Updated May, 2017 - Online since 2001.
 

 

The Black Hawk War; Utah's Forgotten Tragedy by Phillip B Gottfredson

Phillip B Gottfredson

 

Indian Depredations in Utah Peter Gottfredson

 

Welcome to Phillip B Gottfredson's website The Black Hawk War; Utah's Forgotten Tragedy a history of Utah's Indian wars between the Mormons, Ute and Snake-Shoshone-Timpanogos Tribes.

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 for Native Indian peoples, one of the most inhumane wars in Native American history.

As a student of the Black Hawk War in Utah for over 16 years learning from Utah's Native Indians and, living with the direct descendants of notorious Chiefs Black Hawk, Wakara, Tabby, and Arropeen, it follows a very different story of those troubled times emerges. And it becomes clear the truth of the Mormon's war on the Timpanogos Indians has been divisively buried beneath a veneer of revised history, folklore replete with religious dogma and myth. Which only confirms one's suspicion of there being efforts made to justify man's inhumanity to man. Shamefully, Christendom's arrival in the Americas as seen through the eyes of Utah's Indian peoples has been deliberately ignored and left out of the history books. Why? If we leave out the Native peoples side of the story then our history is based on half-truths. What is it that the historians for the LDS Church don't want us to know?

Who are the Timpanogos? In the year 1765. A Spanish explorer named Juan Rivera who had made two trips into western Colorado interacting with Paiute tribes, in search of “the bearded ones.”

Escalente Domingus journal of 1776 “extolls the virtues of the villa de Timpanogos which was the home of the bearded Timpanogos whom the fathers met at Utah Lake in what they... believed to be the old province of Teguayo.” Fathers Domingus and Escalante openly discussed the elements of the evolved from the legend of Teguayo in their briefings...letters... (regarding) the bearded Indians.”

In the Dominguez Escalante Journal: Their Expedition Through Colorado Utah Arizona and New Mexico in 1776, Escalante describes having come in contact with aboriginal peoples who were Snake-Shoshoni who called themselves "Timpanogostzis," an Aztecan-Shoshonian word meaning rock water carriers (referring to salt), whose leader was Turunianchi, who who was the father of Moonch, who ccupied a land that is now known as Utah.

Moonch had seven sons Wakara, Sowette, Sanpitch, Grospeen, Tabby, Arropeen, and Ammon.

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.

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.

My great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson, an emigrant from Denmark arrived in Utah territory in 1857, when Wakara was alive, 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. Peter wrote: "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."

To day the Timpanogos Tribe consisting of some 900 people reside on the Uinta Valley Reservation located in the south-eastern part of Utah.

1847 is when the Mormons first arrive in Utah territory. The Timpanogos Tribe was under the leadership of seven brothers namely Sanpitch, Wakara, Arropeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, Grospeen and eventually Black Hawk who was the son of Sanpitch. These seven legendary leaders were referred to as "the privileged blood." They ruled every Eutah clan and village along the Wasatch.

NOTE:, Historians mistakenly identify the Snake-Shoshone Timpanogos Tribe as being Ute. This is a common mistake most all historian's have made. The Utes, during the time of the Black Hawk War, occupied their ancestral land in Colorado. The Timpanogos are not from Colorado. The Colorado Utes and Timpanogos are distinctly different in origin, language and customs...See Timpanogos and Ute Tribe origins .

In my quest to learn the truth regarding the Indian Tribes of Utah and the battles they fought with the Mormons, I devoted all my time over the past decade and half researching State archives, libraries, and history books. I soon grew wary of Mormon scholars and writers who published a plethora of one-sided accounts for over a century and half. I became 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. I found that Tribal leaders have invited historians to discuss their version of the story to no avail. As a consequence accounts filled with omissions, ambiguities and half-truths have become standard. "Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth" and Utah's history is well-provided with inaccuracies. Moreover, 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.

