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A Western Wiki-pedia

By ERIC A. POWELL

Monday, April 06, 2015

Trenches Wikiups Survey

 

Researchers believe that Native Americans have been building the conical wooden shelters popularly known as wickiups, which usually leave no trace in the archaeological record, for at least 12,000 years. In the arid Mountain West, however, many of these structures, some of them recently dated to just hundreds of years ago, are still standing. The Colorado Wickiup Project, led by archaeologist Curtis Martin, has been documenting and dating these temporary dwellings, and has created a database of more than 400 in northwestern Colorado alone. Most were built by members of the Ute tribes, and offer clues to their history.

 

Trenches Wikiups Vintage PhotographMore than half the wickiup poles the project has thus far studied show, via tree-ring dating, that the wood was harvested after 1881. This was a major surprise, according to Curtis, because “1881 is when all Utes were said to have been removed to the reservations in Utah. But we can show they were here, and in great numbers, until at least 1917.” These wickiups, he says, are silent evidence of the last autonomous Utes, who have been overlooked by history.