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Origins of Colorado


Francisco Atanasio Dominguez
Colorado State

Tools and campsites found by archaeologists in eastern Colorado indicate that humans appeared in present-day Colorado as early as 10,000 bc. The first people known to have settled in what is now southwestern Colorado are called the Anasazi, who seem to have entered the area in about 1500 bc. Little is known today about the early Anasazi, but a flourishing Anasazi culture existed in Colorado between ad 300 and ad 1300. Archaeologists divide Anasazi culture into two major periods, the Basket Maker period and the Pueblo period.

In southwestern Colorado the Basket Maker period lasted from about 1500 bc to about ad 700. The Basket Makers were (as the name implies) very skilled at making baskets, which they used for storing food, cooking, and carrying water. At first they lived mainly in shallow caves on the tops of mesas (plateaus that have eroded), where they grew corn, squash, beans, and other crops. In about 500 bc they began to live in shallow, roofed-over pits, make pottery, and use pots as well as baskets.

The Pueblo period lasted from about 700 to 1300. The peoples of this period built houses of stone and adobe (sun-dried brick) and lived in pueblos, or villages, on the mesas. By about 1100 they were living in elaborate pueblos of several stories. In about 1200 these peoples moved from the mesa pueblos into new pueblos built along the canyon walls just below the overhanging rims of the mesas. These peoples are sometimes referred to as Cliff Dwellers. Toward the end of the 13th century increasing population, changing climate, decreasing natural resources, and a severe drought forced the Anasazi to move. It is thought that the Pueblo people of today are their descendants. By the early 18th century, other Native American groups were living in what is now Colorado, including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, and the Ute.

The Ute moved from Utah east into the Colorado plains, where they lived at the highest altitude of any Native American group—often at 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level. The Ute traded elk and deer hides for horses and hardware with the Spanish and with Pueblo people of the Río Grande Valley.

After serving provisional terms, appointees must run for election. Supreme court judges are elected for ten-year terms and district court judges for six-year terms. Lower courts include county, municipal, and police courts.

Spanish and French Exploration


The Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Colorado, and Spain formally claimed the entire region early in the 18th century. Various Spanish expeditions entered Colorado, including the 40 soldiers led by Juan de Ulibarri in 1706 and the expedition of Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante in 1776. French interest in Colorado dates from 1682, when the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed for France all the land between the Allegheny Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. La Salle, who never went west of the Mississippi River himself, named the vast region Louisiana (Louisiane, in French), after Louis XIV, the king of France. French trappers and traders ventured into Colorado during the 18th century. "Colorado" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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