Updated Agust, 2016

Timpanogos Chief Tabby

Timpanogos Chief Tabby Circa 1789-1898


The Black Hawk War: Utah's Forgotten Tragedy

A History of the Snake-Shoshone Timpanogos Tribe

By Phillip B Gottfredson

As Americans, and citizens of Utah, when we look back on our history we want to find the heroes and stories of our ancestors that are inspiring. But the Mormon's Black Hawk War in Utah was brutal and bloody, one of the most inhumane wars in American history.

Sixty years have passed and the images are still vivid in my mind, the glass case, the dried decayed remains of a man in the case. father whispering to me "that's Black Hawk." It was a strange and eerie feeling for an eleven year old. I think it was the first time I had ever seen a decomposed human corpse, And that this display was in a small relic hall on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City didn't have any significance to me. Just that it was amusing and spooky for a young innocent mind. That was the first time I learned about Timpanogos Chief Black Hawk. I also remember father telling me when he saw first Black Hawk's remains on display in the window of a hardware store in Spanish Fork, that was after members of the Mormon Church had robbed his grave 1919. Father was about the same age as me then, eleven or so.

Depredations of the Timpanogos Tribe spanned some 21 years while under the leadership of seven brothers Sanpitch, Walkara, Arropeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, and Grospeen. The Black Hawk War was not a single event. I have documented over 150 bloody confrontations with Mormon settlers between 1849 and 1870. While historians focus on the years 1865-68 when Sanpitch's son Black Hawk launched his 14 month counteroffensive as being the time of the war. And some emphasize that the events leading up to the war were "complex," A member of the Timpanogos Tribe asked the question, "What choice were we given? To walk knee deep in the blood of our people, or give up our land and culture and accept whiteman's ways... it was a matter of honor and survival, why is that so complicated to understand?"

Before Mormon settlers arrived in Utah, which was Mexico in 1847, the Timpanogos population was thriving between 50,000 and 70,000. The Timpanogos were all one people before the Mormons came, but as Mormon's began killing them under the leadership of Brigham Young terrified Timpanogos ran from the Mormons in every direction seeking protection. "In the Hildago Treaty of 1848 the United States agreed to recognize Indian land holdings, and to allow Indian people to continue their customs and languages." (See The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo)

The Timpanogos Tribe had inhabited Utah territory for many centuries and were in sharp disagreement with Mormon settlers colonizing their ancestral homeland beginning in 1847. Timpanogos leader Wakara told interpreter M. S. Martenas "The Mormons when they first commenced the settlement of Salt Lake Valley, was friendly, and promised them many comforts, and lasting friendship—that they continued friendly for a short time, until they became strong in numbers, then their conduct and treatment towards the Indians changed—they were not only treated unkindly, but many were much abused." - Will Bagley Transcription

Chief Black Hawk's campaign only lasted just 14 months, he passed over in 1870 from being shot with a rifle while in battle and attempting to rescue a fellow warrior earlier at Gravely Ford June 10th, 1866. Complications developed from his wound causing his death. Black Hawk was Walkara's nephew. By 1870 when Black Hawk died, the Timpanogos population had decreased by a staggering 90% and more from violence, disease, and starvation. Just 1500 Timpanogos Indians remained alive when they were forced onto the Uinta Valley Reservation making them dependent upon the Church and United States government for food and shelter, and in the first winter more died from starvation because food supplies LDS Church leader Brigham promised them - never arrived. As victims of genocide Native peoples of Utah territory were subjected to deceit, torture, mass butchery, rape, and death, death to others, and death to animals and plants, to the waters and the land; men, women and children were left to wonder demoralized and dehumanized in a land they believed belonged to them for eternity, a people who in their final agony cried out "we are human too."

Being a great-grandson of Peter Gottfredson, author of one of the oldest and highly cited firsthand accounts of the Black Hawk war... the book Indian Depredations in Utah, I respectfully honor and admire the friendship that Peter had with Black Hawk and the Timpanogos during and following the War. Phillip B Gottfredson Black Hawk War Utah It was grandpa's book that ignited my interest in the War, and the need for me to know what his experience was like living among the Indian peoples. That led me on a life changing journey, and today, like my great-grandfather, I too live among the Timpanogos Tribe, learning firsthand of their life-ways and the tragic consequences of the war.

