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Tour through Time - Part 2

New groups

Around AD 1300, the people we call Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan people were no longer visible in the archaeological record. They abandoned some areas, and new groups moved in.

At this time, people in Utah went back to hunting and gathering—living the same way the people in the Archaic period lived. These people were ancestors of the tribes we now call Ute, Paiute, Navajo, Goshute, and Shoshone.

historic photo

A Goshute mother and her child.

Utah’s five tribes

The Ute, Paiute, Goshute, and Shoshone are related. They speak different but related languages from a family known as the Numic Language Family. The Navajo speak a language that is in the Athapaskan Language Family, and is related to that of the Inuit people of Canada and Alaska.

Before the coming of non-Indian people, these groups all hunted, fished, and gathered wild plant foods. The pinyon nut was especially important as a food.

After the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans came, Utes and Shoshones acquired horses. Navajos began to herd sheep, goats, and cattle.

These groups now live on reservations in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho, although prior to non-Indian settlement, they ranged all across the Great Basin and Intermountain West.

Spanish/Mexican explorers and traders

Mexicans and Spaniards were the first known non-Indians to enter what is now the state of Utah. The discovery and translation of the journals of Juan Maria Antonia Rivera tell that he led at least two expeditions into the area of present-day Utah in 1765.

In July 1776, a 10-man exploration team left Santa Fe, New Mexico. Under the leadership of two Franciscan priests, Fathers Dominguez and Escalante, the expedition was looking for a route between Santa Fe and Monterey, California.

They traveled through Utah between September and November 1776, describing and mapping it carefully.

By the early 1800s trade between Santa Fe and American Indians in Utah was well established—a lot of it involving Indian slaves taken back to New Mexico. Also, traders between New Mexico and California traveled across Utah. This trading continued through the early settlement years.

Part 3: People coming through - and staying

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