Accommodation history has long been a practice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "The Accommodation History advocated by Elders Benson and Packer and actually practiced by some LDS writers is intended to protect the Saints, but actually disillusions them and makes them vulnerable... The tragic reality is that there have been occasions when Church leaders, teachers, and writers have not told the truth they knew about difficulties of the Mormon past, but have offered to the Saints instead a mixture of platitudes, half-truths, omissions, and plausible denials..." - D. Michael Quinn 1981

Timpanogos Chief Tabby Circa 1789-1898The Black Hawk War, lasting some seven years from the winter of 1865 into the fall of 1872 when Daniel Miller was the last man killed, was the outcome of 20 long agonizing years of Mormon's relentless impingement upon Native peoples inherent sovereignty that began in the winter of 1849 with the Battle Creek Massacre. Within the years that followed Brigham's militia in hand with U.S. Troops would commit some of the most hideous massacres in Native American history: 1850 Fort Utah, 1857 Mt. Meadows Massacre, 1863 Bear River Massacre, 1865 Grass Valley Massacre, and 1866 Circleville Massacre. (Also See Videos)

Psychological shock and severe distress spanning more than two decades was for the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Tribe of Utah far outside  their usual range of experience. The senseless deaths of thousands of Utah's Indian peoples men, woman and children, who's only crime was being indigenous to the Americas, was a horrific tragedy that has been forever indelibly etched upon the minds and hearts of their descendants. Utah's Black Hawk War was the end of a sacred time, a tragedy for Native American Indians that should be remembered and never forgotten.

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.

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.

Victims of genocide, Native Indians of Utah territory had to be resilient as they were repeatedly subjected to deceit, torture, slavery, mass butchery, rape, and death, 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."

It's when you go deep into Utah's Indian history you see there is far more to the story. Live on the reservations you realize that the injustices Utah's Indians suffer didn't end with the war as we are led to believe. Today State, institutions, and corporations continue to exsert their unwanted dominance and in most all cases illegally.

Peter GottfredsonBeing a great-grandson of Peter Gottfredson, author of one of the oldest and highly cited firsthand accounts of the Utah 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 Indians during and following the War. 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 like my great-grandfather, I too lived with the Timpanogos Tribe, Shoshoni, and spent considerable time with the Utes and many others I have listed below, learning firsthand of their life-ways and the tragic consequences of the war.

Drawn in by curiosity I began researching the history of the war on my own 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, Apache, Maya, Washoe, Paiute, Goshute, Pahvant, Colorado Utes, Hopi, Pueblo, and Dine' Navajo, and many more 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 remembered regardless of what happened. -Phillip B Gottfredson is a Recipient of Utah's Indigenous-Day Award

Sixty years have passed and the images are still vivid in my mind, the glass case, the dry decayed remains of a man in the case, father whispering to me "that's Chief Black Hawk". It was a strange and eerie feeling for an eleven-year-old. It was the first time ever I had 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 at the time. That was the first time I learned about Timpanogos Chief Black Hawk. I also remember father telling me when he first saw Black Hawk's remains, the Chief was on display in the window of a hardware store in Spanish Fork, that was after members of the Mormon Church had robbed his grave in 1919. Father was about the same age as me then, eleven or so.

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

"Without conscience or remorse church leaders without a lick of civility have 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 Goddard, 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. MORE...

Timpanogos leader Wakara told interpreter M. S. Martenas In 1853 "He (Wakara) 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 - sent to me by Will Bagley

The Timpanogos Tribe was under the leadership of seven brothers namely Sanpitch, Wakara, Arropeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, Grospeen and eventually Antonga "Black Hawk" who was the son of Sanpitch. These seven legendary leaders were sons of Moonch, who was the son of Turunianchi, and were referred to as "the privileged blood." They ruled every Eutah clan and village along the Wasatch. (See Timpanogos and Ute Tribe Origins)

The Black Hawk War: We begin with the winter of 1864-65, when "a small band of Indians was camped near Gunnison, Sanpete County (Utah). It is said that they contracted Smallpox, and that many died. The Indians seemed to think that the white people were to blame in some way for this and were threatening to kill the whites and steal their horses and cattle in an attempt to get them to leave. Arrangements were consequently made for a meeting between the Indians and the whites at Manti on the 9th of April, 1865, to talk over matters. This ten years after the death of Chief Wakara when Arropeen became Chief.

A number of prominent Timpanogos came to Manti. They met at Jerome Kempton's place (about four blocks south of town), and it appeared that an understanding would be arrived at, but a young Chief (Yene-wood) also known as Jake Arropeen (Wakara's brother) could not be pacified.

