The bloody confrontation between Utes and the U.S. Cavalry at the Colorado Ute Indian Agency in 1879 was a significant chapter in U.S. history. The government and Colorado citizens used this battle as a rhetorical flashpoint to justify removal of Utes from their land. This conflict presents an opportunity to revisit nineteenth-century violence over land. I suggest that a religious studies framework can deepen our understanding of the entanglement of tensions among ethnicity, morality, and land use. Ute Indians pastured hundreds of horses on land that Nathan Meeker, the white Indian agent, wished to plow. This paper argues that notions of religious and racial difference framed the land conflict between Meeker and the Utes, even as both groups viewed land as a means to gain status.

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