Cultivation of food plants was an early contact adaptation limited
to the Pahvant. Ute families lived in brush wickiups and ramadas in
the western and southern areas and used hide tepees in the eastern reaches
of Ute territory. Men and women kept their hair long or braided, and
depending on the region and season wore woven fiber skirts and sandals,
rabbit skin robes, and leather shirts, skirts, and leggings. They made
baskets and skin bags for carrying their goods, as well as implements
of bone, stone, and wood.
acquired horses from the Spanish by 1680. Especially in the eastern
areas, horses increased Ute mobility, allowing them to focus on big
game mammals and adopt Plains Cultural elements. Horses facilitated
Ute raiding and trading, making them respected warriors and important
middlemen in the southwestern slave and horse trade. While involved
in this trade with Hispanic settlers, Utes remain independent from colonial
control. With the exception of the 1776 Dominguez and Escalante expedition,
few explorers ventured into Ute territory until the 1810s when a growing
number of trappers passed through or established temporary trading posts.
Beginning in 1847, Utes experienced the full impact of Euro-American
contact with the arrival of Mormon settlers.