Peter Gottfredson, my great-grandfather wrote that "John Lowry, believed drunk at the time, told the Chief to keep quiet, when someone yelled, ‘look out he's getting his arrows!’ Lowry jerked the Chief (by his hair) off of his horse, and was about to abuse him, when some men stepped in and broke them up." Lowry stated, "I told him a time or two to stop and to permit me to finish my talk. Just then someone called out ‘lookout, he is getting his arrows!’ I rode up to him and turned him off his horse, and pulled him to the ground. The bystanders interfered and we separated. In those early days it was at times imperative that harsh measures should be used... We had to do these things, or be run over by them. It was a question of supremacy between the white man and the Indian."-Indian Depredations in Utah - Peter Gottfredson

John Lowry made it clear that it was "a matter of supremacy" and that it was the whiteman who had the right to run over the Indian. Not surprising he would see it that way when in 1850 Mormon apostle George A. Smith, a cousin to Church Founder Joseph Smith jr., arrogantly and without compassion declared that the Indian people "have no right to their land" and he instructed the all-Mormon legislature to "extinguish all titles" and get them out of the way and onto reservations, violating Utah Indian's inherent rights as a sovereign nation by virtue of the fact they were inhabitants of the land for hundreds if not thousands of years prior to the Mormons arrival.

Following the incident at Manti, Timpanogos leader Arropeen, being dishonored before his people, resigned his leadership to his brother Chief Tabby, who saw it as the final blow after some 21 years of Mormon depredations. and so it followed the Timpanogos Tribe rallied under the new leadership of Tabby's nephew Antonga "Black Hawk", whom Tabby had asked to lead as his War-Chief, and declared war on the Mormons. Black Hawk's campaign of vengeance lasted just 15 months. This marked the beginning of what the whites first dubbed "The Utah War" and later "The Black Hawk War."

Yes it's true, Black Hawk stole Mormon cattle and horses by the thousands in defense. 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, adding insult to injury laying all blame on Utah's Indian peoples. By 1870 when Black Hawk died, the Timpanogos population would decrease by a staggering 90% and more from violence, disease, and starvation.

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 More on Timpanogos Leader Black Hawk)

Moreover, the Timpanogos, as with all Tribes at the time, did not believe in "Satan" or "God" in the Christian sense, and are being judged and mocked by Christian values and beliefs. They were under extreme duress by a people who by this time had made it clear to the Native peoples they had two choices, surrender to the Mormons their land or... die.

While some historians try to make the case that the 22 years leading up to the war were "complex," a knowing 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 sacred land and culture and accept whiteman's ways... it was a matter of honor and survival, why is that so complicated to understand?"

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. (See Doctrine of Discovery)

"Mormons used slavery as a tool of redemption." According to Historian Andrés Reséndez' author of The Other Slavery, "Brigham said buy up the lamanite children, educate them, and teach them the gospel so that many generations would not pass they should become a white and delightsome people. Buy them up to save their souls."

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." - Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute and author of "Pagans in the Promised Land."

Let's also understand when Mormon settlers arrived in 1847, Utah territory bordered the northern section of Mexico, and the Timpanogos Tribe were the first indigenous peoples Brigham Young and his followers encountered. Their population was at least 70,000 and more. They were the ruling Tribe that occupied the entire territory comprised of some 250,000 square miles. The 'Eutahs' as they were called by early trappers, were all one people before the Mormons came, but as Mormon's began killing them - terrified they scattered 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." Settlers ignored the treaty with impunity. (See The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo)

The Black Hawk War was not a single event, nor did a single event ignite the war as some would have us believe. I documented over 150 bloody confrontations with Mormon settlers led by Brigham Young. The first of six massacres of the Timpanogos commenced at Battle Creek in 1849, and the bloodshed continued on into the year 1872. While historians focus on the years 1865-68 when Sanpitch's son Black Hawk launched his 15 month counteroffensive as being the time of the war.

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

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 I found in Mt. Pleasant 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 $30 million today.