I am not a spokesperson for Native American Indians, any group or organization. I began researching the history of the war in 1990. My extraordinary journey into the indigenous world began in Washington DC at the Grand Opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004. It followed that the past decade would be a time of great honor and privilege for me to experience. I'm grateful to the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Tribe, Shoshone, Lakota, Makaw, Siletz, Choctaw, Appache, Maya, Washoe, Paiute, Goshute, Pahvant, Colorado Utes, Hopi, Pueblo, and Dine' Navajo, for sharing with me their version and interpretation of Christendom's arrival in the Americas. Don't think this to be a small matter reader. "No one has ever asked us," was their reply when I inquired "why have you never told your side of the story?" And I will bear witness to the fact that Native Indian peoples of Utah many live in absolute fear of Mormon vengeance to this day should they tell their side of the story. Whether their perception is true or not it is a testament to the extreme trauma Utah's Native Indian peoples have experienced that needs to be acknowledged and never forgotten. (Phillip B Gottfredson - Recipient of Indigenous-Day Award)

It is troubling that ethnic cleansing, taking land from the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Tribe, and Black Hawk's remains being put on public display is seen as amusing and trivial in Mormon accounts. The time has come where Native peoples of Utah need to tell their story and demand it be told accurately. History of the Native peoples of Utah does not end with the conquest. Native peoples are not simply the degenerate descendants of a fabulous civilization, as we are often led to believe. Discrimination that goes by ignored, people who say "its not my problem" are in fact contributing to the erosion of the human rights of everyone everywhere.

In my quest to learn the truth regarding the war, I have grown wary of Mormon scholars and writers who have published one-sided accounts for over a century and half. I am suspicious of what they wrote of the Indians which is often scant, brief and disingenuous. They did not ask or care what the Indians they studied had to say about their work, nor did they ask how they would analyze, interpret, or if they had their own version of the particular story they were writing about. This in spite of the fact Tribal leaders have invited historians to discuss their version of story to no avail. Historians are too much in the habit of discrediting Native peoples saying "Indian oral history is not always accurate." Well... Utah's history as it is written is far from accurate when half of the story is missing! It begs the question why the hell do we put up with the lies, accounts filled with omissions, ambiguities and half-truths? Do we really want these incredulous accounts in our schools and libraries? The lack of transparency regarding the thousands of Indian lives that were lost in the Black Hawk War demonstrates contempt for true Indian history which has been Utah's record over the past century and half.

As I learned firsthand from Native American Indians across the western United States my research led me to the Mayan in South America, I achieved a unique and rich insight into the sacred life-ways and interrelated history of the North and South American Indians over a broad geographic area in order to enhance my understanding of the indigenous peoples of Utah.

Tribal identity is absolutely crucial in our understanding of the Black Hawk War in Utah, yet it remains the least explored topic resulting in inaccuracies in our histories leading to baseless conclusions and false assumptions. Historians mistakenly identify the Snake-Shoshone Timpanogos Tribe as being Ute. This is a common mistake most every historian has made because Utah's history, as it is written, confuses the Utes with the Timpanogos as being the Tribe the Mormons first encountered when they arrived in Utah territory in 1847. It was not until the Removal Act of 1881, eleven years after the Black Hawk War ended, when the Colorado Utes were forced on to the Uinta Valley Reservation set aside by President Abraham Lincoln for the "Indians of Utah," namely the Timpanogos, on October 3, 1861.

Europeans coined the term "ute" which doesn't appear in history until about 1865, and began as a pseudonym of an Indian word u-tah-ats referring to all Indians that occupied Utah Valley. During the 1800's the word 'ute' had nothing to do with tribal affiliation, rather geographical location. The word 'ute' in time was extended to include the greater part of the Indians of Utah and Colorado, resulting in much confusion regarding Tribal affiliation. The Timpanogos who occupied Utah Territory were also referred to as the "Uintahs," "Uintah-ats," and the "Utahs," and in all cases are in fact the Snake-Shoshone Timpanogos. The Ute Tribe, as we know them today, was not formed until 1938 comprised of the seven bands of the Colorado Utes none of which were or are Snake-Shoshone Timpanogos Indians. Utes today prefer to call themselves 'Nuche' as the word "Ute" is not in their language. The Colorado Utes and Timpanogos are distintly different in origin, language and customs. A subject I will detail in future publications. - (Source: Timpanogos Tribe, Commission of Indian Affairs Annual Report 1865, O.H. Irish, Powell, and Department of the Interior.)

Moreover, in a failed attempt to bring an end to the Black Hawk War that was raging in all directions, Congress authorized Treaty Negotiations for the Indians of Utah Territory, and on June 8, 1865 the Spanish Fork Treaty was negotiated exclusively with the various bands of Timpanogos Tribe. However, the treaty would fail ratification as it bore the signature of Brigham Young, thus leaving intact the Uinta Valley Reservation. Congress declared "rather than associate with Brigham Young on such an occasion, they would have the negotiations fail; they would rather the Indians, than the Mormons, would have the land." Thus the Uinta Valley Reservation remained intact.

The significance of this treaty is that it was intended for the Timpanogos Tribe living on the Uinta Valley Reservation, whereas none of the seven Tribes of Colorado known today as "Ute" were named. One exception was the Yampa who were named but any claim they may have had was relinquished by them in the treaty of 1868.

