Manataka American Indian Council






A Horse Raid

A Ute Story

After many days traveling, a Ute war party would find a Cheyenne, Comanche, or other tribal village with a lot of horses. The Utes would rush in and chase off as many horses as they could. When the Indians of the village came after them, they would try to get away as fast as they could, but sometimes they would have to stop and fight. If the Utes killed an enemy, they would take his bow and arrows and his clothes.

Sometimes they would return from a raid with many things they could use besides horses and many people and gave away what they did not need to the poorest people in the camp. 

After a hunt children would come to the hunting party and quietly sit to await a portion of the hunt and Ute hunters were always generous.  Someday that hunter might need something, too. If a man gave away many horses and much meat, he might be asked to be Chief someday. It meant that he could take care of his people.

As the Utes got more and more horses, their way of life began to change. They hunted buffalo on the plains and had plenty to eat. With more food they could live with their other families of their band in a big camp all year long. Sometimes these camps spread out for half a mile along a river or stream. Life was no longer so lonesome during the long winters. They also had warm buffalo robes to wear and strong buffalo hides for covering their teepees.

The Utes also found a better way to get horses. With fast horses of their own, they could raid other Indian tribes and steal horses. They no longer had to let their children work for the Spaniards. The Comanche Indians to the south were very rich in horses. So many of their horses were stolen by the Utes that two tribes became bitter enemies. The Arapahos and the Cheyenne Indians of the plains were also victims of Ute raids.

Life in a big camp was very exciting. In the morning, one of the leaders of the band would announce what was to be done that day. Each band now had a chief or camp leader. Only the leaders wore bonnets made from eagle feathers that streamed down the back. One chief might announce a buffalo hunt. Another time, the war chief might decide to lead a raid. All the men who wanted to join the raid would get the fastest horses and join him. Sometimes the Ute women went along to tend the camp.

When they lived in the big camps, the Utes learned many new dances. They did not have to wait until spring; they could dance together any time of the year. After a raid, the women would perform the Lame Dance. In the dance, they would drag their right foot to show how heavy the load was that they carried home from a raid. 


From the Archives of Tiger Lilli Sakima

"Horse Raid" painting by David Mann

"Victory Dance" drawing by Paul Gobel

Our thanks to Blue Panther