As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. >> Click here for more SunLit

This week’s bookstore: Out West Books, 533 Main St., Grand Junction

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Troubled Trails

By Bob Silbernagel
University of Utah Press
$24.95

Aug. 31, 2011

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From the publisher: When U.S. Cavalry troops rode onto the Ute Indian Reservation in northwestern Colorado on September 29, 1879, they triggered a chain of events that cost the Utes their homeland: a deadly battle at Milk Creek, the killing of all men at the Indian agency headed by Nathan Meeker, and the taking of three women and two children who were held hostage for 23 days. The Utes didn’t seek a fight with the whites, most of whom they viewed as friends. However, powerful whites in Colorado wanted the Utes expelled. The Meeker affair was an opportunity to achieve that.

From Marya at Out West Books: In this book, Bob Silbernagel has taken on a part of this story that we seldom read.  What happened AFTER the Meeker ‘Massacre”?  I don’t remember learning in Colorado history classes what happened to Nathaniel Meeker’s wife Josephine, daughter Arvilla, and Flora Ellen Price and her two small children after they became hostages of the Utes. Did we learn that Josie Meeker was ridiculed for her sympathetic views toward the Utes?  Did we learn that Ouray’s sister, She-towitch (Susan), was instrumental in the fair treatment and release of the hostages? Silbernagel presents a fair and accurate accounting of the Meeker incident and its aftermath and it’s a terrific read.

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People of the Red Earth

By Sally Crum
Western Reflections Publishing
$29.95
Feb. 1, 2009

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From Marya at Out West Books: Though it was written in 1996, and many terms and current information have changed, Sally Crum’s book is still a great introduction for the general public to all of the Indigenous peoples of Colorado.  Starting in Paleo and Archaic times, this book also includes relatively current accounts of the cultures of contemporary peoples living in Colorado and now located elsewhere. 

Sally includes sections on rock art, archaeological processes (she’s a former archaeologist), places of interest and Indigenous place names in Colorado.  I always recommend this book to new residents of Colorado or those showing an interest in our first peoples. Sally has also written an early reader about Colorado prehistory for kids titled, “Race to the Moonrise.”

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Ephemeral Bounty

By Curtis Martin
University of Utah Press
$45
April 5, 2016

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From the publisher: The study of the last remaining Ute wickiups, or brush shelters, along with the historic artifacts found with them has uncovered an understudied chapter of Native American history–the early years of contact with European invaders and the final years of Ute sovereignty. Ephemeral Bounty is the result of this archaeological research and its findings on the protohistoric and early historic Ute Indians of Colorado.

From Marya at Out West Books: Though technical, Curtis Martin’s book on his research with the Colorado Wickiup project is eye opening.  Wickiups are the wooden pole and brush shelters, either leaning against a tree or free standing, that the Utes used as a lodge or home. The project demonstrated via metal detection and tree ring dating of ax-cut wickiup poles that not all Utes left their homeland for reservations in Utah during the “final removal” of 1881. 

A significant number stayed and lived as they always had, but with better tools and weapons.  After you’ve read this book, you won’t ever look at branches piled up in a teepee shape the same way again.  On a recent camping trip, we pitched our tent right next to a wickiup, which I would have thought were random poles leaned up against a pinon tree had I not read this book.  It was a deep feeling to consider that we weren’t the first ones to think that was an awesome campsite.

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