Who are the Timpanogos? The answer to that question we find in The Dominguez Escalante Journal: Their Expedition Through Colorado Utah Arizona and New Mexico in 1776 , wherein Escalante describes having come in contact with aboriginal peoples who were Snake-Shoshoni who called themselves "Timpanogostzis," an Aztecan word meaning People of the Rock, whose leader was Turunianchi, who occupied a land that is now known as Utah. Dominguez named Mount Timpanogos, Timpanogos River (Provo River), Timpanogos Lake (Great Salt Lake) and Timpanogos Valley (Utah Valley) in honor of these people, an honor that remains to this day. Government maps that predate Mormon settlement support this fact.

Peter Gottfredson Black Hawk War UtahPeter Gottfredson, an emigrant from Denmark arrived in Utah territory in 1857 and lived among the Timpanogos during the war. Peter clearly points out in his book Indian Depredations in Utah that the Snake Shoshoni Timpanogos Tribe ruled the entire territory of Utah. Example: "It was with reluctance that the Timpanogos Indians who met the Higbee colony in March, 1848, permitted the first white settlement on Provo River, and that, too, in spite of the invitation previously extended to the colonists by the chiefs, Sowiette and Walker, to settle among their tribes and teach them how to become civilized." - Peter Gottfredson/Indian Depredations in Utah

There were seven brothers Walkara, Sowiette, Arropeen, Sanpitch, Ammon, Tobia (Tabby), and Grospeen. The war Chief Black Hawk was the son of Sanpitch I will discuss further on. Numerous accounts agree that the seven brothers were sons of Moonch, who was the son of Turunianchi, and were the leaders of the Timpanogos Tribe who are referred to as "the privileged blood." They ruled every Eutah clan and village along the Wasatch. (See Black Hawk War Facts)

Then in 1824, explorer Etienne Provost entered what is now Utah and reported having come in contact with a Snake-Shoshone Tribe (Timpanogos) living along the Timpanogos River (Provo River) and Timpanogos Lake. Provo City derives it's name from this early explorer.

The exact  origins of the Shoshone has been lost to time. Moreover, Oregon scholars have documented the Shoshone have occupied Oregon territory for some 20,000 years. The Shoshone eventually spread into areas we know today as Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. They continued to explore areas as far south as Mexico and Guatemala having come in contact with the Mayan. According to Maya and North American Indian scholars I interviewed, these ancient explorers returned to North America bringing with them sacred wisdom, dialects, and traditions of the southern regions. I am witness to the fact today the most sacred ceremonies of the the North American Indians many are similar to the Maya, and a prominent tribe in Arizona, I am told, actually speak Mayan in one of their ceremonies. Symbols found in pictographs in North America are recognized and regarded sacred by Maya peoples.

The Shoshone were first called the Chickimec (the Dog People) then there were three divisions, the Chickimec became the Nokoni, the Aztec, and Hopi (Moki). The Nokoni became the Shoshoni Nation which split into four bands, the Snake, Bannock, Comanche and Paiute. The Timpanogos descend from the Snake. Early explorers referred to the Timpanogos as the Eutahs. The term "Eutah" derives from an Arapaho word E-wu-ha-wu-si meaning "people who use grass or bark for their lodges." All Indians living in grass lodges or bark structures would fall into this category. The shortened version Ewuha or Eutah are terms used by early trappers and explorers who traveled the Utah area when referring to the Native peoples they encountered who spoke the Snake-Shoshone language.

The Timpanogos were deeply connected to the land of their ancestors. They were deeply connected to the beauty that surrounded them, majestic mountains, lakes and streams. They were deeply connected to the plants in all their endless forms and uses. They were deeply connected to maintaining a harmonious relationship with the animals and all living things. They understood and respected these things as sacred gifts from a greater power. They were neither "savage" nor "heathens" rather a prosperous, and deeply spiritual civilization. For the Timpanogos the war was never about possessions, the land was their mother, nourishing all her children, it belonged to everyone. It was about honor, honoring the sacred. To this I further say if you must judge them, do so by their own standards.

NATIVE PROTOCOLS AND LIFE-WAYS: Shoshone communities were based upon true democracy. Protocols and ethics are religiously followed. No one person was above all others. Every individual was respected equally. Family and community were inseparable and cohesively bound together in an environment of Honesty, Love, Courage, Truth, Wisdom, Humility, and Respect. Even animals and all things Creator created were seen by Native peoples as having a purpose, and each possessing special gifts and talents. When decisions were made within Native communities everyone had to be in agreement before action was taken. Within the communities each family took on particular roles, for example medicine people, warriors, weavers, hunters and gatherers etc. were the responsibility of individual families respectfully. Elders, who were the old and wise, they had the greatest influence in the community. They were the spokespersons, teachers and keepers of wisdom.

And so it was that for non-Indians, as the whiteman encountered Indian peoples they were often confused by Indian ways. At times white's would assume an individual who spoke on behalf of a tribe was the "Chief." Leadership in Native communities was situational. Individuals were asked by the tribe to lead them according to the situation, the persons experience and ability. Today most Indian tribes are governed by elected Councils and Committees.

