The Manitou Springs Chronicle
Colorado’s recorded history begins with the explorer La Salle, who appropriated the bulk of the state’s territory east of the Rockies for France in 1682. A number of explorers and friars made expeditions into the territory shortly thereafter, but it remained largely untouched for 120 years, until the United States acquired it through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. A few years later, an Army officer named Zebulon Pike mounted a serious exploration of Colorado, and Pike’s Peak is named for him. (Yet although he tried climbing it on two occasions, he never made it to the top.) Pike’s expeditions aside, Colorado and its neighboring territories remained the domain of explorers alone for a couple of decades, until the era of the fur traders, trappers and mountain men began in 1825. These folks included such people as the Bent brothers, Ceran St. Vrain, Louis Vasquez, Kit Carson, Jim Baker, James Bridger, Thomas Fitzpatrick, “Uncle Dick” Wooten and Jim Beckworth. In the meantime, the Army was setting up forts throughout the territory and leaving the trappers and mountain men to their own devices. It also did some exploring of its own, particularly in the case of John C. Fremont, who made five different exploration trips to the Rockies. He took a cartographer along with him each time, which proved fortuitous for the local werewolves. While the maps were not 100% accurate, the Rockies encompass a large and complex region, and even wolf senses don’t allow a werewolf to master it all in any sort of timely fashion. The Uratha used the maps just as much as the humans did, covering ground much more quickly than their human counterparts because they weren’t as fragile and could withstand the elements better. The maps grew in 1848, when Mexico gave up most of the western portion of Colorado to the US thanks to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. When the federal government bought a few more bits and pieces of land from Texas in 1850, the territory reached its present size and its borders were largely set. Once the region was firmly in US hands, its growth and development began in earnest. Settlers established the first permanent settlement in San Luis in 1851, and the federal government set up some more forts throughout the territory to protect settlers from the Utes and the Arapaho shortly thereafter. In 1858, Green Russell discovered gold near South Platt River and Cherry Creek. Travelers and prospectors from miles around were shouting “Pike’s Peak or Bust!” and the settlers swarmed the area. Montana City, St. Charles, Auraria and Denver City were all founded that same year on the present site of Denver, and Congress established the Colorado Territory in 1861, with William Gilpin as the first territorial governor. It was only a matter of time before Colorado became a state. Unfortunately, it was also only a matter of time before tensions with the natives reached the boiling point. After Russell’s discovery of gold in 1858, the Colorado territory was flooded with all manner of gold miners, all of them hoping to strike it rich. Neither the Utes nor the Arapaho wanted these trespassers tearing up their land, so they fought back, only to be brought to heel by the United States Army over a period of some 20 years. Both sides took casualties, but eventually, in 1881, the Utes were removed to reservations, their culture nearly destroyed. The preceding account raises the question as to the degree of Uratha involvement. Indeed, newly changed werewolves learning their history for the first time wonder if the tribes were represented among the indigenous people and whether the newcomer People fought against them or stood by their own. A few sad facts survive this period. The tribes, especially the Bone Shadows and Hunters in Darkness, did have a presence before the United States took over the land. Yet when it became clear that the settlers meant to dominate the region, they decided that protecting the natives wasn’t part of the Oath or necessarily in the best interest of the People. The fights between native and immigrant packs were over territory, not ideology.