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Posted October 15, 2003
Chipeta: Queen of the Utes is an engaging story of life on the Colorado (American) frontier. It was unusual for a woman to be in such an influential and important position in Indian tribes. The authors apparently not only did extensive research (yes, this is a well-documented book) but are delightful storytellers. The oral tradition of Ute tribal legend is codified in a readable book. Few women had a voice in 19th and early-20th Century America. Chipeta stood out. She became her husband¿s most trusted advisor. She was also an accomplished artisan, sang and played the guitar. At a time when Indians were marginalized, this Ute woman, Chipeta, traveled with her husband Chief Ouray to Washington DC. She even testified before a Congressional inquiry panel. There are many historic photographs. The writers dug deep to locate archives not seen before. Ouray and Chipeta had their photograph taken by the famous Mathew Brady. Through the eyes of the writers we see the setting of Brady¿s studio and such details as the chair Chipeta sat in was the same one used in a famous photo of President Lincoln and his son. Some of the vignettes tell of the danger and discrimination the Utes felt after the Manifest Destiny doctrines of the 19th Century legislators. The incident at the Pueblo [Colorado] train station is spell-binding. So-called Americans had great animosity for the Native Americans. When the delegation traveled to Washington DC, the officials of the US government wanted to show the military power of the nation. The Utes were not intimidated. Chipeta¿s later life was one of mixed blessings. She found a second husband after Ouray¿s death and adopted a number of children. But she lived a hard life on a reservation in Utah. The stories of her reemergence as a celebrity in Colorado during her senior years is rewarding. The authors draw on newspaper accounts and oral histories by people who knew Chipeta to recount her later life (she died in 1924). She became so popular in Colorado that two towns vied for the right to bury her. The book includes an Epilogue of related events that occurred after Chipeta¿s death. An Appendix identifies many places and things that are named in honor of Chipeta. This book would be an excellent high school or college text for classes studying the Native American culture. For the pleasure-reader Chipeta: Queen of the Utes is a nice flowing, well written text about an early American culture.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.