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First Ponies of the Weeminuche

Gray Sun had seen them once. It was the year 1598. He and a band of about 15 Utes had been wandering the high desert, trading with the Pueblo below the Chama River. His company had walked all the way from the San Juans to trade with friends and conduct raids on remote Navajo villages.

In those ancient days, the Utes could only survive by living in small bands and moving by season in their constant search for food. Advanced social interaction was limited and starvation was often only a day or two away.

He told the wide-eyed children, including Little Knife, Evening Bear and his younger sister Spring Waters of his first vision of a horse. None of the children had ever seen one and could only imagine the magnificence of this creature that in a few decades would drastically change their lives.

“My friends the Pueblo warned me to stay clear of the Spanish,” said Gray Sun.

“They said the men in armor killed for sport and had taken many of their tribe to their cities as slaves.”

Gray Sun assessed his audience, which grew as he spoke. His high cheekbones punctuated his speech while his dark copper skin danced with the moonlight. He and his party had been intent on seeing one of these horses, he told them.

Then one morning, while they were hunting they noticed strange tracks in the dust. Moments later they took cover on the riverbank just as men rode by on horseback, their shiny armor and steel swords glistening in the morning sun.

“If the Nuche (Ute name for themselves) could not become invisible like the wind they would have discovered us,” he said,” because in our astonishment we were standing almost straight up, with our jaws dropped, on the bank when the riders passed.

“It had two heads, one covered with a helmet, hair on its face, armor and a great torso. Its legs were larger and stronger than the legs of any warrior. A few yards away the Spaniard dismounted and we realized that it was a man atop a slightly smaller monster that they called the horse. He then got off and walked around independent of his other four legs while straps from mouth to the earth tethered the horse. The horse even had a throne where the Spanish sit. I have heard that some of the horses wear iron too. This Spaniard had no feathers and therefore could not have been a chief.

“That day,” continued Gray Sun, “we sat mesmerized by such a proud and powerful beast under what appeared to be the spell of the arrogant Spanish soldier. The Pueblo told us of many more of these horses to the south. All of us longed to touch one and the bravest plotted on how to tame such a monster.”


When a Ute reached the age of 14, he was anxious to prove himself. Little Knife and Evening Bear were among a group of a dozen braves who would journey to the desert lands of the south in search of the warrior’s soul. The carried dried fish, nuts and berries from the tribes’ dwindling stores. They carried bows and arrows. Their clothing and moccasins were made of buckskin, and they walked the entire way.
Had they Spanish horses they could run down bison and shoot deer from a gallop not stalk them in cumbersome packs. Often their bands might consume an entire kill in three days. With horses, they could hunt as they needed meat, as they traveled or when prey wandered into their domain.

Seasonal foods, such as yucca, wild onions and chokecherries would be slowly ripening as they headed south escaping from the cold mountain winter. They would return to the high country in late spring for the Bear Dance, as their descendents had done for centuries. They would be wealthy with the fame befitting chiefs.
They followed what is now the Animas River out of the mountains heading south. Game was plenty along the river and the forests allowed many secure places to camp away from predators and the elements. After walking for five days they came to the headwaters of the smaller San Juan River.

Crossing the San Juan in January was no easy task. Although parts of the shore were frozen, the river had to be forded at shallow spots where the stream was gentle and the footing secure. The San Juan, like all the other rivers in the West was larger and more powerful than it is today. After two hours everyone was across. It was much greener on the south side.

In another week of walking southeast they would cross the Continental Divide and soon reach the big river that the Spanish had aptly called the Rio Grande. Hot springs, beautiful scenery and welcoming Pueblo lodges made the journey a pleasant one. Fortunately, they would not have to cross the Rio Grande. A friendly village stood on the west bank at Cochin not far from their destination, the Navajo villages near San Ysidro.

The older braves, themselves novices in the art of plunder, had been told by the elders that the Dine’ (Navajo) would be easy prey, hibernating in their winter lodges. Slaves and weapons were the primary objective but the soul of the Ute had horses on his mind. At Cochin they were joined by a small band of Pecos warriors who, as sworn enemies of the Navajo (Head Crackers as they were called by the Pecos) would join in the raid.

As the well-armed contingent left Cochin early in the morning they saw a sow Grizzly – sign of good fortune and a blessing from the Spirit – and made a proper detour. The bear, respected as it was in the animist religion, could be an adversary of great proportions. After all, the Utes were descended from the Great Spirit and the Grizzly Bear. However, that morning the puffy dream clouds in the sky looked more like horses than bears.

