From around the 13th century A.D. or a little later, hunter-gatherer (nomad) tribes speaking Numic languages—for example, the Pajutes and Utes—began to arrive in the Southwest from the west, from California and Nevada. Later, especially in the first half of the 18th century, other groups speaking Numic languages—the Shoshone and Comanche—were still flowing into the Southwest or its vicinity; the Comanche in certain areas (mainly Colorado) quite effectively thwarted the domination of Apache groups, especially in mountain and upland areas, like in Rocky Mountains. The Comanche (along with the Ute) also invaded Navajo settlements, but in principle they tended to operate in the peripheral areas of the Southwest and these raids did not lead to their permanent presence in this territory.

Archaeological research is obstructed, among other reasons, by the fact that little remains of these highly mobile peoples, with material culture strongly constrained by their economic model and way of life; in addition, it is frequently difficult to distinguish the early Ute from Athapascan sites and to differentiate the individual characteristics of these cultures because of their comparable adaptations to the environment, ways of using it, similarities in material culture as well as the mobility of these groups and the fact that they occupied the same lands in relatively short intervals of time one after another.

More information about Utes appears in written sources from the first half of the 17th century, also in connection with their conflicts with the Navajos, Pueblo, and Spaniards and also about their acquisition of horses and guns. Today Utes live in few reservations, two in Colorado (Ute Mountain Ute Tribe – 4-5 kilometers from Polish archaeological project research area and Southern Ute) and in two in Utah, mainly in Uinta and Ouray Indian Reservation, second-largest Native American reservation in the US.

Polish archaeological investigations in Colorado include documentation of large historic Ute rock art panels (mostly petroglyphs) from 17th to 19th century, for example unique and large Strawman Panel site (129 meters long canyon wall full covered with petroglyphs) located in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, southwestern Colorado. The petroglyphs depict mostly anthropomorphic figures, bear paws, and extended scenes that include fighting warriors sometimes on horses and hunting of large animals, mostly deer, bighorn sheep, and bison.

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