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A Sheridan College lecture focuses on the Ute’s journey across Wyoming in the early 1900s

Sheridan College Native American history lecture poster
Sheridan College Foundation

The first lecture of the Thickman Faculty Lecture series at Sheridan College focuses on a Ute journey across Wyoming.

Donovin Sprague, a member of the college’s history faculty and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in South Dakota, will present “The 1906-08 Ute Journey Across Wyoming.”

“A lot of people are not aware of this historical event that involved the Ute tribe, when in 1906, that they had left their reservation, and were unhappy about the land deal that they had got through with Washington, and so they left in this dissatisfaction up to [300] to 400 people would be involved in this and a journey across Wyoming,” he explained.

Sprague said this route took them across parts of Wyoming en route to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in central South Dakota.

“They were clear over at their reservation at [the] Fort Duchesne area in northeastern Utah,” he added. “They went north into Wyoming and on to Rock Springs and more towards Douglas. They did a return trip through Rock Springs, but [went] through Douglas and Casper and the general areas of Newcastle and Gillette and then north of Gillette. They went clear into Montana [and were] in some very rural areas.”

The lecture will include a few dozen photographs that the college has of the journey from 1906-08 from newspapers that helped document it. He said during the Ute’s journey some of the press coverage that they garnered was less than accurate.

“There were lots of all these newspapers all the way across all [reporting], all these terrible things happening like the Indians are on the loose and there were stories even from Omaha and Minnesota that said they had killed people out here ranchers and none of that was true,” he said. “It was just scare tactics stuff.”

Sprague’s lecture won’t be the first time that he’s discussed this topic, though there’s new aspects as he tells it each time.

The lecture will include a timeline of the journey that begins in 1906 as well as some of the hardships that they endured while making the trek. Ideally, Sprague would like to present his lecture at other venues for more people to learn about.

“I hope to maybe do this at UW or someplace, because we can get the word out about this historical event,” Sprague said. “In 2006, we contacted the state of South Dakota about this event, it's 100th year, and they didn't even pick up on it. And after it was over, and they heard about it and learned about what happened, then they got all excited, so they totally missed it, and so I think it's something that's really worthy of [the] historical record here in Wyoming.”

The lecture will be held on Oct. 6, and is hosted by the Sheridan College Foundation and funded by the Thickman Lecture Endowment. It’s free and open to the public.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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