4800 West 92nd Avenue Westminster, CO 80031

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Life on the Colorado High Plains

Location: West side of the Westin Hotel, north of 104th Avenue, east of Westminster Boulevard.
Artist: Communication Arts, Boulder, Colorado.
Year Installed: 2000.
How Acquired: Funded by the City of Westminster.
Comments: The history panel is located at the base of one of sixteen custom-designed light towers.

Panel text:

Life on the Colorado High Plains

Through the centuries, several Native American tribes have called Colorado home. The Ute’s, Apache’s, Navajo, Shoshones, Comanches, Kiowas, Kiowa-Apaches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes all make up the colorful and rich history of Indian life in the Colorado High Plains. Each tribe was distinct, different in language, traditions, ways of life, and historical experience. Each tribe had similarities, however, in their Colorado lifestyle.

Plains Indian tribes, or bands, lived in the huge, open prairie and in the Rocky Mountains. Many tribes were nomadic, moving with the hunt.  The tribes functioned in a democratic fashion  All members of the tribe had an opportunity to rise in leadership if their abilities so merited.  There were no hereditary classes of chiefs. Titles were won through demonstrated courage in battle and visions.  Plains Indian tribes depended on buffalo for much of their livelihood.  The animal served as an important source of food and shelter.  The meat was eaten fresh or cut into strips and dried in the sun to make jerky.  Buffalo bones were used to make tools, and buffalo chips were used as fuel for fires.  The hide of the buffalo was tanned and used as a covering for teepees.  The Plains Indians also used the hides for clothing and moccasins, sewn together with Buffalo sinew.  The clothes were adorned with fringes and had designs of dyed porcupine quills. 

Everyone in the tribes worked.  Men hunted and fought while the women gathered or planted vegetables.  Many Plains Indians were excellent archers. The horse added his feet of movement to the High Plains culture.  The horse, however, which came to the Indians by the way of the Spanish people and Indian tribes in New Mexico, did not arrive until the later part of the sixteenth century.  By the mid-seventeenth century, many Colorado Utes and Apaches had horses and were skilled riders.

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