Pieces of History: First People of Western Colorado

This shows the different types of points that were discovered from the people that lived in Western Colorado and Utah. 

This shows the different types of points that were discovered from the people that lived in Western Colorado and Utah. 

Paleo, Archaic and Fremont Indians

The first people to live in the western part of Colorado and Utah were the Paleo-Indians.   They appeared on our continent at the end of the Ice Age entering from Asia about 12,000 to 9,000 years ago.  The land was wet and the temperatures cooler due to the melting glaciers. As the continent warmed up and became drier the Archaic Indians evolved from the Paleo-Indians 9,000 to 3,000 years ago. The Fremont Indians have been in western Colorado and Utah 3,000 years ago to 1,000 years ago. Following the Fremont Indians came the present day Ute Indians around 1,000 years ago.


Archeologists called the first people Paleo meaning early or ancient.  It is unknown what they called themselves. There is not a lot of knowledge about these people due to their nomadic lifestyle leaving very little evidence of their habits.  The best sites for obtaining information have been found in caves.  Archeologists have discovered through these ancient sites that these early inhabitants used spear points called Clovis or Folsom points made out of flint.  They had large spears, stone knives and grinding stones to grind seeds.  They lived and traveled in small groups staying in the safety of caves or building temporary shelters out of brush and animal skins.  They had very little, only what they could carry on their backs.

As the ice age ended and the glaciers melted the area of Utah and western Colorado became swampy wetlands.  The Paleo-Indians hunted animals such as mammoths, camels, and buffalo with spears using nets to fish the swampy areas.  They divided into two separate ways of existence.  The group that stayed near the water sources fished and gathered plants while the other group took up the nomadic life of following the food source like the buffalo and Woolley mammoth. They could now travel across the land with more ease as the climate turned dryer and hotter with juniper trees and sagebrush emerging.  As the Ice age ended the larger animals such as the woolly mammoth died off and food became scarcer there became a need to do more traveling to be near the food source.

The Paleo-Indians lived on this continent longer than all the other groups of people put together.

The Archaic Indians evolved from the Paleo-Indians and were the next people that inhabited this area.


Utah Division of State History

 Desert USA