Shoshoni Indian

The Black Hawk War; Utah's Forgotten Tragedy


Phillip B Gottfredson


"History has to be remembered for whatever happened."

For over a decade it has been a great honor and privilege for me to learn from Native American peoples of Utah. The Ute, Paiute, Goshute, and Shoshoni have shared with me their version of the Black Hawk War in Utah. Their story I am compelled to share with you for their's is one of the great stories in all American Indian history.

On this page, and throughout this website, you will see Mormon depredations upon the Natives peoples of Utah, and how they systematically tried to cover it up. Deceit, dishonesty, torture, mass butchery, rape, and death, death to others, to animals, plants, to the waters, and the land. Indigenous men, women, and children were left to wonder alone in a land they believed belonged to them for eternity. A people who in their final agony cried out "we are human too."

Four years after Mormon pioneers entered Utah territory in 1849, in 1853 Ute leader Walkara (Black Hawk's uncle) told interpreter M. S. Martenas, "He (Walkara) said 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—sometimes they have been treated with much severity—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 (See complete transcription below)

Commencing in April of 1865, Chief Arropeen after eduring some 17 years of Mormon depredations, passed leadership to Black Hawk who then led counter attacks undermining Mormon economics for a period of 15 months before being fatally wounded at Gravely Ford in June of 1866. Black Hawk, in a surprising change of tactics, then spent the last three years of his life campaigning for a peaceful end to a tragic war before he died from his wound in 1870. A war that had lasted over two decades and resulted in deaths numbering in the thousands, and loss of ancestral land exceeding 200,000 square miles.

Like my great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson, it has been a great honor to be in the company of the Native peoples of Utah. And as powerful my experiences have been, none humbled me as much, or made me feel more honored, as when I was invited into the homes of the living descendants of the great Chief Black Hawk. We talked openly for many hours over several subsequent visits. As they spoke of the painful sufferings of their ancestors, I truly realized the magnitude of the trauma both Mormon settlers, and their leaders, put upon these good people.

I am also deeply humbled by the many sacred ceremonies I was invited to attend. I began to see into the hearts and souls of Naive peoples, and felt the warmth of community and human kindness. It became clear to me that the social values of the Native American Indian is not part of the historical record... I ask why?

My personal experience with Native Americans grew exponentially on a much broader scale as I became immersed in Native culture. Privileged to engage in heartfelt Phillip B Gottfredson Black Hawk Productionsconversations with traditionalists from many tribes, I found their approach to life brings a great sense of equality and brotherhood. They express a profound connection to Mother earth, their recognition of a great and immense power, and their respect for all living things goes beyond the meaning of the word, to have respect is to treat all of that which Creator created as sacred, thus giving purpose and meaning to the wholeness of life. The "Seven Teachings" of honesty, respect, humility, love, kindness, courage, and wisdom, I found to be common among all the many tribes I have talked with, and these are the social values they have lived by long before Christianity was forced upon them.

Chief Joseph said, "We have no qualms about color. It has no meaning. It doesn't mean anything. When we are together we are one. Nothing can break it." This is the same message Chief Sitting Bull conveyed when he said, "The heart knows not the color of the skin." All that my Native mentors and friends asked of me was, "be yourself Phil, and come from your heart." These are ancient traditional values found among the Ute, Paiute, Lakota, Shoshoni, Blackfoot, Navajo, Hopi, Pueblos, Makaw, Apache, Zuni, Mayan, and so many more I have come to know.

My point is, during those trying times the Native peoples of Utah were victims of genocide, and suffered the most horrible loss in every way imaginable. However, as bad as those times were, when we associate Native peoples with just those times, we falsify history. For it is important to understand who they were before, and that's what history overlooks.

"No one has ever asked us," was their reply when I asked Utes why their side of the story is missing? Unfortunately, scholars and writers have, over the past 150 years, published one-sided accounts of the war. What they wrote of the Native peoples specifically was 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.

