AUGUST 28, 1881


Under an 1868 treaty, Ute bands ceded Colorado’s Eastern Rockies for a reservation on the Western Slope and the U.S. was to set up agencies to distribute food & supplies to the Utes.  When Agent Nathan Meeker, a missionary, tried to force the Utes to take up farming and accept Christianity, they resisted.  Meeker withheld food and supplies as punishment.  An altercation led Meeker to request troops to protect the agency.  When U.S. Cavalry troops responded, the Utes saw it as an act of war and, on September 29, attacked them and the agency, killing Meeker and others, and taking Meeker’s wife & daughter hostage.  On October 5, the Utes surrendered and the captives were released.  After a Peace Commission convened by Interior Secretary Carl Schurz in late 1879 to failed negotiate the Utes’ removal from Colorado, Congress passed the Ute Removal Act.  The White River and Uncompahgre Utes (who were not in the uprising) were force-marched to Uintah Reservation in Utah. 

Source:  “Meeker Incident,” Colorado Encyclopedia.  Retrieved 6/17/2020,
Photo:  Matthew Brady (c. 1822-1896), 1880, Ute delegation.  Public Domain.

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