Were horses even larger? Did they eat people? How could they hope to catch one and lead it back into the mountains?

Around their fires, they talked of the coyote: his intelligence and his treachery. His freedom and his cunning were legendary. They would need all these attributes the next night when they would strike.


Donning war paint the party descended into the irrigated valley where smoke from the Navajo fires lazily drifting on the horizon. The presence of many Hopi slaves, on the perimeter herding sheep verified that of a fierce battle had recently been waged between that tribe and the Spanish. Unlike the Pawnee and the Comanche, the Utes would avoid taking scalps. They waited for desert darkness to fall.

They silently passed the Navajo village and stopped above a small Spanish outpost where bearded ironclad soldiers worshipped statues and a king across the world. The tents sat to the south a small creek that disappeared into pinyon and juniper. There were not many of them and there were over forty horses in corrals and grazing under the watchful eyes of Pueblo slave children.

Little Knife thought of his family in the Rockies. He thought of his younger sister, Spring Water and how she would do the Lame Dance when they returned in spring. He thought of Gray Sun and looked proudly at his boyhood friend Evening Bear, now donned in war paint and waiting. He watched the horses move in the corral.

Muscles and large heads swayed. The monsters seemed peacefully aware of the Utes. An enchanted stallion stood guard over the herd. He was powerful like the bear and lion. Smart like the wolf. Fast like the elk. No one in the mountains would believe that these great creatures could come to the Blue Sky People. How could we ever get a horse like that back to our mountains?

Three scouts were sent forward to watch the Spanish. When they returned they told of children horses that were kept near their mothers at the center of the herd then left behind at dusk when the remainder of the herd was removed from the corrals at dusk to be exercised and watered by only a few slaves.

It was decided that we would attack at that time and take three colts. The majority of the herd would be stampeded into the Spanish camps to create alarm and diversion. A fire was started upwind from the sleeping Navajo. The Utes would then catch the colts and make off in the opposite direction across the creek and into the forest where others would whisk them away while we formed a rear guard. In addition to the horses we would seize food, slaves and maybe even a rifle or two.

At dusk, we crept down into the lowlands near the camp and quickly stampeded the horses. The slaves did not try to prevent us from doing this. Some actually welcomed us and helped secure the colts. In moments the Spanish tents were engulfed in a galloping, terrorized herd. Most were engaged in catching the horses and not in defending against the attack. The Navajo were busy beating out fires.

The Hopi slaves then crossed the creek and left with us. Four of our braves shot arrows at the Spanish and Navajo who followed across the creek. It was all so very simple. We had suffered no casualties.

The Spanish gave little real chase due to concerns of more trouble with Hopi warriors nearby. They said: What importance is there in the theft of three colts when we have the riches of the new world at our fingertips. By the middle of the night the Utes were miles away following the moon north with their booty. By morning, they slept with the colts secured.

A late spring snow fell as they saw the shining mountains to the north. The horses had calmed and were now enjoying the sweet grass and cool mountain spring water. We crossed the Chama a week later and would be home in a dozen sunsets.

What would our people do when they first saw us with these splendid animals in tow? We would be greeted as great warriors. The elders would sit wrapped smiling in their blankets, the children would touch horse flesh, warriors would surround us beaming, shamans would tell of our exploits for centuries in the lodges at night.

The Circle of Life would go on. By winter these colts would grow to great horses and would change every part of our lives in no time at all.

– Kevin Haley







Better Daze Astrograph

Welcome to another stroll through the cosmic greenbelt. Be assured that the validity of the following is on par with the reality of other sacred institutions and beliefs that brush against you like a yellow-eyed feline on the creaky back porch of the universe. Keep in mind that, in an attempt to maintain the dim-witted flow, our forecasters use only pre-World War I field glasses, great wings of wax, solar-powered probing devices and the power of two thousand crumbling ancient Roman aqueducts to formulate our appraisals. Do not iron or bleach unless you want to. Skipping signs, cutting in line or impersonating signs other than your own will be dealt with harshly.

(July 23 – August 22)

Memorize trash truck schedules. Watch out for meaty thumbs on the butcher’s scales. Downshift. Downshift now! First, build the floor then the walls, then the roof. Reversing this procedure will insure failure no matter what the blueprint says. Having more money than brains is not always a detriment to success. Drugstore cowboys never change horses in the middle of the scene. Keep those feet firmly in the stirrups and the bit implanted in your front teeth. Riding sidesaddle could cause liver or kidney damage. The cavalry is no place for crybabies! Relax: You only pulled a micro muscle in your libido. Nothing broken…nothing maimed. Tonight: It’s high time to press charges.