It is easy to conclude that the Black Hawk War was not a time in history for Utahans to be proud of, and if they are then they truly misunderstand the harsh realities of this human tragedy. There is nothing about the Black Hawk war that celebrates our noble ancestors. There is a great temptation then to ignore the truth saying, "that's all in the past, we just need to forget about it." But, "history has to be remembered for whatever happened" said Loya Arrum a member of the Ute Tribe. And Forrest Cuch, a Ute Tribal leader put it succinctly when he said, "An understanding of the true history is central to the well-being of the community."

I want to see truth from both sides. I want to see healing. I want to see change in the way history is written. Reconciliation is possible.

And so I say, if you must judge them, do so by their own standards.


Credits: My thanks to Will Bagley, Dr. Daniel McCool, Forrest Cuch (Ute), Dr. Floyd O'Neil, the Living Descendents of Nuch (Black Hawk), Loya Arrum (Ute), Lacee Harris, Vanita Taveapont (Ute), "Lakota Ann" Cutler, Larry Cesspooch (Ute), Robert Carter, Bryon Richardson, Charmain Thompson (Archeologist National Forest Service), and Shane Armstrong (Eagle Scout). The George S. Deloris Dori Eccles Foundation, and the Utah State Division of Indian Affairs. And last but not least, humble gratitude to Ron Hill Imagery, and my many friends, good people and organizations for their kindness and generosity.

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

- Phillip B Gottfredson

Indian Depredations in Utah by Peter Gottfredson

Inspired by Peter Gottfredson's book, Indian Depredations In Utah - 1919. A personal firsthand account of the Black Hawk War in Utah. Click on image to purchase.


Black Hawk Productions

Black Hawk War - Uinta Reservation
White Rocks Ute Reservation circa 1880


The Mormon's Black Hawk War History

"It was the frontier at it's very worst..."

Brigham Young's depredations of Utah's Indian peoples began February 28, 1849 with the first of six massacres at Battle Creek Pleasant Grove, Utah. In the crisp morning air, on that cold February morning, shots echoed off the canyon walls. There lingered a thick gray smoke of gun powder; the frozen snow was now crimson red with fresh Ute blood. This day would mark the beginning of a 21 year battle with Mormons, the US Government, and all five tribes of the Ute Indian Nation.

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 fasley accused of taking horses belonging to Mormon leader Brigham Young.

According 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. Not one of the thirty-five men turned back. (Stout Diary)

Scott and his men met up with a Ute Indian by the name of Little Chief on the Provo River. Little Chief regretfully led Scott to an encampment of Indians who allegedly had been doing some stealing. Though 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.

It is said that the "battle" continued for a couple hours, perhaps, but highly unlikely since those trapped in the ravine, standing in freezing water, had only one gun. But, a brave Ute 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 in the face of terror in front of 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."

"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 Chief 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." (Timpanogos Town, Story of Old Battle Creek and Pleasant Grove, Utah, Howard R. Driggs, 1948)


(Also see "This is the land promised by the Eternal Father to the Faithful, - Genocide Concealed as Education" - Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute and author of "Pagans in the Promised Land." And "Doctrine of Discovery Disguised as European Expansion" - by Peter d'Errico, Legal Studies Department, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, American Indian Sovereignty: Now You See It, Now You Don't.)


"The Man Mormons Called "Black Hawk"


While Black Hawk has been the subject of hundreds of accounts, it's strange we know very little about the man. His name appears in hundreds of books, journals, and on hundreds of headstones and historical makers throughout Utah. A man who's remains were dug up and put on public display, and reburied again. Yet none of these accounts explain the kind of person he was, his perspective on life, spiritual beliefs, or background. It is briefly mentioned in one account he had two wives, but who were they? Did he have children?

And so this caused me to take a personal interest in Black Hawk, and I spent ten years of piecing together all the little details about him. But when I was finally given permission to speak with his living descendants there began to emerge in my mind the person he was.

