The History of the Royal Gorge Region’s Native Communities

Archaeological study has found that humans inhabited Colorado as early as 11,000 years ago. Ancient indigenous groups inhabited the plains and mountains regions throughout the state but largely abandoned the whole of Colorado by the mid-1400s. The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, Blackfoot, and Lakota (Sioux) tribes all inhabited the areas surrounding Fremont County at certain points in time, but the Ute remained the dominant tribe in the region for many centuries and are the oldest residents of Colorado, likely arriving sometime around 1500.

Of the seven Ute bands, the Muache band, occupied the area east of the Rocky Mountains, their territory extending from Denver to Trinidad and down to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Today the Muache and Capote bands comprise the federally recognized Southern Ute tribe, based in Ignacio, Colorado.