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The Utes named Towaoc (1915, 5,800 feet) with their word for “all right” or “just fine” (pronounced toy yak). As the headquarters for the Ute Mountain Utes (originally the Weminuche Ute band), the town also serves as the gateway to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park ( MT30), which is twice the size of Mesa Verde National Park. The old pottery building and gift shop, 3 miles east of town at U.S. 160 and U.S. 166, have been remodeled into a slick, streamlined, Neo–Pueblo Revival casino (1992). The old brick Ute Mountain Boarding School (1919) now houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the tribal library, and tribal offices. The Tribal Affairs Building (1889) is a two-story, S-plan structure, stuccoed in adobe style.

Not until oil discoveries on the reservation in the 1950s did all Mountain Utes have enough money to move out of tents and hogans into standard housing units. “We'll all live like white men,” lamented spiritual leader Terry Knight. “We'll live in square houses and pay mortgages.”

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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