Wickiup project wins governor’s history award

Team recognized for documenting structures built by Utes in the area

John Lindstrom of the Colorado Wickiup Project examines a fire ring in spring of 2013.

A researcher holds a metal arrowhead found at a wickiup site in spring of 2013.

Holly Shelton and Curtis Martin of the Colorado Wickiup Project document the remains of a wickiup set against a juniper tree in spring of 2013.

During 11 years of searching for and investigating sticks in the forest, members of the Colorado Wickiup Project have made some important discoveries. Most notable, perhaps, is the fact that some Ute Indians continued to live and build structures in western Colorado long after white settlements had been established in this region.

This month, the Colorado Wickiup Project, which is administered by the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group of Grand Junction, was recognized for its important contribution to the history of the state. It won the Governor’s Award at the 2014 History Colorado Stephen H. Hart Awards for Historic Preservation efforts in Colorado.

The sticks that members of the project search for are branches from juniper, aspen and other trees that Ute Indians once used to build small structures. Wickiups were small, conical buildings like mini-tepees, but covered entirely with branches and leaves, not hides or canvas like a tepee. Two or three people might sleep in one.

Other small structures included lean-to storage areas, storage platforms built into trees, and brush fences used to direct wildlife or contain livestock, said Curtis Martin, lead archaeologist for the project.

Researchers for the Wickiup Project have found the remnants of hundreds of such features from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Uncompahgre Plateau, to the Colorado River Basin and Piceance Creek area. Often, metal and stone artifacts are found with them. The sites range in age from more than 200 years to less than 100 years.

Researchers work with representatives of the Ute Indians to catalog the sites and to ensure all artifacts are handled and treated appropriately.

Partners with DARG in the project include the Ute Indian Tribe of northeastern Utah, the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes of southwestern Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Funding for the project has come from the History Colorado State Historical Fund and the BLM, as well as DARG.

“We are extremely proud to receive this recognition and very grateful for all the past support of both these agencies,” said DARG President Carl Conner.


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What a wonderful project and organization!

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