Blue Mesa Recreation Association
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Local History

The Ute Indians were the original inhabitants of the area and roamed the mountains and valleys of what is now Gunnison County. In the early 1600s the Spaniards came to the Gunnison Valley and signed the first peace treaty with the indians in 1670. It was not until a hundred years later that the Ute Indians granted Spain the right to trade up the Gunnison River. As more foreigners came to the area friction between the Ute Indians and the white man increased. In 1859 the great Colorado gold rush began and confrontations between miners and indians became more frequent. In 1868 the treaty was signed that confined the Ute Indians to the Western part of Colorado. This was followed in 1880 by the establishment of a reservation, a 15 by 100 mile strip of land, in southwestern Colorado for Southern Utes. In 1937 the Restoration Act returned 222,000 acres to Southern Utes.

In the late 1870's and early 1880s between 25,000 and 40,000 people flocked to the area to seek their fortune in silver and other minerals. In 1893 the plummeting price of silver caused many of the mines to close making it impossible for many of the camps to stay alive.


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