homes. There is still a constant demand for affordable homes for the membership.

posted in: Ute Indian History