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Vol. 3 - No.11 November, 2021 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
 
Chronicle of the Old West
Dakota Livesay | Old West Historian
The combination of temperance and hard work is not a bad thing. But, as we shall see today, quite often people who believed in these precepts also wanted everyone else to do the same.

Continued.... (see below)
Nathan Meeker
Nathan MeekerNathan E. Meeker started out as an agricultural writer for Horace Greeley’s New York Herald. He had a particular interest in cooperative farming and living. So Horace Greeley sent him to study what the Mormons were doing in this area. On January 6, 1870 Nathan headed west. But, when he got to Colorado, Meeker decided Colorado was a good place to start his own communal colony. So he started the temperance colony of Greeley, Colorado.

Things didn’t progress well, and in a few years Nathan was penniless. To generate income, and pay off debts, he became the Indian agent for the White River Ute Reservation.

Nathan Meeker not only believed that work was fun; he was passionate in spreading his message. He decided that the Ute Indians should be farmers.

This didn’t sit well with the free-spirited Ute who traditionally were nomadic teepee-dwellers following the buffalo herds. In addition, what Nathan didn’t know about Indian culture, was more than exceeded by his lack of tact. One of his policies was that any Indian who didn’t work the fields wouldn’t eat.

Within a year things were so out of hand that Meeker called for troops to quiet the Ute Indians. Knowing the military was on its way, the Ute struck first. They went after the symbol of their hatred, the Indian Agency.

All of the agency male staff was killed with Nathan Meeker impaled to the ground in his own back yard.

This wasn’t the first, or the last attempt to make hunter tribes into agricultural Indians. But, it sure was the biggest failure.
Nathan MeekerReproduction of a sketch of the Meeker tragedy at the White River Ute Indian Agency. September 29th, 1879, Rio Blanco County, Colorado, shows soldiers surveying the destruction from the fire and battle between Native American Utes and Nathan Meeker and his employees. Nathan Meeker's grave is at the lower left.
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