Ute Indian Prayer, Burial and Bent Trees –
Custer County, Colorado

tree #04
Two burial trees noted by their coming straight up from the ground (birth), turning horizontally for a foot or more (life), and then turning vertically (heaven). Usually denotes the passing of an Indian chief or medicine man nearby. Note: it would probably take several generations tending the short-lived hemp ropes used to make these modifications over decades of time. There are many trees that show partial modifications that apparently were started but not tended to completion.

tree #05
Same two burial trees as in previous photo above with a third one that also includes a bow in the vertical shaft.

tree #12
Another burial tree within 100' of those in the photos above.

tree #08
A few more feet to the south there's a set of three burial trees all pointing north.

tree #11 & 09
Some hundreds of feet to the west is a set of two burial trees. Note than in the "A" tree the heavenly pointing shaft doesn't quite come back over the birth shaft while in the "B" tree the heavenly shaft comes back past the birth shaft, plus has a modified twisted branch at the "B2" point, the meaning of which is unknown. Overall, the "B" tree has a rather fanciful, delicate form.

tree #06
Nearby, is this grouping of prayer trees. The "A" tree is a compound split example, "B" is probably a burial tree with a bow bending heaven shaft, "C" is a burial tree, and "D" seems to be an attempt at a burial tree modification that was left incomplete.

tree #30
A double split creating a triple trunk and the dominate shaft on the right is similarily double split about 20' up creating a complex sturcture. This is visible out the windows of our livingroom.

tree #38
An example of compound splitting of the trunk(s) for a prayer tree. In almost every case of Ute trunk splitting, the two or more shafts are nearly identical in diameter which is not typical when occurring naturally from the result of damage from a deer or other animal biting off the growing tip. In a natural case, the tree responds with a new branch(es) just below the damage and the new shaft(s) arc quickly to the vertical with the stub of the damaged shaft remaining.

tree in back yard
This double split, single split (of the central shaft) combination prayer tree is in our backyard where we can see it coming and going to the garage. Note the similar size of the three shafts at ground level and the straight side-by-side alignment which is indicative of human origin rather than occurring naturally.

tree #10
A closely grouped pair of split prayer trees. The "B" tree also has some parallel bowing of the trunks.

tree #13
A line of seven split prayer trees in a straight line.

tree #13
Two multi-split prayer trees: the one on the left has two at the "A" and "B" points, while the right tree has three at the indicated locations.

tree #14
This split tree has the classic "harp" shape in that the equal size shafts mirror each other by bowing outward then curving inward before continuing in the heavenly direction.

tree #15
This burial tree grouping of three is located in the northwest corner of the Cuerno Verde Subdivision. Trees B and C are mirrorwise of each other on a north/south line, plus B has two burial bends, which is very unusual.

tree #15a
From the west, the view through the mirrorwise bural trees appears to be a portal to view the split prayer tree (also called a yoke tree) to the east. Plus, tree E appears to have an unnatural set of bends in its trunk.

tree #16
Also on the northwest corner of Cuerno Verde Subdivision, is this grouping of four different types of prayer trees. Tree A has a yoke split with the two branches in a parallel arc. Tree B has a yoke split high up with the close-by classic burial tree C. Tree D has a very unusual cluster of seven more or less equal branches creating a bush-like profile to this Ponderosa Pine.

tree #16a
The yoke split in tree B is visible from this angle along with tree C's partially wrapping around branch.

tree #16b
Tree D's bush-like profile with a close-up of the branch cluster below.

tree #16c

tree #17
On the north end of Wykagyl Trail in Cuerno Verde, there's a driveway lined with burial trees, three of which are shown here.

Visit this link for more information: What's with those bent trees?
This 16-minute video describes the various prayer trees:

Remainder of this page is under development, check back for additional future photos.


tree #00

tree #00