To further our understanding of the war we must not ignore it's legacy. Native peoples of Utah today will argue that the war has never ended, as depredations of Indians peoples continue while they struggle for justice, and equality. The federal government has a fiducial responsibility bound by treaty to provide protection to the Native peoples from the State, and is a trustee of Indian property, yet our government has yet to honor fully the 370 ratified treaties made in good faith. And Utah's treatment of it's Indian peoples has been absolutely shameful.

For Mormons the war was about taking possession of the land for the riches therein. They ignore the fact that the Native peoples are a sovereign entity, and that inherent sovereignty is the cornerstone of Indian law. Inherent sovereignty predates New World discovery. The inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America has never been overturned. This and the fact the 10th District Court recently ruled in favor of the Uinta Valley Reservation saying the State of Utah has no jurisdiction what-so-ever and warned the State with sanctions if they didn't comply.

The Legacy of the Black Hawk War in Utah begins with no reconciliation with Utah's Native peoples. This remains an issue for both sides, as people continue to struggle with the harsh realities of a war that took place over 150 years ago. For generations many live in fear of the Mormons should they speak the the truth of the atrocities of the past and present. For many generations Native peoples were afraid to say what tribe they belong to.

The Black Hawk War all but destroyed the Timpanogos Tribe, followed by extreme poverty, poor education, corrupt lawyers and politicians, decades of time and tens-of-thousands of dollars spent on Federal Recognition as a Tribe; it's a miracle they have survived at all. People say, "We have given the Indians every opportunity to succeed..." I have been living with Native peoples, I can tell you we have given them every opportunity to fail.

Native American Indians don't get payments from the government. According to the Bureau Of Indian Affairs (BIA) "No individual is automatically paid for being Indian. The Federal Government may pay a Tribe or individual for damages for losses resulting from treaty violations, for encroachments on Indian lands, for past or present wrongs, income from their lands and resources, as their resources are held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior." (See Legacy Of The Black Hawk War)

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History Of The Black Hawk War

The Black Hawk War in Utah it was not a single event. There are some 150 bloody confrontations on record between the Mormons, U.S. Government and the Timpanogos Indian Nation between the years 1849-70. It is described by historian Will Bagley as "the frontier at it's very worst."

Dr. Daniel McCool"We took from them almost all their land—the reservations are just a tiny remnant of traditional tribal homelands. We tried to take from them their hunting rights, their fishing rights, the timber on their land. We tried to take from them their water rights. We tried to take from them their culture, their religion, their identity, and perhaps most importantly, we tried to take from them their freedom. And what is so amazing about this whole story is that we failed. We failed after hundreds of years of trying to take everything from American Indians. We failed to do that. They're still here and there's survival; that great saga of survival is one of the great stories of all mankind." - Dr. Daniel McCool University of Utah

"Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals."

"...it's very difficult to deal with what is truly a series of small atrocities. A border war. A war between neighbors and people who'd lived with each other and knew each other very well. A war between young men who'd grown up with a lot of Indian friends or a lot of Mormon friends, and that's what makes this history so painful that's why the Black Hawk war is so difficult for both Indians and Mormons to remember." - Historian Will Bagley

Black Hawk ProductionsMormon leader Brigham Young famously said "It's CHEAPER to feed them than to fight them." One can only imagine the cost of feeding some 70,000 people. He also told the Denver Rocky Mountain News paper "you can get rid of more Indians with a sack of flour than a keg of powder." He repeatedly admonished his followers to "Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals." (See Brigham Young Discourses)

How much Brigham Young spent on 'flour' for Indians is anyone's guess, but the costs of doing war is clearly spelled out in a 250 page document titled "Memorial of the Legislative Assembly of Utah" which was prepared by the Legislature of Utah in 1873 and sent to the United States Congress. It is a bill which Congress awarded reimbursement of one and a half million dollars for expenses incurred by Brigham Young's private militia, the Nauvoo Legion, for removal of the Indian population in Utah territory between the years 1865 and 1873. Putting that into perspective, a million and half dollars in 1873 would be somewhere around $32 million today.

"Now, Brigham Young officially proclaimed a policy of helping the Indians. But at the same time the Mormons are aggressively seizing every water hole, using up the game and the timber resources." - Historian Will Bagley

Complicating matters more, the Mormon church believed they had a divine obligation to convert Utah's ShivwitsAmerican Indians to Mormonism, according to church doctrine, and in so doing the so-called "loathsome" Indians would become a "white  and delightsome people" and would be forgiven of the sins of their forefathers.  (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 5:21-23) According to church doctrine, the nature of the dark skin was a curse, the cause was the Lord, the reason was because the Lamanites (Indians) "had hardened their hearts against him, (God)" and the punishment was to make them "loathsome" unto God's people who had white skins.