(August 23 – September 23)

Look at the big picture even though you are not in it. Halting physical effort could lead to unusual level of progress by mid-day. Point that honker toward a meaningful goal and follow it home. Reckless speculation may appear safer from the high side of the river. When dining with animals a raincoat may be preferable to a tuxedo. Practice timid impulsivity. Spend time with your wardrobe, especially the costumes. They are your link to a fantasy world where you can be a star. Remember: You cannot achieve three-piece status in twice-baked overalls. Avoid symbiotic relationships with live ammunition. Tonight: A midnight cruise to Wichita Falls.

(September 24 – October 23)

Lucky breaks come and go. Your lucky brake is located between the gas pedal and the clutch. Take the day off: Even marginalized, bloodthirsty pirates need time to center themselves. Be flexible while in your grocery produce aisle. This year’s summer squash has been known to be confrontational and you may not make it to the dairy case without a beating. Despite hours at the salon, you may feel naked in social armor. Termination of bad hair days could require a more radical trim between the head and shoulders. Look for others who are loose with money and/or affection. Tonight: Dessert goes a long way toward sweet explanation of soupy indiscretions earlier in the evening.

(October 24 – November 22)

Avoid bankers with scalpels and physicians with ledger books. Too many diplomats ruin the soup. According to the planets, you will gain fame and fortune this month, but what do they know? They are merely wads of rock out in space where nobody else wants to live. Rely, rather, on long exposures to television to determine your path. Don’t swallow anything larger than your pride. Your job is simply a passing fancy…the crew on the trash truck already knows that. Sorry, but a bar stool is a poor excuse for a driver’s seat. Your games are recommended for ages 3 to 5. Tonight: Control those hormones until dinner dishes are finished.

(November 23 – December 21)

Personal budget cuts may require hallucinating in black and white. You are but a shadow of your former self. Transparencies may offer surprise access to areas undercover until now. Stay clear of angry water buffalo, runaway trains and planets seeking immediate gratification through celestial realignment. Oh yeah. The bar is a better place to borrow money than the bank since banks insist on signatures. It is better to have a few friends than many enemies. Practiced tact will be perceived as such. Keep your head down and your ears open. Tonight: Darkness. It’s nothing you can’t handle.

(December 22 – January 20)

Waste your own time. Do not let others do it for you. Stockpile plowshares. They can always be turned back into swords at the appropriate time. Finalize national security matters by the light of a new moon. Loose hips sink ships! The walls have ears. Friends within the Taliban may become testy over a pork roast. Serve Spam instead. What good is a gated community if you can’t afford a gate? Don’t let others run you down especially if they are driving large cement trucks. According to our records, you have less than one hour left on your 24-hour deoderant protection. Tonight: More paperwork down at the police precinct.

(January 21 – February 19)

Just because you re flat doesn’t mean the world is geometric. If the world is indeed round, then prove it! Time-sharing your body may not produce desired returns. Peaceful co-habitation means sharing the bidet. Is that mega diet coke attached to your arm? Similar events at home are often cheaper than on the road, depending on which road. Run from responsibility but only walk away from respectability. Keep moving in eternal circles and you could go on forever with the deep, lingering self-denial crap. Love enters your third house with the kibble harvest. If you cannot make a fresh start at least make me up an icy glass of fresh juniper juice. Tonight: How much fresh juniper juice is enough?

(February 20 – March 20)

It is far easier to bore others with your juvenile philosophies if you speak up, even shout, when lauding the inherent variables common to your amusing thought patterns. Be careful not to bite your tongue when exited. Well-grounded is OK for an accepting, lethargic chuck roast but not for a poorly endowed nouveau helicopter pilot attempting to assault the sun. Crayons melt in a beveled bay window but not as fast as ice cream on a leather car seat. Keep plans vague and fog lights on dim until further notice. Tonight: Imagine breakfast in bed tomorrow.

(March 21 – April 19)

Indiscriminate drinking is better in the dawn light when the police have all gone home. Try a little common sense with your flapjacks, Jack. Schedule cosmetic surgery before they close the beaches. Persistence will yield the answers to your most pressing questions…Look there’s an open bar all right! Show respect for kennel mates by keeping the barking down to a roar. Do whatever necessary to neutralize morning breath. Quit that annoying day job—The dumpsters are full of food. Fishy clown outfits are rarely accepted as collateral at the prawn shop. Romance is on tap right next to the cheap beer. Tonight: Go to town groomed to the max!

