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Fremont Culture

a drawing of fremont life

Interesting people!

Rugged mesas and cliffs rising above a valley

Some of the terrain in which the Fremont people successfully lived. This is Range Creek Canyon, Utah.

Utah (and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho) can lay claim to a very unique culture that began to develop about 2,500 years ago.

The people called Fremont Indians by archaeologists lived across much of northern Utah (as far south as Cedar City)—often in rugged places. But they knew how to make the most of where they lived. Depending on the situation, they hunted and gathered or they farmed, or they did both.

What was life like?

The “Fremont” culture was diverse, made up of lots of different groups. Sometimes the people lived in small scatted groups, and sometimes they built large villages. They used both pit houses and houses built of rock and mud.

petroglyphs of mountain sheep and other designs

Petroglyphs (rock art made by chipping the design) made by Fremont, in Range Creek.

Many of the Fremont grew corn and beans. When they hunted, it was often with a bow and arrow, a technology that helped them efficiently kill antelope, mountain sheep, deer, and other animals.

Around 1,000 years ago, the unique Fremont culture began to disappear. People stopped farming in the Utah area, for instance.

Why?

Life may have become tough because of climate change, so they may have had to change their way of life and become hunters and gatherers.

But also, new people—the ancestors of the Utes, Paiutes, and Shoshones—had moved in to Fremont territory. The Fremont may have been killed or forced to leave, or they may have become absorbed into these new groups.

Or maybe parts of all these three things happened!

What did they leave behind?

archaeologists and volunteers excavating

Archaeologists and volunteers excavate a Fremont campsite at Mushroom Springs, on Antelope Island.

Fremont people left distinct rock art on cliff walls. They also made a unique kind of basket, and they made gray coiled pottery. Like other groups, they left behind grinding stones, arrow points, and other stone tools. Some special Fremont artifacts are little clay people figurines.

Read more about the Fremont culture.