Traipsin’, tradin’ and explorin’

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
This photo looking north at the Great Pagosa Hot Spring was likely taken circa 1891. By that time the three bathhouses had been built including a his, hers and theirs. The false front buildings of Pagosa Springs’ main street (Pagosa Street) burned repeatedly until they were finally replaced with brick and block construction.

Last week, our galivantin’ Franciscan friars and their dutiful followers were on the Colorado/Utah border a little west of Nucla, traipsin’ westward into a dry land full of lizards and cactus, but not much water or grass for the horses.
Realizing they needed help, they dropped into a nearby rancheria (the AAA for that time and place) occupied by a few natives. After leaving the Nucla area on Aug. 23, the group met a member of the Ute tribe. They then traveled eastward through the Uncompahgre National Forest onto the Uncompahgre Plateau. Near Montrose, they palavered with a Ute chief who informed them of a nearby group of Timpanogo men.
This seems a good time to inform our readers that the Timpanogos, often referred to by historians as Utes, were not Utes, but an entirely distinct band of Indians scattered across central Utah and into Nevada and Idaho.
In any case, our party continued traveling northwestwardly to Olathe, crossed the north fork of the Gunnison River, and moved on until reaching Hotchkiss. Their direction shifted to the northeast on Sept. 1-2. Upon reaching the area of Bowie, they encountered 80 Ute men on horseback, most of them from the rancheria for which the intrepid fathers had been searching. Some of the party accompanied the leaders who joined the Utes who led them to their village of about 30 tents where Dominguez met with the chief and his sons.
The villagers gathered around listening carefully as Father Dominguez preached through André Muniz, the interpreter. The father expressed concern about certain facets of the native culture such as the practice of plural marriages and of naming people for animals, described by the father as a “lower form of life than people.”
The chief referred to one of the Ute guides as Silvestre and said that he was a Laguna, a Timpanogo(?) from the Utah Lake region. The Ute men strongly encouraged the expedition to turn back because of the danger of encountering the Comanche on their trip west. The Utes worried that if the Hispanics were harmed, the Hispanic governor would blame the Utes. In response, the fathers asserted they needed to continue in order to find a lost Father Garces and they would be safe because they trusted God to watch out for them. Their guides, the interpreter Muñiz and his brother Lucrecio messed up by trading goods for guns, in violation of the pact allowing them to make the trip though Indian country.
My source for this series of articles on the Dominguez/Escalante Expedition is Wikipedia. If the information seems as repetitive to you as it does to me, blame the source.

This story was posted on March 24, 2019.