(April 20 – May 19)

Pay attention even if it hurts. A chore that looks like a chore, begins to smell like a chore and starts yelling in your face like a chore is definitely a chore not to ignore no more. Do Bolsheviks ever paint the town red? Discount yourself through the 18th. The only thing constant is stupidity. Be happy there are others holding down the IQ curve. Family members will overcome the need to graze at distinct social functions. On all matters metaphysical…Get a second opinion. A pet is bored and may seek other dwellings. The refrigerator is making those grumbling sounds again. Tonight: Extra shots for the cook.

(May 20 – June 20)

Together you can make it happen. Pity the poor people with only one personality and a second job in the weekends. Earplugs often outdistance analysis. A vulnerable position on the field is better than false security riding the pine. Invest in tobacco futures, the bailout is coming. Your flight to an exotic place may be cancelled but there is a meatloaf special in the airport cafeteria until 2 pm. Today could be a good time to insulate the aviary. Avoid rendezvous with bald-headed sailors and party girls with primate facial hair. Tonight: Grilled cheese again?

(June 21 – July 22)

Sweet talk and warm embraces will not guarantee a hot breakfast. Snorkeling gear is always a carry-on item. Widen your horizons while you tip the scale. If you are a true transient then there’s nothing that you should be doing at home. Adopt more dogs. Willie Nelson is playing in your living room but you forgot to get a ticket. Look through the windows. Avoid romantic rivals with large weaponry. Thou shallot not covet thy neighbor’s wife (husband) will take on new meaning this month. It appears that you are compatible with the Ox or the Monkey but they don’t think so. Experiment with invisibility and make new friends. Tonight: If you can’t walk the walk at least walk the dog.


– Kashmir Horseshoe, asphalt alchemist, pawn to the elements

Thursday is Bubblehead Night in Congress

(Washington) Citizens in good standing are invited to the First Annual Congressional Bubblehead Night at the Reflecting Pool here. The first 5000 persons through the “doors”, after passing through security and taking an extensive loyalty oath, will receive an authentic bubblehead of their favorite elected official.

Persons who do not have a favorite elected official will receive a 2016 Joe Biden or John Boehner bubblehead as a consolation prize compliments of the Federal Reserve Board. A buffet meal and open bar will grace the festive atmosphere and guests are reminded to avoid bringing up issues that might be deemed embarrassing to the legislators, aka bubbleheads.

In addition to bobbing senators and representatives, each attendee will take home a quart of Fear in a Bottle, a newly brewed genetically altered concoction aimed at keeping the people off balance and ultimately exerting more control of the domestic population. Tested in the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, and the War on Individualism, the fluid fear card has been produced for human consumption (food) by those radicalized by the sequester and by the royal arrogance of rich, elite politicians.

“People will like it,” explained one Congressional aide. “It comes in six different fruity flavors (including fresh hemlock lite) and is the right panacea for an electorate who put these people in power in the first place. “Here in the Land of the Free it is one of the few things that is free.”

It is hoped that the circulation of bubbleheads and liquid fear will further divide and conquer the left and the right in this nation, who, if allowed to determine the real enemy, might react in unison to affect real change.

The event is in no way connected to the popular Send a Whoopee Cushion to Congress which originated after the banking scandals of 2007-2009 which are still “under full investigation” until the public forgets about them.

– Susie Compost

“Fashion fades. Only style remains.”
– Coco Chanel

Well what are we waiting for?

Thanks to Jeff Brown, Real Alaska Magazine


JACK OF ALL TRADES: General dealer in hardware, spurs, hoop skirts, dry goods, molasses, putty, cakes, grindstones, etc. Also teeth extracted for less, corns burned, shoes mended. Ned Buttman, Ames.

Needed: Night watchman for the Wyoming Territory. Looking for man who can work by himself, set own hours, provide monthly reports on the state of things up there. Emile Turlo, Crested Butte.

Will the woman who’s looking for wranglers to herd UFOs off her Montrose ranch please contact Red Babbs at the QBC Ranch in Colona. You can’t have UFOs because this is 1889 and they haven’t been imagined yet…that we know of. Maybe you should call an exorcist. However, I happen to be rustling work and would accept position as cowpuncher. Resume upon request.

Will the British fella that spent last week at Ruby’s Dude Ranch please retrieve his britches. We’re an entertainment facility not a storehouse. After all these years of business the girls and I have never seen such a pair and failure to contact us will result in their display in the parlor window come Christmas of ’85. Ruby.

Need wrangler to escort sacred cows from Ft. Worth to Abilene. Good pay and bonus at the end of the drive. Carl Waco c/o Grapevine Stockyards.

