Brandi Denison’s Ute Land Religion in the American West is an engaging study of cultural memory and Indigenous dispossession in Colorado. Intrigued by the “Meeker Massacre Pageant” performed in Meeker, Colorado, Denison sought to understand how the performance originated and what purposes it served for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Her research uncovered a “theology” whereby Colorado’s colonizers sanctified dispossession—a “Ute Land Religion.” Her analysis begins in 1879 when Nathan Meeker, agent at the White River Agency in northwestern Colorado, called for troops following a disagreement. Meeker was killed in the ensuing violence, and several Utes fled the reservation with three white women, which led to the expulsion of the northernmost bands of Utes from Colorado in 1881. Following this ethnic cleansing, white Coloradans “launched a series of remembrances of the Utes, as an effort to coalesce a regional identity for a set...

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