Meanwhile, during the 1850-60's when the Timpanogos refused to assimilate into Mormon culture, the Mormons’ response was to 'get rid' of them. What choice were the Timpanogos given when confronted with a Book of Mormon in one hand, and a gun in the other? (See Doctrine of Discovery)

The underlying cause of the Christian mind-set begins before Columbus arrived in the Americas, Christian Monarchs decreed that anyone who did not believe in the God of the Bible, or that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, were deemed "heathens," "infidels" and "savages". Christians were then entitled to commit all manner of depredations upon them. Indeed America was founded upon Christian principals; there was no separation of church and state by those who drew their power from Old Testament-inspired Manifest Destiny, saying: "This is the land promised by the Eternal Father to the Faithful, since we are commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures to take it from them, being idolaters, by reason of their idolatry and sin, to put them all to the knife, leaving no living thing save maidens and children, their cities robbed and sacked, their walls and houses leveled to the earth." - Pagans in the promised Land by Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute and author of "Pagans in the Promised Land."

"It was with reluctance that the Timpanogos Indians who met the Higbee colony in March, 1848, permitted the first white settlement on Provo River, and that, too, in spite of the invitation previously extended to the colonists by the chiefs, Sowiette and Walker, to settle among their tribes and teach them how to become civilized. It has also been stated that soon after Fort Utah was founded, Walker, according to Colonel Bridger and Mr. Vasquez began stirring up the Indians against the "Mormon" settlers. In this movement Walker was aided by another chief named Elk, variously styled Big Elk, Old Elk, etc., like himself a hater of the whites, and apparently quite as fond of fighting. It was with Big Elk and his band that the Provo settlers, in their first regular battle with the savages, had immediately to deal.

It was believed by Governor Young that Colonel Bridger and other mountaineers were at the bottom of much of the ill-feeling manifested by the red men, and they were incited to attack the "Mormon" settlements. The Governor, (Brigham Young), however, seemed to have confidence in Mr. Vasquez, who had opened a small store in Salt Lake City, and whose interests to that extent were identified with those of the settlers.

The Indians, at first so friendly with the Utah Valley colonists, began their depredations in that vicinity in the spring of 1849. Grain was stolen from the fields, cattle and horses from the herds, and now and then an arrow from an Indian bow would fall uncomfortably near some settler as he was out gather- ing fuel in the river bottoms." - Peter Gottfredson/Indian Depredations In Utah

So it follows that the Black Hawk War began in earnest on February 28, 1849 with the first of six massacres at Battle Creek in the foothills above Pleasant Grove, Utah. In the crisp morning air, on that cold February morning, shots echoed off the canyon walls. There lingered a thick gray cloud of gun powder; the frozen snow was now crimson red with fresh innocent Native blood. This day would mark the beginning of a 21 year battle with Mormons, the US Government, and the Timpanogos Indian Nation. (See How The Black Hawk War Began)

A company of 35 Mormon militia, under the leadership of Captain John Scott, left Salt Lake City in pursuit of a so called “renegade band of Indians” who were falsely accused of taking horses belonging to Mormon leader Brigham Young.

Lt. Colonel John Scott Black Hawk ProductionsAccording to reliable accounts, Brigham gave the order for Capt. Scott "to take such measures as would put a final end to their depredations in future." But, before morning they received orders from Salt Lake City stating that "the horses were not stolen..." Three times the company had received word the Indian's had not stolen Brigham Young's horses, they had only been moved to a different location to pasture." Still, not one of the thirty-five men turned back. (Stout Diary)

Scott, under orders from Brigham Young, he and his men met up with a Shoshoni Indian they referred to as Little Chief on the Provo River. Little Chief regretfully led Scott to an encampment of Timpanogos Indians who allegedly had been doing some stealing. Moreover, it seems unlikely Little Chief would have betrayed his people in this way, more likely threatened, he gave in. The trail took the company of soldiers to the mouth of a canyon above Pleasant Grove. Scott and his men split into four groups and surrounded the camp, and opened fire on the unsuspecting people sleeping there in their teepees.

It is said that the "battle" continued for a couple hours, perhaps, highly unlikely since most took shelter and were trapped in a nearby ravine, standing in freezing water, and they had only one gun, while the surrounding army pelted their victims with rocks. As they immerged from cover unarmed, troops shot them repeatedly. A Timpanogos man named Kone, unarmed, was shot in the back as he came out of his teepee. A brave girl about the age of 16 emerged from cover and pleaded with Capt. Scott not to harm her brother. Scott ordered her to bring her brother to him. Terrified of Scott she brought from the thicket her younger brother who bravely stood face to face with Scott and said, "Go away, what are you here for? Go away... you kill my father, my brother... for what? Go away, let us alone."

