Sleeping Ute Mountain resembles a sleeping Indian with his headdress on. He was a great warrior god who helped fight against white invaders, and during the battle his feet formed the mountains and valleys. He was wounded and fell asleep to help his wounds. He is still sleeping, but the blood from his wound became water and rain clouds come from his pockets. The changing of his blankets bring the seasons: dark green, yellow and red, and white.
Jackee heard the Sleepy Ute myth on a Navajo reservation in Utah which she visited as part of an alternative spring break trip. The legend states that a great Ute warrior was wounded during battle while fighting the white invaders of the land. He lay down to rest to help heal his wounds, and when he awakes he will continue his fight against them and take back the land that belongs to the Ute tribe. A more complete version of the legend can be found on various sites hosting Native American folklore. This version can be found on a Ute website:
In the very old days, the Sleeping Ute Mountain was a Great Warrior God. He came to help fight against the Evil Ones who were causing much trouble. A tremendous battle between the Great Warrior God and the Evil Ones followed. As they stepped hard upon the earth and braced themselves to fight, their feet pushed the land into mountains and valleys. This is how the country of this region came to be as it is today. The Great Warrior God was hurt, so he lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. The blood from his wound turned into living water for all creatures to drink. When the fog or clouds settle over the Sleeping Warrior God, it is a sign that he is changing his blankets for the four seasons. When the Indians see the light green blanket over their “God”, they know it is spring. The dark green blanket is summer, the yellow and red one is fall, and the white one is winter. The Indians believe that when the clouds gather on the highest peak, the Warrior God is pleased with his people and is letting rain clouds slip from his pockets. They also believe that the Great Warrior God will rise again to help them in the fight against their enemies.
Jackee says that the people she met at the reservation were mainly teenagers and that many of them believed the legend. They told her that a time would come when the Ute awakens and they will reclaim the land that was stolen from them. The sleeping Ute is still very much revered among the elder Ute as well as the younger generations.
Smith, L. Michael. “UTE.” 1998. 23 Apr. 2008<www.utemountainute.com/legends.htm>.
The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 14, No. 55 (Oct. – Dec., 1901), pp. 252-28