Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Exhibit explores life of Colorado’s oldest inhabitants

Native American tribe

Photo courtesy the Colorado Historical Society with permission from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

As visitors step into the Nuche exhibit at the DUMuseum of Anthropology, they get a sense of the people who have lived in Colorado for at least 1,000 years.

The Ute Mountain Tribe, or Nuche as they call themselves, inhabit southwestern Colorado along with the Southern Utes.

“Citizens of Colorado should know about these folks,” says Richard Clemmer-Smith, professor of anthropology and curator of ethnology at the museum. “They’ve played a pivotal role in Colorado history. They’ve been a consistent powerful political entity and are the only sovereign nation in our state.”

Visitors can see artifacts and photographs and read historical information about the Nuche people. One photograph was taken of a girl’s basketball team in 1935. Another shows Ute police in full uniform. The photographs are owned by the Ute Tribe and curated through the Colorado Historical Society.

“These amazing photographs chronicle the changing dynamic of reservation life,” says anthropologist Kim Manajek. “They care about their heritage and the public perception of their heritage.”

Christina Kreps is the museum director. She says the museum is happy to be working with the Ute tribes to help people learn about the tribes’ past and to show that these communities thrive in the present as well.

“They are representing their culture. We’re just a forum for that,” Kreps says.

The exhibit, “Nuche: Colorado’s Oldest Inhabitants,” is located in Sturm Hall Room 102. It runs until Jan. 11. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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