Black Hawk Productions"Joshua Terry, a pioneer of 1847, and a mountain man who married into an Indian tribe, once told the writer (Howard R. Driggs) that this Indian boy became the warring leader Black Hawk. When peace came, after the Black Hawk War of the later eighteen sixties, this Chief, Terry declared, told him that he was this same boy taken after the fight on Battle Creek. He could never understand why the white men had shot down his people. It put bitterness in his heart; and though he lived for some time with the white people, his mind was ever set on avenging the wrong. That is why he later made war against them." (Story of Old Battle Creek and Pleasant Grove, Utah, Howard R. Driggs, 1948)

In 1853 Timpanogos leader Walkara (Black Hawk's uncle) told interpreter M. S. Martenas, "He (Walkara) said that he had always been opposed to the whites set[t]ling on the Indian lands, particularly that portion which he claims; and on which his band resides and on which they Walkara Shoshoni/Ute Chief Black Hawk Productionshave resided since his childhood, and his parents before him—that the Mormons when they first commenced the settlement of Salt Lake Valley, was friendly, and promised them many comforts, and lasting friendship—that they continued friendly for a short time, until they became strong in numbers, then their conduct and treatment towards the Indians changed—they were not only treated unkindly, but many were much abused and this course has been pursued up to the present—sometimes they have been treated with much severity—they have been driven by this population from place to place—settlements have been made on all their hunting grounds in the valleys, and the graves of their fathers have been torn up by the whites." - STATEMENT, M. S. MARTENAS, INTERPRETER Great Salt Lake City, July 6 1853 Brigham Young Papers, MS 1234, Box 58, Folder 14 LDS Archives - Will Bagley Transcription

1855, January 29th, by now peoples of the Timpanogos Tribe had scattered in every direction no longer centrally located in Timpanogos Valley (Utah Valley). Walkara, a patriot, who had long defended his people and land, died at Meadow Creek, in Millard County. He was succeeded by his brother "Jake" Arropeen. Among his final words he admonished his tribe to live at peace with the settlers and not molest them. Scholars told me there is proof Wakara was poisoned to death. (See Wakara's history)

Within the twelve years that followed Brigham's militia in hand with U.S. Troops would commit the most hideous massacres in American history at Bear River, Circleville, Grass Valley, and Fort Utah. (See Videos)


The Man Mormons Called "Black Hawk"

Utah's famous 'Black Hawk' was born circa 1825 into a royal bloodline, a family of legendary Timpanogos leaders going back centuries in time. Whether that being his Indian name or not is currently disputed. He was a nephew of both Wakara and Tabby. Black Hawk was a War Chief and led under the direction of his uncle Tabby.

It is well documented that Black Hawk was a compassionate man. He was resistant to killing, and only then in self-defense, that being consistent with traditional beliefs of the Timpanogos. Conditioned by his own personal torment, having witnessed his people becoming increasingly ill from smallpox and measles, and seeing the slow agonizing death from starvation - was unbearable. Mormons had taken all their game, making it ever more difficult traveling greater distances to find food to support their large population. Often Black Hawk went without food himself to help his people. Often he called upon Great Spirit for guidance, and to make peace with the spirit world. But, the hellish terror of his people's suffering was overwhelming as he saw their hearts fill with hopelessness and despair.

There were some three or This is not Utah's Black Hawk!more Indians the whites referred to as Black Hawk in Utah history. There does not exist any known photo of Black Hawk. The photo to the right here is not Utah's Black Hawk, it originates from the Smithsonian, it is a photo of a drawing of a Kiowa Apache the whites also called "Black Hawk", the name is not in the Apache language. In the 1929 Indian Census Roll conducted by H. N. Tidwell there appears a Black Hawk born in 1851, and reported as being a member of the Ute Tribe of Colorado, again not Utah's Black Hawk.

Black Hawk, of the Black Hawk War of Utah, became a courageous warrior and brilliant leader who gave his very life for his people. A humble man tormented by meaningless deaths of his family and kin - fought for peace to his dieing day. A man who's bones were dug up and disgracefully put on public display by the Mormon Church for amusement. I remember as a child, accompanied by my parents, I saw the mortal remains of Black Hawk and a Indian woman with a child at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. (See Looting of Black Hawk's Grave)

Born at Spring Lake, Utah circa 1825, Black Hawk was bright and intelligent with a good sense of humor. He was from his childhood groomed to become a leader honoring the traditions of his Shoshoni ancestors. His charismatic personality and natural leadership ability made him likeable among both his own people and the whites. As young man, he was educated in Jesse Williams Fox's school in Manti which implies he learned to speak English, could read and write and learned mathematics.

