Point of Beginning

Bittersweet history revisited in eastern Utah: Surveyors rededicate a marker from which the government drew boundaries for reservations

September 23, 2009
What a story a 4-inch bronze cap planted under the pavement of State Route 121 has to tell. From this spot, the U.S. government drew the boundaries of the 2-million acre Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, and later sold half the land to white settlers for $1.25 an acre. So much of the Uintah Basin's bittersweet pioneer history emanated from this point five miles east of the farm village of Neola, and it infused a rededication ceremony here Friday.


By Brandon Loomis
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 09/19/2009 01:36:41 PM MDT

What a story a 4-inch bronze cap planted under the pavement of State Route 121 has to tell.
From this spot, the U.S. government drew the boundaries of the 2-million acre Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, and later sold half the land to white settlers for $1.25 an acre.
 
So much of the Uintah Basin's bittersweet pioneer history emanated from this point five miles east of the farm village of Neola, and it infused a rededication ceremony here Friday.
 
"I've struggled with what to say today," Ute Historical Society member Larry Cesspooch said Friday before offering a rededication prayer of the marker, "because this is not a good thing for us [tribal members]. It's like showing you something that's always going to remind you what happened.
 
"But we can't change the past. We can only move forward."
 
Before using a preserved eagle wing to waft smoke from a sweetgrass rope in the four directions during his inaudible prayer, Cesspooch said he would pray for cooperation among peoples for a better future.
"You all have souls," he said. "Pray for the same thing."
 
For posterity to ponder » In the 20th century Utah paved Route 121, using the east-west line of the marker -- officially known as the 1875 Uinta Special Meridian -- because it already divided properties. That's when some surveyor stuck a nail in the asphalt marking the meridian below, and left

it for posterity to ponder. And on Friday, on a big-sky day that made plain why the original surveyors started their work from a point on these brushy heights in full view of the red bluffs miles distant, white and Indian Utahns alike commemorated a shared heritage.
 
About 100 members and guests of the Utah Council of Land Surveyors dedicated a roadside monument and placed a new brass cap on the actual meridian point through a new manhole in the westbound lane. ....
To read the rest of the story, click to www.sltrib.com/news/ci_13370054.