In 1848, the Higbee brothers and Dimmick Huntington were made presidency of the soon-to-be Provo Branch of the LDS Church and led a party of 30 saints to Provo River to erect Fort Utah. When they were within a few miles north of the Provo River they were stopped by An-kar-tewets, a warrior of the Timpanogos, who stood before the men telling them to go back where they came from, that they were not going to make any settlement on their land. Allegedly they argued for sometime, until Dimmick pleaded with An-kar-tewets that they wanted to live in peace with the Timpanogos and made promises of gifts. According to the victors’ accounts following a long discussion, An-kar-tewets made Dimmick raise his hand to swear to the sun that no harm would come to the Timpanogos, that they would never take away their lands or rights, and Dimmick and the others swore. According to the Timpanogos I was told that An-kar-tewets would not have made any compromise, it is a great honor to be a warrior, a warrior would not put the Tribe at risk by allowing Dimmick and the Higbee party to pass. And we don't "swear to the sun." He was simply out numbered.

"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 Pareyarts , variously styled Elk, 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." - Peter Gottfredson

Later, Winter of 1849, 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.

So it followed that war with the Mormons 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.

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. (Source: 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, highly unlikely since most took shelter and then 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)

Work began immediately after and Fort Utah was built along side of the Timpanogos River (Provo River). Moreover, smallpox had begun to spread epidemically among the Natives, and the saints had succeeded in driving most of the Timpanogos from the valley into the nearby mountains. On a cold winter day Chief Pareyarts came to the fort asking for medicine for his people who were sick from the disease. A soldier took the Chief by the nap of his neck and threw him out of the fort.

The Murder of Old Bishop

On a warm spring day three men were riding along the Provo River near Fort Utah on their horses when they came upon a "friendly Indian" the whites called Old Bishop. The whites called him by this name because his mannerisms reminded them of a white man by the name of Bishop Whitney. The three men, Rufus Stoddard, Richard Ivie, and Gerome Zabrisky began to heckle the man, and accused him of stealing the shirt he was wearing from off a clothes line. Old Bishop denied having stolen the shirt from anyone, saying he had made a fair trade for it.

Ivie pulled his gun on Old Bishop and told him to take it off. The old Indian man stood his ground and refused. Ivie murdered the Indian in cold blood.

Concerned that what they had done would spark retribution from the Indians, the men then gutted the old man. They then filled his body cavity with rocks and threw him in the Provo River. Quoting from History of Utah Stake, James Goff, one of the colonists, stated later, "The men who killed the Indian ripped his bowels open and filled them with stones preparatory to sinking the body."

Satisfied, the men returned to the fort and boasted of having taken Old Bishop's life. Thinking they had committed the perfect murder they relaxed and fell back into their routines. So much for the alleged promises made by Dimmick Huntington and Higbee brothers to An-kar-tewets.

The Man Called "Black Hawk"

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", however, 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.

Mormon scholars believe that Black Hawk was known as Antonga before he was known as Black Hawk. The name "Black Hawk" is not a Timpanogos name, it was a name Brigham Young called the Chief in jest. So Brigham’s supercilious term “Black Hawk” became the name by which he is now most commonly known.

Black Hawk was born into a royal family line of legendary Chiefs Sanpitch, Wakara, Arropeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, and Grospeen. Black Hawk was the son of Sanpitch. These seven brothers were sons of Moonch, who was the son of Turunianchi, and were referred to as "the privileged blood." Black Hawk was a War Chief and was under the leadership of Chief Tabby.

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 Snake-Shoshoni ancestors. His charismatic personality and natural leadership ability made him likeable among both his own people and the whites. As a 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.

It is well documented that Black Hawk was a compassionate leader. 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.

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 campaign against the atrocities and seemingly endless encroachment of Mormon settlers on his peoples aboriginal land.

Black Hawk, under the leadership of his uncle 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 a Ute warrior 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.

Black Hawk 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. (See Looting of Black Hawk's Grave)

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."

Just 1500 Timpanogos Indians remained alive in 1873 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 and Indian Agent Brigham Young promised them - never arrived.

(See Source Material)

(See Legacy Of The Black Hawk War)

(See Credits and Donors)

Credits: My thanks to Mary Meyer Timpanogos Tribe direct-descendent of Chief Arropeen (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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