Then in his twenties Black Hawk witnessed with extreme agony the senseless murders of his family at Battle Creek, and the gruesome beheading of his kin at Fort Utah by Mormon militia. Then in 1863, 593 Shoshone men women and children were brutally massacred at Bear River. As the Indians tried desperate measures to fight off the U.S. Army, the soldiers seemed to lose all sense of control and discipline. After most of the men were killed, and many of the children were also shot and killed. In some cases, soldiers held the feet of infants by the heel and "beat their brains out on any hard substance they could find." Those women who refused to submit to the soldiers were shot and killed. After the slaughter ended, soldiers went through the Indian village raping women and using axes to bash in the heads of women and children who were already dying of wounds. Leaders Bear Hunter (Indian name Camwick brother of SACAJAWEA) and Lemhi both were killed. Two years later, following botched peace efforts in 1865 at Manti between leader Arropeen and John Lowry, Arropeen resigned his decade long leadership to his brother Tabby who accepted the challenge. Tabby, the youngest of the seven brothers, was honorably chosen by his tribe as chief leader of the Timpanogos. Black Hawk was chosen by Tabby and led his warriors in battle.

In 1866 Utah's Mormon population was approaching 200,000 people when Black Hawk began his champaign against the atrocities and seemingly endless encroachment of Mormon settlers on his peoples aboriginal land.

Black Hawk, under the leadership of Tabby, unleashed a fury upon the Mormons they hadn't seen nor anticipated. Black Hawk assembled a thousand or more warriors from his communal tribe with support from neighboring allies, among them the Colorado Utes, Lakota, Dine' and Apache. Over the coarse of just 15 months they demonstrated incredible skill as they commanded a formidable counter-attack that effectively held back Mormon expansion into their most valued homeland in central and southern Utah territory. Because Black Hawk understood Mormon economics, he managed to undermine their economy by flooding the market with stolen Mormon beef and horses causing cattle markets to collapse, and the abandonment of some 70 Mormon villages. Some say he nearly succeeded in driving the Mormons out of Utah.

Then in June of 1866, Black Hawk was shot during battle at Gravely Ford near Richfield while rescuing a fellow warrior White Horse. In the month following Black Hawk was shown kindness when he received food and medicine from his long time friend Mormon Bishop Canute Peterson. During the same month Black Hawk received word that his brother named Mountain had been wounded during an ambush at Little Diamond above Spanish Fork. Saddened by Mountains' near death experience, when Black Hawk was well enough to travel he visited his uncle Tabby camped north of Heber, and convinced him to end the war. Black Hawk and other Timpanogos leaders had to make tough decisions as they came to grips with a heartbreaking reality - they were just simply out numbered.

In the month of August, 1867, Black Hawk with humility and resolve made an extraordinary gesture of good faith. Saying he and his people were tired of war, he handed Indian agent Franklin Head his knife and asked him to cut off his long hair demonstrating his commitment to end the bloodshed. Black Hawk didn't surrender as historians would have us believe, the following three years the leader dedicated his efforts to total peace with the white man.

Larry Cesspooch member of the Ute Tribe."It was white history that wrote it -- that he (Black Hawk) surrendered. And no, a man like that don't surrender. He'll come to terms with reality. I'm done, we're done, we, we did what we could, we're done. But it gets written differently... And like any of us, I think you get to a point where it's like any war, you get in and you do what you've got to do. And maybe there's a family there, and you killed, killed their kids -- you, as a human, that thing we all are, is going to at least make you say I'm sorry." - Larry Cesspooch

Three years passed, and days prior to his death in 1870, Black Hawk, now deathly ill from his wound, he still continued his peace efforts, my great-grandfather called it "Black Hawk's mission of peace." Black Hawk contributed significantly to ending the war. Consistent in character with Timpanogos teachings, once again he tried to get along with the white man. Peter Gottfredson, my great grandfather, saw the suffering of his friend Black Hawk and was deeply disturbed as he witnessed the consequences of man's inhumanity to man. A people Peter had grown up with and had shared moments of joy and companionship.

He had fought the good fight, and he knew he was about to die, before Black Hawk passed over in 1870, described as gaunt and skeleton like, he chose to travel 180 agonizing miles by horse, and he visited every Mormon village to apologize, taking responsibility for the pain and suffering he and his warriors had caused. Thinking not of himself, putting the well-being of his people first - Black Hawk made one last appeal. He spoke to the settlers saying, "you broke your promises, stolen our land, killed our children, men and women, and spread disease among my people." He then made a plea to the settlers to end the bloodshed. "You didn't see that happening on the part of the settlers. So it took a greater man to do such a thing. And that's what is overlooked in the victors’ accounts."

Yes it's true, Black Hawk stole Mormon cattle and horses by the thousands. And here's the flip side to that coin, our Mormon ancestors stole over 250 thousand square miles of occupied Timpanogos land and never gave them a red cent for any of it. Five million acres was set aside by executive order in 1861. On May 5th 1864 congress establishes the Uinta Valley Reservation "for the exclusive use and occupancy of the Indians of Utah territory" the Timpanogos Tribe. Today the 10Th District Court ruled the Uinta Valley Reservation remains intact, and warned the State of Utah they have no jurisdiction over that land what-so-ever. "They don't listen, they continue to take our resources, children, whatever they deem they want" Tribal members told me.

