National Geographic : 1984 Aug
abrupt mountain walls. And the scary ride to get there, over lofty Red Mountain Pass with ice on the road-Lordy, how I wish there were guardrails on the curves! WHAT were the dreams of Yellow Wolf, whose forebears were crowd ed onto ever smaller reserves as pros pectors, ranchers, and farmers swept into southwestern Colorado? Dignity for the Utes, I think, would have been one of the wishes of this man, whose Anglo name was Ralph Cloud. Long a tribal lawman, he surely had seen his people scourged by alcohol, their spirit lost, as they groped for a new way of life in conflicting worlds. He also would have wanted the Ute language and customs to remain strong. Two tribes of Utes dwell on reservations along the southern border of Colorado. The Southern Utes clustered around what be came the town of Ignacio; many of them set tled as farmers. The Ute Mountain Utes scattered among tumbleweed and parched mesas in the contorted land that holds Mesa Verde National Park. For many years they dwelled in isolation, tending livestock. After Yellow Wolf's funeral at Ignacio, I spent a long evening with Eddie Box, Sr., who had said the Ute prayers by the grave. "We tell young people, 'Learn the language; listen to your grandpa talk,' " Mr. Box said. To him the language is a link with the spirits above-and with one's own spirit.