Day in the life of a "Coloradan"

We all know what it means to be a Coloradan, right? Or do we?

Over the centuries, so many people have called Colorado home. What was daily life like for an indigenous person, a homesteader, or a soldier?

Imagine adding one or more of these activities to your day—or, don't just imagine it, go ahead and try it! Step back in time and see what life was like for somebody else.

Wake up at dawn and start preparing food. You could make pemmican (a trail mix of jerky, seeds, and berries eaten by Ute people), homemade butter (made by shaking heavy cream vigorously in a small jar until it hardens), or natural tea from wild plants like peppermint, yarrow, or horehound. What foods are you able to prepare from scratch?

Set a timer and take a shower for one minute. This is about how much water an ancestral Puebloan would use for all activities in a single day (2.5 gallons). You can learn more in our Living West exhibit.

Time to hit the road. If you’re a nomad, soldier, or new resident, you’ll spend part of your day en route to somewhere else. Go for a hike and gather wild plants (if it’s allowed). Ride a horse and look for wild game. Board a train and write a letter to someone you miss. If you’re looking for a challenge, try packing your most important belongings into two suitcases, like you would’ve if you were a Japanese American interned at Amache. What would you leave behind? How would it feel to have to leave your home and lots of your most prized possessions?

Pause to enjoy a meal. Pretend you’re a Buffalo Soldier and eat your home-churned butter spread on a “hardtack” cracker. Drink horchata and eat biscochitos like your Hispano ancestors. Eat fresh peaches from the orchard or drink a homemade brew of some kind.

After refreshments, it’s back to work! Create a pot like an ancestral Puebloan would, using clay and crushed rock. You can also make a Hispano bulto by carving a bar of soap into a saint or other totem for worship. Repair something you own like a homesteader would, or barter a trade for something you need. What DIY activity do you like the most?

As the day winds down, get together with others. Play a 19th-century game of baseball. Listen to music played by a mariachi, bluegrass, or jazz band.

End the day with storytelling under the stars. Tell a Southern Ute creation story, tales from battles like Glorieta Pass, or firsthand accounts of El Movimiento. You could also tell your own story about what it was like experiencing your day in a different way.

If you liked these, be sure to join us for Colorado Day on August 1st! We’ll have activities, food, performances, exhibits, and more—and admission is free!

This blog was inspired by our education program Old Stories, New Voices, a camp that invites youth from urban Metro Denver and Pueblo to experience the San Luis Valley through the lens of its present and historical residents. You can learn more about all of our educational offerings here.