Towee Pitkin

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Marble Springs 2.0 screenshot of Towee Pitkin

What we know

1847 - 1913
Umcompaghre Ute, full-blooded. Daughter of Katalin. Granddaughter of Nabuinde. Great-granddaughter of Pohanapusa. Followed Private Henry Pitkin after he had taken her in the forced march of 1863. She bore him one daughter, Red Birch, and three sons: Black Bird Pitkin, Samson Pitkin, and Lionel Pitkin. Stayed on the outskirts of Marble Springs by the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Ute Crossing

Coming home from the summer land,
Towee’s tribe met the soldiers,
who showed the chief a paper.
How could a paper, the color of bark, change the world?
she asked her mother, who did not know1

Knew only
that they were to cross2 the summer trail into winter.
And live somehow in the deserts beyond.
Wondered only
how to dig graves far
from where the Ute buried their dead.

The summer trails lie empty.
Eagles cree for no one.
And soldiers leered at her
from their horses.
Private Pitkin rode beside her
blood-worn tracks.
And her mother too tired to fight.

Private Pitkin bought her for
three bottles of whiskey and
one long bowie knife.
Honor gone, she followed him,
washing and whoring.
After years of forts and cold canvas tents,
he came back to Marble Springs for quarry work
near her old summer lands.

After Red Birch, her only daughter, died,
Towee would not look up to see the eagles.
She only ground her corn in the old way.
Metate and manos3, she told her daughter.
The small stone grinds corn against the larger,
grinds until the wound it makes is too deep.

She worked quietly—
Squaw of Pitkin.
Bearer of sons.
Grinder of corn.





Hughes, J. Donald.American Indians in Colorado. Second edition. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, 1987.

Marsh, Charles S.People of the Shining Mountains. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Company, 1982.

Neithammer, Carolyn.American Indian Food and Lore. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.

Petit, Jan.Utes: The Mountain People. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books, 1990.

Stewart, Julian H.Ute Indians. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1974.

Portal caption and links

A drawing of a metate and a manos, the corn grinding stones described in the footnote "Metate."

Red Birch Pitkin is over the entire drawing.
Alvina Heollstar is only on the grinding stone.

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Portal for secret connections
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