Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chief Ouray - Ute

Chief Ouray

Ouray was born on Nov. 13, 1833, in Taos County, New Mexico.  He was born to an Uncompahgre Ute mother and a Jicarilla Apache father. They named him Ouray, "the Arrow", because of a great meteor shower the year he was born.

Early Life

As a youngster he learned to speak both Spanish and English, only later did he learn Ute and Apache. At the age of 17, he became the hereditary Chief of the Uncompahgre Ute Tribe.

1859 - Marries Chipeta
In 1859, he married a Tabequache Ute maiden by the name of Chipeta, who was actually a Kiowa Apache who had been adopted by the Ute as a child.


Appointed Chief of the Ute Nation

Because of his diverse background, and his mastery of languages, he was instrumental to Ute communications, including those with President Grant. While visiting Washington D.C. in 1868, he was appointed Chief of the Ute Nation by the US Government.

1868 Treaty - Kit Carson

On March 2, 1868, he struck a deal with his friend, Kit Carson. The Kit Carson Treaty gave some six million acres of land to the Utes. In return they were guaranteed, no one would pass over the remaining Ute land, with an exception of authorized roads and railways.

1873 Brunot Treaty

In 1873 the Ute Nation signed the Brunot Treaty to allow mining in the San Juan Mountains. The United States had offered $11,000.00 to the Utes, but paid only $2.00 to each person who signed the treaty.

1879 The Meeker Massacre

He was able to keep the Uncompahgre Tribe calm, but was unable to control other tribes within the Ute Nation who sought revenge for the unfair treaty.

However, perceiving this action as an "act of war," the Utes revolted.  On September 29, 1879, before the troops arrived, the Indians attacked the agency, burned the buildings and killed Meeker and nine of his employees.  the incident is known as the Meeker Massacre.  Meeker's wife, daughter and another girl were held as captives for 23 days.  After the massacre, relief columns from Fors Fred Steele and D. A. Russell, Wyoming, defeated the Utes in the Battle of Milk Creek, Colorado, and ended the uprising.

1880 The Uncompahgre and White River Tribes moved

On March 6, 1880, the Southern Ute and the Uncompahgre acknowledged an agreement to settle respectively on La Plata River and on the Grand near the mouth of the Gunnison, while the White River Ute agreed to move to the Uinta reservation in Utah.

The Family of Ouray and Black Mare
When Ouray was a young man he married Black Mare.  They were happily married but when Black Mare had their first child, Paron, she died in childbirth.  Ouray asked a young woman named Chipeta to help him raise his son.  Her name was Chipeta. They fell in love and were married.  Chipeta was 16 and Ouray was 26.  Some time after their marriage, Paron was kidnapped by Sioux indians.  Paron and Ouray were never reunited even though Ouray tried every avenue possible to find him.
The Family of Ouray and Chipeta

Chief Ouray and Chipeta were not able to have children. Chief Ouray’s brother and Chipeta’s sister were married, and they gave their first baby to the Chief and Chipeta to raise. Also, when that daughter had a baby, she also gave her baby to Chief Ouray and Chipeta to raise.
August 24, 1880 - Death

In the summer of 1880, Ouray and his wife, Chipeta, journeyed to the Southern Ute agency at Ignacio with the intent to negotiate once again with the white man. Though Ouray completed the journey, he was a sick man by the time he arrived. He died of Brights Disease on August 24, 1880.


If you are LDS (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and you have a new FamilySearch account, you can find Ouray and his descendants on Once you are in, type in your user name and password.  Click on the Search tab. Click on the Search by Number tab. Type in LQ55-YFN in the Person Identifier box.  Click on Search

Ouray's pedigree with children will appear. At this point you will be able to move around and see his ancestors and descendants. 

Please notice that Ouray's first wife was Black Mare and they only had one child named named Puran.

Ouray and Chipeta (also known as Cheta McCook) did not have any children of their own, but they adoped a son.  This is not shown in under LQ55-YFN.

If you have trouble, contact your ward family history consultant.

Family Tree

The family tree of Ouray is available to everone in FamilySearch.  To get this, first go to  Select the Search tab.  Then select Ancestral File on the left of the screen.  Only fill in the following fields with the following information:

Last Name: Ouray
Country: United States.

Do not fill in any of the other fields and select Search.

Click on either selection.

This will show Ouray with two wives: Chipeta and Black Mare.

Clicking on Black Mare will show one child, Paron.

Clicking on Chipeta will show no children for Ouray and Chipeta.


He was buried secretly at Ignacio. Chief Ouray's obituary in The Denver Tribune read:

"In the death of Ouray, one of the historical characters passes away. He has figured for many years as the greatest Indian of his time, and during his life has figured quite prominently. Ouray is in many respects...a remarkable Indian...pure instincts and keen perception. A friend to the white man and protector to the Indians alike."

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