The so called "treaties" made between the Mormons and Utah's Native Tribes had no legal basis, only the Federal Government had the power to negotiate treaties, therefore they were only agreements, divisive at best, of which Church leader Brigham Young failed to honor even one. (See Story of Timpanogos Leader Black Hawk)


"Bones of Black Hawk on Exhibition L.D.S. Museum"

"Without conscience or remorse church leaders without a lick of civility made no apologies"


Black Hawk Productions Deseret News 1919On September 20, 1919, an article appeared on the front page of the Deseret Evening News paper with the headline, "Bones of Black Hawk on Exhibition L.D.S. Museum." Within the article, the writer explains that first, the remains of Black Hawk had been on public display in the window of a hardware store in downtown Spanish Fork, Utah. Then Benjamin Guarded, the man in charge of the L.D.S. Museum, acquired the remains for public display on Temple Square. For decades, the remains of Black Hawk, and those of an Indian woman and a child, were on display in the Mormon church museum on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

They say there are no known photos of Black Hawk, there's one. and disrespectfully it appeared on the front page of the Deseret News Paper for amusement. Just 49 years had passed since Black Hawk had been laid to rest in 1870 Black Hawk Productions William E. Croff.at Spring Lake, Utah, when members of the Mormon Church looted of his grave. Accompanying the article is a photo of William E. Croft standing in the open grave, grinning ear to ear, while holding the skull of Black Hawk. While the living descendants of Black Hawk were outraged and heartbroken, their voices fell on deaf ears. Seemingly without conscience or remorse church leaders without a lick of civility made no apologies, in spite of a federal law passed in 1906 called the Graves Protection Act. Descendents of Black Hawk had no real legal recourse until the enactment of the National American Graves Protection Reparation Act, or NAGPRA, passed in 1994.

The news article read: "To Whom It May Concern: At my leisure moments I would hunt for the spot where Black Hawk was buried and one day one of the miners, William E. Croft reported what he supposed to be Black Hawk's grave. This started an investigation and Mr. Croft along with Lars L. Olsen and myself uncovered the remains of Black Hawk, which were buried in a large quartzite slide. The first article we saw was a china pipe, which, was laying upon the top of his head. Then we discovered the saddle, the remains of the skeleton, portion's of his horses bridle that had been buried with him; sleigh bells, ax, bucket, beads, part of an old soldier coat with the brass buttons still intact. All of these were removed very carefully, and for safety deposited them with the Spanish Fork Co-op where they were exhibited for several days. Subsequently at the suggestion of Commander J. M. Westwood I secured these remains and conveyed them to the L.D.S. Church Museum on temple block, suggesting that they should be placed on exhibition there and preserved. – Ben H. Bullock." ( See Deseret Evening News Paper 1919)

Black Hawk's remains were again reburied in the year 1996. It took an act of Congress, the help of National Forest Service archeologist Charmian Thompson, and the humanitarian efforts of a Boy Scout Shane Armstrong to find and rebury the remains of Timpanogos leader Black Hawk at Spring Lake, the place of his birth. Shane Armstrong, he told me in an interview that he felt it in his heart he should find Black Hawk's remains, at the age of 14. Inspired at the age of 14, Shane on his own makes contact with Thompson. Together they locate the lost remains of Black Hawk in a basement storage room, in a box, on Brigham Young University campus. (See EXAMINATION OF CHIEF BLACK HAWKS PHYSICAL REMAINS by NAGPRA)

Burial arrangements, coffin, and headstone were donated by citizens of Spring Lake, many who's ancestors fought against Black Hawk during the war. Ironically the grave site is on property owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the Mormons.


Copyright Black Hawk Productions Mary Meyer at Black Hawk Grave

Black Hawk's Headstone - Spring Lake, Utah



Credits: My thanks to Mary Meyer Timpanogos Tribe (above photo), Historian Will Bagley, Historian Dr. Daniel McCool University of Utah, Forrest Cuch (Ute), Historian Dr. Floyd O'Neil, Loya Arrum (Ute), Lacee Harris, Vanita Taveapont (Ute), "Lakota Ann" Cutler, Larry Cesspooch (Ute), Historian Robert Carter, Educator Bryon Richardson, Charmian Thompson (Archeologist National Forest Service), Shane Armstrong (Eagle Scout), and Marva Loy Eggett. Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute, Peter d'Errico, Legal Studies Department, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, the George S. Deloris Dori Eccles Foundation, and the Utah State Division of Indian Affairs. Marriott Special Collections Brigham Young University. The Living Descendents of Black Hawk, Walkara, Sowiette, Arropeen, Sanpitch, Ammon, Tobia (Tabby), and Grospeen. And last but not least, humble gratitude to Ron Hill Imagery, and my many friends, good people and organizations for their kindness and generosity. (See also Source Material).

*Historic Photographs by Permission From: University of Utah Marriott Library Special Collections and The Utah State Historical Society*

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