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Interim Invocation: Holding the Land Dear

Jed Haupt: History Faculty, Interim Program Co-Director, Mountain Biking Coach, Sinclaire Residential House Director


Long before Fountain Valley, Colorado Springs, railroads, mining and the migration westward, there were people here, in this place, in their time. The “People of Sun Mountain,” the Tabeguache or Uncompahgre Ute, the largest of the 10 nomadic bands of the Ute Indians, called this place their home. “Sun Mountain,” called Pikes Peak today, was aptly named; this is the landform, after all, that the morning sun first hits before all other surrounding landscapes

Pikes Peak was a sacred ceremonial area for the Tabeguache. The layers of hills giving way to the bare peak were home to their culturally sacred Ponderosa Pines, which were used for prayer, burial, peeled-bark medicine and arborglyphs (the carving of shapes and symbols into the bark of living trees.

In the fall, these nomads would travel up and over Ute Pass toward the Upper Arkansas River and current-day location of the FVS Mountain Campus. They would also visit the springs at the base of this pass and make ritualistic offerings to the spirits of these springs with the hope that they would be rewarded with good health and fruitful hunting. These mineral springs, called manitou for the "breath of the Great Spirit Manitou," were considered sacred grounds where Native Americans drank and soaked in the mineral water to replenish and heal themselves, and where Ute and other tribes came together in peace.

John Wesley Powell lived with the Northern Utes in 1868-69. Paraphrasing his observation,
They will never ask to what nation or tribe or body of people another Indian belongs, but to ‘what land do you belong and how are you land-named?’ Thus the very name of the Indian is his title deed to his home and thus it is that these Indians have contended so fiercely for the possession of the soil…His national pride and patriotism, his peace with other tribes, his home and livelihood for his family, all his interests, everything that is dear to him is associated with his land and place
So, when you embark on your Interim trips, I ask that when you arrive at your destination, please reflect on this question: “For whom is this land and place ‘everything that is dear?’” And, please ask yourselves the same question: “What land and place do you hold dear?”

This insight—both into the cultures in which you will be immersed and into yourself—is our goal for Interim.

Thank you.
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