The Ute people are a Native American tribe that originally lived across a wide area of the western United States, including Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. The tribe members call themselves the Nuciu, which means “the people” in their original language, and the name Ute is originally derived from the Spanish name for the tribe, which was “Yuta." Historically, the Ute tribe had a rocky relationship with the religious Mormon settlers, and the conflicts were sometimes violent. The Ute people have reservations in Utah, where most of them live with their own local governments and tribal businesses.
Before the arrival of European settlers, the Ute people were generally nomadic. They usually moved on a seasonal basis to different areas in order to exploit food opportunities as they became available. The men did most of the hunting, focusing primarily on deer and antelope, along with smaller animals like rabbits. Women normally gathered plant foods like nuts, berries and roots. The Ute people also did a fair amount of fishing, and they would often turn fish into jerky in order to preserve it for eating later.
Like many other spiritual traditions, the Ute people had religious beliefs built around a respect for the natural world. Their religion involved animal spirits, and many of their rituals were based on seasonal changes. Overall, they considered themselves to be part of the larger natural scheme of things and had many rules about how they should interact with nature in a respectful way.
Contact with the Spanish brought horses into the Ute culture, and that had a wide impact on many aspects of life. Horses allowed them to hunt more easily and fight better. They also picked up cultural habits from the Mormons, including the raising of livestock and growing vegetables. The Ute people eventually became involved in slave trading with the Spanish. These slaves were generally enemies from other Native American tribes that the Ute had defeated in battle, and the Spanish bought them for use as forced labor.
The Ute relationship with the Mormons was mostly very rocky. There was a general feeling that the Mormons were encroaching on important Ute lands, and this led to raids and war. In the end, the Ute people generally took the worst of this fighting. This fighting was especially common among the Ute tribes that lived in the Colorado area, and many Ute people were forced to move from there onto reservations in Utah.