this meant to the Weeminuche and Paiutes living in southeastern Utah
is that they would have to give up their lands and move to an arid,
desolate reservation struggling to support those Weeminuche already
there. In the 1870s, this was hardly worth considering: hunting and
gathering was still practical, and pressures had not become overbearing.
However, starting in 1878 an influx of white settlers scouted out farms
and livestock ranges along the San Juan River and in McElmo Canyon,
a natural thoroughfare leading from Colorado to Utah. The Indians became
increasingly uneasy about this invasion from the east, especially when Mormons joined the growing cluster of settlements in 1880 by establishing Bluff. Add to this, four major livestock companies in southeastern Utah
and the probing tentacles of Navajo expansion from the south, and friction
over resources became inevitable and continuous.
1880s and early 1890s were characterized by intense, sporadic confrontations
between the Indians and cowboys, settlers, and military units. Conflicts
at Monument Valley, Pinhook Draw, White Canyon, Blue Mountain, McElmo
Canyon, and Navajo Mountain resulted in deaths and a growing animosity
on both sides. Different Ute/Paiute factions under the leadership of
men like Red Jacket, Narraguinip, Mariano, Bridger Jack, Polk, Johnny
Benow, and Posey reacted to the disintegration of their lifestyle. Many
of these fragmentary groups either gave up and moved to the reservation
in Colorado or coalesced into what would be recognized by the late 1800s
as the Montezuma and Allen Canyon Ute groups. Although these two factions
were interdependent, the particulars of their experience varied somewhat.