Examining shifting diplomatic and military initiatives undertaken by bands of Ute Indians in New Mexico, this article locates forms of colonial violence at the center of the early American West. Through their adaptations to the arrival of new colonial technologies, economies, and motivations, the Ute and other Indian peoples throughout northern New Mexico responded to the arrival of Spanish colonialism in creative and often violent ways. While forms of band consolidation, equestrian adoption, and increased warfare have characterized many studies of the indigenous West, less attention has been paid to the diplomatic strategies initiated by equestrian leaders in their new worlds. Increased diplomacy and alliance formation characterize the earliest recorded Comanche and Ute histories and offer windows into how Europeans influenced indigenous geographies as well as how various Shoshonean speakers responded to such transformations.

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