North American Indians living mostly in Colorado and Utah, U.S. Their language belongs to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, and their name means hill people. Their traditional homeland included western Colorado, eastern Utah (whose name derives from Ute), and parts of New Mexico. They eventually joined into a loose confederation of seven bands. Until the 19th century, the Ute had no horses and lived in small family clusters, subsisting by food collecting. They were virtually indistinguishable from the Southern Paiute. When the Ute acquired horses in the early 1800s, they became organized as loose bands of hunters, often targeting livestock. After the Indian wars of 1864–70, most Ute were settled on reservations. Early 21st-century population estimates indicated more than 10,000 Ute descendants.