Silent partner needed for bank heist January 30. Great pay if all goes well. Must have own tools and be handy with a sidearm. Anonymous drifted preferred but will consider family man or elected official in need. Cole Younger, Monegaw Springs, MO.

Ed’s Fly Repellent. $2 a can. Guaranteed. Ohio City Emporium.

Exhausted and burned out gold digger, 22, seeks stable position in honest profession. Will consider restaurant work or livery attendant. I’ve been told I have very attractive legs if that makes any difference to ya. Betsy Bilkflower, Parrot City.

Sick of sagebrush and coyotes? British Empire seeks to repatriate former subjects for work in expansion of influence by force. Exotic travel to South Africa, India and Ireland. Good pay and citizenship in a growing empire. Lord Admiral Quelpp, Mercy Beet Hall, London SW.

The 7th Cavalry is searching for entrance level trainees for reconnaissance work in South Dakota. Major Roy Custer, Bighorn Acres, Rapid City. No realtors.

Need a set of 1883 henway headlights for my palomino and a drive train for my saddle. Can’t afford much on wrangler’s pay. John J. John, Spring Creek Herefords.

Fully matured, reimported whiskies by the glass. Beer imported all the way from St Joseph. Faro, race results by wire, poker on Thursdays. Red’s Gravy Heaven, Gladstone, CO.

Dishwasher needed for thriving Telluride restaurant/bar. Looking for someone who is clean, organized, punctual and handy with his fists. Apply in person at the Senate Restaurant before 1886. Ask for Mr. Dempsey.

Homesteaders: Free land in Colorado. Apply by February, 1889 and 40 acres is yours. Owner must occupy land 30 days following agreement to file records at appropriate Quart House. Must make acceptable improvements before January of 1890. EOE.

Trail boss needed for trip between Waco and Dodge. Must be bonded and have cow insurance. Horse provided if necessary (why put all those miles on your own horse?) $100 per month includes all the biscuits and coffee you can muster. Howard Appleton, HA HA Ranch, Lake City.

Want to rub elbows with Utes? A reception for Chief Ouray will be held at the Odd Fellows Hall in Uncompahgre City on March 7, 1879. Bring a covered wagon.

Store teeth for sale or lease. Hardly used. Dr. Harmony Chios. Upstairs the marshal’s office, Placerville.

Tin Cup town council seeks capable sheriff for fun loving gold camp. Last four gunned down. Term extends from now till 1890 when we will re-negotiate contract. Includes living quarters and bullets. Chance to move up. Decent pay and insurance. Send telegram to same. We’ll pick you up in Almont.

Experienced proctologist needed for marathon cattle drive. Day work. Sam Mustache, Sneffels, CO.

Half bison, half longhorn puppies. Free to good home. Ask at the Ouray Livery.

Wanted: Modern 1890s-type woman to move to our gold camp. No funny business…we just want to look at you and maybe ask you to dance. Private quarters and buggy. 100 lonely miners, Gothic.

Roommate wanted for 1972 Chrysler New Yorker. Private entrance. No utilities. Prefer short person who does not snore. Leave word for George Roscoe Lovinggood at Arcadia Park Dance Hall.

Tatooed cowpunchers! Adopt a nuclear submarine. Hundreds of cuddly subs now docked in unsecured harbors through the Ukraine. Urgent situation for the right family. Box 599, Horseshoe.

DOG CATCHER needed for Pea Green and vicinity. Prefer someone with culinary background. Mask and chest protector provided after passing physical. Pastry chef would be perfect. Executive Chefs Placement, Wimpton.

Denver Nugget Cheerleader Counseling. Thursdays under the Tomichi Creek Bridge. Pay as you go, Gunnison Hibernians.

Anachronistic iconoclast paralyzed from the neck up seeks foxy female companion for winter solitude. Make sense to you? Call me at my 800 number and leave a massage.

I will flip coins for special events: football games, assassinations, weddings, funerals bar mitzvahs. Goung rate. Al Gore, Tennessee.

Yuppies wanted for experiments with cleaning fluid. Pay by the day. Insurance after a week. Winker’s Alley, Gunnison. No real estate agents please.

We have in our possession about 1.5 million dollars worth of marijuana left in a brown paper sack behind the Anarchist Booth at the Revolutionary Breakfast Consortium Wednesday. Owner may claim by describing buds. Please come to the Montrose (CA) Police Department to claim. No phone calls.



The beat goes on up north

Thanks to Jeff Brown, Real Alaska Magazine