The documented history of northern Colorado is a challenge for even the most determined researched because, in general terms, historic records can be placed in two very broad categories: Written materials and created image. Because none of the native peoples along the Cache la Poudre River had a written language prior to the arrival of the Euro-American, written records are not available.
Prior to 1800 most written records were the records created by Spanish government officials or religious personnel, each undertaking the task with an agenda, usually of a political nature.
Because the Spanish presence in what is now Colorado only reached to southern Colorado few of the documents produced include reference to the South Platte River or the Cache la Poudre River.
Additional records created by French travelers are also deficient where northern Colorado is concerned: French trappers who were in the Poudre Valley in the early 1800s left few records of their journeys and efforts.
Along with other reasons this explains why ethno-history in the Cache la Poudre area has been insufficiently documented:
• The Cache la Poudre River was overlooked or missed by many early explorers. For example, Lewis and Clark and the Pike expeditions did not come close to the area, and later contacts with the area lacked proper record-keeping.
• The timeframe between the initial settlement by Euro-Americans on the Cache la Poudre River and the removal of Native Americans was relatively short – about forty years. The abruptness caused a deficiency in the preservation of history.
• After the arrival and establishing of settlements by Euro-American a disruption of Native American lifestyle was unavoidable. For example, as noted by historian Ansel Watrous in his extensive history of Larimer County in the early 1910s, by 1861 almost all of the fertile bottom land along the Cache la Poudre had been claimed by settlers. The change in land use led to Native Americans leaving for better lands and it also caused bison herds to move elsewhere.
• Interest in exploiting the region led to the discarding of recording history. By the time a man named Norman Fry arrived to the Fort Collins area in 1889 stories about Antoine Janis, Native Americans, and others had been told and retold until they had become mere gossip instead of valuable historic fact.
• Despite the establishing of Colona (Laporte) in the late 1850s and Camp Collins – which would become Fort Collins – in 1862, no significant historical events transpired in either location and no one thought to record events that would prove worthwhile information later. Additionally, the lack of attacks by Native Americans, the lack of battles, and the lack of treaty meetings along the Cache la Poudre River resulted in a lack of proper record keeping. It was until the water wars of the 1870s between Fort Collins and Greeley, CO. did the area, specifically the Poudre Valley, gain notoriety, providing motivation for documenting the events of the day.