Indians in the Garden

Legendary. The giant sandstone formations breaking from the rocky soil below. This area was held in awe by the Indians who found their way here. But it wasn’t just the stones. It was the natural springs of the area and the mountain that would one day bear the name of a man who never climbed it.

The tribes that visited the area are many, Ute, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Apache, Comanche, Arapaho, Pawnee and Lakota.

Courtesy Pikes Peak Library District

Mostly, though, it was the Utes that camped in the garden area. Early rock engravings that have been found in the area are typical of the Ute people. The Cheyenne and Arapaho were known to have summered in the area as well.

The hunters ran the elk and buffalo into the canyons while the women foraged on the hillsides for berries and pinon nuts. Once the white man arrived, the Plains Indians found other places to spend their summers. But the Utes of the Shining Mountains were the exception.

Ute Chiefs at Shan KiveCourtesy Pikes Peak Library District

In the mid-1800’s a large group of Utes, including Chief Ouray and Chief Colorow spent the winter in the Balanced Rock area. It was an unusually harsh winter and the Utes were starving. They turned to the folks in Colorado City, nearby, for help, averting a crisis.

Courtesy Pikes Peak Library District

In the late 1800’s the Ute people were moved to the reservations. But in 1912, they returned to the Garden by invitation for the Shan Kive celebrations.

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