Local History Thursday: Native American Heritage Month

If you’ve ever stood in Grand Junction and looked east towards the Grand Mesa, you may have noticed some prominent bird-shaped white markings staining the mountainside. standing out amidst the dark volcanic rock.  In Ute tribal legend, these unique features represent the Thunderbird, an entity well-known throughout Native cultures.  Mesa County has its own special story of the Thunderbird’s presence on the Grand Mesa, told by the Ute people who settled upon ‘Thigunawat’ (the Ute name for the Grand Mesa meaning “Home of the Departed Spirits”) from the 1300s to the 1800s.

Chief Ouray, a prominent Ute chief who dwelled in Western Colorado in the mid 1800s. Photo Source: U.S. History Images.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and our county has a rich history based around the Utes and other cultural groups who truly first inhabited this land. The Paleo-Indians, Fremont, and Ute tribes all left archeological traces of their dwellings and lifestyle scattered around the valley.  If you’re curious about expanding your knowledge of the history of our Native people, please visit our library’s Rashleigh History Room located in the Central location. Books abound written on the culture of Native Americans not only from Mesa County, but all around Colorado. The books in our History Room are not available for check out, but will undoubtedly provide new knowledge and a culturally-enriching way to spend the hours.  Here are a few titles available in this special collection:

In search of the old ones book cover People of the Red Earth book cover Utes: The Mountain people book cover

Be sure to also check out Mesa County Libraries catalog for an abundance of titles representing and celebrating Native American Heritage Month, available to check out and take home for your educational enjoyment.

Posted in General, Local History.

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