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Families

What do these photos tell you about how indian families were like?

Julian Buck's Family

This is a photo of the Julian Buck family and some friends. Julian Buck and his wife were Ute Indians. They are standing in the back row (left and center). Their child is in the cradle board.

Julian Buck's Family
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Julian Buck was the son of Buckskin Charlie, a Southern Ute chief. Buckskin Charlie lived a long and interesting life, serving as a principal chief for fifty-six years. When he was a boy, the Utes controlled much of Colorado. As a young man, he saw Colorado settled by white miners and farmers. In his later years he watched the Utes lose most of their land. He died on a reservation in 1936, at the age of 96.

A Travois With a Wooden Cage

The woman in this photo is taking her two children on a trip. The children are riding in a wooden cage mounted on a travois.

A Travois With a Wooden Cage
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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A travois is made of poles attached to a horse. Indians used travois to haul their belongings from one place to another. It was a comfortable way to travel across the plains.

Their Own Words

"As a little boy, I used to ride in a travois basket when the tribe moved camp. The long lodge poles were crossed over the shoulders or tied to the sides of a horse. Thus they were dragged over the country. Buffalo skins were used to stretch across between the widely gaping poles behind the horse....I have fond recollections of this kind of traveling. Many an hour I have slept in that kind of gentle bed. Roads were not needed for this kind of vehicle. A travois can be taken anywhere a horse will go, and there is never any jolting. The spring of the poles and the skin takes up all the shock."

Source: Thomas B. Marquis, Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer (Lincoln, 1931), p. 5.

A Family In Their Tipi

This 1905 photo shows an unidentified indian family family inside their tipi. This photo was taken on the Flathead Indian reservation in Montana. Even so, the inside of this tipi was likely typical of tipis of other Indian bands in the Rocky Mountain West.

A Family In Their Tipi
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The inside of this tipi contained most of this Indian family's household items. You can see many pillows and blankets around the edge of the tipi. You can also see coffee pots and other containers around the fire in the center of the tipi. The way Indian women put up their tipis created a draft that forced the smoke from the fire to escape out the top.

Ute Family

This Ute family and its dog are posing for a photo in front of a tipi.

Ute Family
Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Dogs were favorite pets among the Utes. Each family kept at least one dog and some as many as a dozen. Some of these dogs were related to wild coyotes. Running free and feeding themselves, dogs helped keep the camp free of garbage.

A Family Around An Outdoor Oven

This photo shows an Indian family posed by an outdoor oven. Apparently, the family belonged to the San Juan Pueblo. The photo was taken at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum near Manitou Springs, Colorado.

A Family Around An Outdoor Oven
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The oven is made of earth, but there is a shiny metal pot inside the oven. The men are wearing cotton shirts and beaded leggings. The women are wearing mantas, leggins, and mocassins. This photo was taken about 1915.

Buckskin Charlie's Family

Ute Chief Buckskin Charlie (his Indian name was Sapiah) poses here with his wife and two children. His wife's name was Emma Naylor Buck (Indian name was To-Wee). Chipeta, the widow of Ute Chief Ouray, is sitting to Sapiah's right. This photo was taken in 1911.

Buckskin Charlie's Family
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Chief Sapiah is wearing a cotton shirt and vest. On the vest you can see a medal. It was a Rutherford Hayes Indian Peace Medal, given him by that President of the United States. His wife, To-Wee is wearing a bead necklace. Behind the family is a tipi. Blankets and ceremonial headdresses cover the entrance of the tipi.

Ute Chief Severo's Family

Ute Chief Severo, his wife, and his daughter pose for a studio photograph. Severo is wearing stiped pants, a military coat, and vest, and a kerchief. His wife is wearing a print dress, a concha belt, mocassins, and a shawl. The young girl is wearing a print dress and a shawl. She is also holding a doll in a play cradleboard.

Ute Chief Severo's Family
Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Chief Severo's military jacket may have been a gift, a trophy of war, or a symbol of Severo's authority. Severo was the head of the Ute reservation police at this time. When Indians were removed to reservations, one of the powers the whites left them was policing themselves. This photo was taken in about 1897, probably in Durango, Colorado.