The Sacred History of Southern Utah Indian Tribes

Jan 24, 2019


The Sacred History of Southern Utah Indian Tribes

We got here first!  This fact has produced a rather silent, yet resentful attitude between the Native Americans of Southern Utah and the larger, more prosperous populous of today’s mainstream Utah.  Since the time of Jesus on the Earth, ancient Indian tribes occupied many parts of Southern Utah, until famines and droughts killed many and drove others off to seek life elsewhere.  Now, roughly five Indian tribes still inhabit much of Southern Utah, including ancestors of the ancient ones from the time of Christ to about 1400 A.D.

Two prominent cultures inhabited Utah during the “dark ages” after Christ:  the Fremont and Anasazi Indians.

The Fremonts

The Fremonts were mostly agricultural people who lived in western and eastern Utah, near Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado.  Named after the Fremont River by explorers and modern-day Indians, the Fremonts left petroglyphs, which are scratched drawings and paintings on rock surfaces.  The Fremont people used plant and mineral dyes to apply color to the ancient rock art.

The Anasazis

The Anasazis (Ancient Ones), of Southern Utah, were named by the Navajo, who were continually feuding with the Anasazis’ descendants—Pueblo and Hopi Indians.  They occupied the areas of northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, and southeastern Utah.  Today a distinct boundary exists between Hopi and Navajo land on the Reservation in Northern Arizona. The dividing roads are well-known at their junction in Tuba City, a town of considerable commerce in the Reservation.

The Anasazis believed in multiple gods, most of whom represented the Earth, Sun, Sky, and Water.  Reverence for Earth and Mother Nature has been perpetuated among descendants of the ancient tribes.  For example, the Pueblo Indians of today are believed to be descendants of the Ancient Ones, and they teach this reverence of Earth, Sun, Sky, and Water to their children and regularly hold celebrative ceremonies in honor of the gods.

Ancient ruins of Anasazi houses and art can be seen in Mesa Verde, near Farmington, New Mexico, and other areas of the Four-Corners region, including Southern Utah.  (The Four Corners marks the joining of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Arizona.)  Almost 2,000 years ago, the Anasazi built “Kivas” for secret, religious ceremonies.  They were rooms dug deep in the ground.

Modern Day Tribes

The modern-day tribes in Utah are Ute, Goshute, Paiute, Navajo (Dine), and Shoshone.  Many have established their lives in mainstream “White” towns and cities; however, thousands still live on reservations, often quite poorly.

While driving through the reservation in Northern Arizona, I recently picked up an older Navajo man who was walking along the highway from Flagstaff toward the reservation.  He enthusiastically pointed out many of the surrounding landmarks and gave their names: the Woman, Navajo Mountain, Shadow Mountain, the Bear, etc.

Throughout the Four Corners region near Southern Utah, you can visit sacred sites where ancient houses in cliffs still remain, as well as rock art as petroglyphs.  Some sites are state and federal monuments, and others are protected by the BLM.

Monument Valley was dedicated as a Navajo Tribal Park in 1959.  It and the Visitors Center display Navajo archaeology. To see more of the Park than normal, you can request a Navajo Guide at the Visitors Center.

The Sacred History of Southern Utah Indian Tribes

 Article By: Clear Content Marketing

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