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BUENA VISTA – Collegiate Peaks Forum Series Lecture “Ute Land Religion: Remembering She-towitch and Chipeta
June 21 @ 7:00 pm| Free
Please join us for this enlightening, free lecture! The Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, in its 16th year, is a free lecture series with presentations in Leadville, Buena Vista, and Salida. For more information about the CPFS, visit www.collegiatepeaksforum.org.
Dr. Brandi Denison, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Florida, will present the Collegiate Peaks Forum Series Lecture “Ute Land Religion: Remembering She-towitch and Chipeta.” The lecture is free to the public and refreshments will be served.
Dr. Denison explores the intersection of land, race, and religion as well as gender, violence, memory, and theories of religion. She will share her research on She-towitch and Chipeta, Ute women who became the center of white Coloradans’ romantic ideals of Indians, thus contributing to the formation of a Western idealized spirituality based on the beauty of Colorado’s landscape. Ute ceremonial practices, such as the Bear Dance, Sun Dance, and other dances, served as a starting place for white Coloradans to cultivate an idealized spirituality that was self-consciously opposed to Christianity and formalized religious institutions. This became more pronounced after removal when many Coloradans began to value the Ute reverence of nature, which became a cultural mine for an emerging religious identity. She-towitch and Chipeta, as Ute women, stood as paragons of Indian virtue and spirituality. The two women emerged as representations of Indian moral and spiritual goodness because they both had legends that replicated the Pocahontas narrative, saving white men and women from the perceived brutality of Indian men. Additionally, in nineteenth-century Euro-American discourse, women were closely tied to natural religious expression. The representations of Chipeta and She-towitch drew on both cultural tropes, and contributed to a particular manifestation of memory of Ute Indians.
Dr. Denison is a Colorado native. Her M.A. in religious studies is from UC Boulder; her Ph.D., also in Religious Studies, is from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she also learned how to care about basketball. She is the author of several articles, reviews, and book chapters. Her book is Ute Land Religion in the American West, 1879-2009 (University of Nebraska Press, 2017).