The Ute Ethnobotany Project
Learning Garden Provides Educational Opportunities for Students of all Ages
Grand Junction, Colorado
Curtis E. Swift, Ph.D.
Colorado State University Extension
Members of the Northern Ute Nation raise the teepee - Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Does your group or class want to learn about Ute indian history in Western Colorado, plants they used for food and fiber and how they lived? Are you a school teacher with students in kindergarten through eighth grade and need to cover science and social studies curriculum requirements? Are you a home-school teacher? If your answer to any of these questions is yes then you should request a visit to the Ute Learning Garden at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
Check out what you can learn by visiting.
Would you like to be a docent? Contact Susan.Rose@mesacounty.us
Your donation will help cover the cost of busing of students to this site, and support maintenance and improvement efforts of this garden.
The Etnobotany Ute Learning Garden Is a joint project of the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Agriculture U.S. Forest Service, Mesa State College, Mesa County, Colorado State University Extension and the Ute Indian Tribe, Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
“An ethnobotany garden is a demonstration and teaching garden that displays how native cultures used native plants in daily life. Specifically for this area we would be talking about Native American tribes. It can also be used as a method of teaching the public about native landscaping and low water-use planting in their own landscapes.” – Tom Fisher, Regional Services Director, Mesa County - 5/15/08
The overall design of the Learning Garden was developed by Aline LaForge, Archaeologist, BLM. The site covers 2.5 acres of previously undeveloped Mesa County land located immediately west of the Mesa County CSU Extension office and adjacent to the existing demonstration gardens and Arboretum. Mesa County graciously provided us the opportunity to develop this site.
- This is a Living Laboratory/Learning Garden available to local schools, clubs, senior groups, members of the Ute Indian Tribe and all area visitors.
- The scope of the lesson plan is broad, from an adaptive vegetable gardening learning area for people with limited mobility and/or limited space, teaching strategies for living and eating from a xeric landscape, to traditional Native American gardening skills, traditional Ute structures to include wickiups and miniature plant communities with representative species from the life zones in and around the Grand Valley.
- The entry to the Learning Gardens is through the patio on the south side of the Extension office or through the gardens on the north end of the building.
- The Adaptive gardening provides local agencies a facility accessible to people of all levels of mobility.
- Volunteers from our partners have worked on the garden and its development.
- Members of the committee met with Betsy Chapoose, Director of Ute Tribe Cultural Rights and Protection, and Clifford Duncan, Traditional Elder for the Ute Indian Tribe, to develop the project. The design takes their recommendations into consideration.
- Many of the trees and shrubs were planted thanks to Jeff Ventlin's students and their helpers prior to the end of the 2008/2009 school year. Additional plants provided by the Environmental Plant Center in Meeker, Colorado were planted by Ute Indian students on Friday, June 11, 2010.
- Shade structures modeled after Ute shade ramadas and a sweat lodge will be installed at a later date.
- A teepee was raised by students from the Northern Ute Nation. The teepee is the focal point for this project. Two wickiups were installed by the Ute Indians and docents in 2010.
- A docent training program has been developed.
- Interpretive signs identify the various plants and how the Native Americans used these plants..
- Grants and donations will be pursued to cover the cost of this project.
- Donate online at https://advancing.colostate.edu/1498.
Major contributors to the Ute Ethnobotany Learning Garden project have included:
- Chelsea Nursery
- Wayne Hopper, ALCC CLT
- Sorter Construction -
- The Colorado Department of Transportation
- Grand Junction Pipe and Supply
- Environmental Plant Centers in Meeker, Colorado and Los Lunas, New Mexico
- All Season Rental
- High County Sod
- White Water Building Materials
- Ute Learning Garden Docents and Master Gardeners - packing of walk ways, assistance on planting days teaching students proper planting techniques, watering, irrigation installation assistance and tours.