The man they called "Chief Black Hawk", according to his living descendants his Ute name was Nuch. "Black Hawk" and "Antonga" are not Ute Indian names! The name "Black Hawk" is not in the language of any of Utah's Indian tribes. So who was Black Hawk? The answer is definitive, there never was a man the Utes called "Black Hawk" or "Antonga" period.

According to historical accounts I found in both state and church archives, "Black Hawk" was a name that Brigham Young, in jest, called the Ute's leader. So it became that Brigham Young's supercilious term, 'Black Hawk,' is the name by which he is now most commonly known. In fact there were some three or This is not Utah's Black Hawk!more Indians the whites referred to as Black Hawk in Utah history. It was a sarcastic joke, a mockery referring to the Sauk and Fox Indian tribes (Mesquaki) under the leadership of the real Chief Black Hawk and the tragic Black Hawk War of 1832 in Illinois, where the Mormons migrated from. It was, perhaps, a sinister message to the Utes that a similar destiny awaited them. The photo to the right here is not Utah's Black Hawk, it originates from the Smithsonian, it is a drawing of a Kiowa Apache the whites also called "Black Hawk", but, here we are again, the name is not in the Apache language either.

Nuch is also referred to as "Antonga." To the Mexicans Nuch was known as "Antonga", a nick-name. The name is not a Ute name either. The Ute's had long established trade relations with the Mexicans and interacted with them for decades and more. Utah's "Black Hawk" was born into a family of legendary leaders going back centuries in time, and was known among the Utes as Nuch, he was so named in honor of his people the Nuchu, a sacred name the Utes call themselves. (See the Facts)

Born at Spring Lake, Utah circa 1838, Nuch 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 forefathers. Nuch was a skilled horseman which is not surprising since the Utes were the first in North America to obtain the horse from Spanish explorer Desoto around 1530. His charismatic personality and natural leadership ability made him likeable among both his own people and the whites. In his childhood he was educated in Jesse Williams Fox's school in Manti. Then in his mid teens Nuch (Black Hawk) witnessed with extreme agony the senseless murders of his family at Battle Creek, and the gruesome beheadings of his kin at Fort Utah. Years later, following botched peace efforts in 1865 by John Lowry, he was honorably chosen by his tribe to be a sub-Chief of his brother Chief Tabby. He accepted the challenge. (See How The Black Hawk War Began)

Ironically, in 1866 Congress voted in the Civil Rights bill overturning President Andrew Johnson's veto. Utah's population was approaching 200,000 people when Nuch began his 15 month champaign against Mormon settlement on his peoples ancestral land.

Out numbered and against all odds of ever winning, beginning in the winter of 1865, courageously Nuch led his fellow warriors and communal tribe, with support from neighboring allies, in war against the Mormons. In just 15 months, after leadership was passed from Chief Arropeen to Nuch, he demonstrated incredible skill as he commanded a formidable counter-attack that effectively held back Mormon expansion into their most valued homeland in central and southern Utah territory for nearly a year. Because Nuch understood the Mormon's economics, he managed to undermine their economy by causing cattle markets to collapse, and the abandonment of some 70 Mormon villages. He nearly succeeded in driving them out of Utah.

Then in June of 1866, Chief Nuch was shot during battle at Gravely Ford near Richfield. 15 months into his role as sub-Chief, he convinced his brother Chief Tabby to end the war. Nuch and other Ute leaders had to make tough and yet well informed decisions as they came to grips with a heartbreaking reality... life as they knew it was at an end.

It is well documented that Nuch was a seasoned warrior. He also was a compassionate man. It is a fact that war does not harden people, rather it humanizes them. He was resistant to killing, and only then in self-defense. Conditioned by his own personal torment, having witnessed his people becoming increasingly ill from white man's diseases, and the slow agonizing death from starvation was unbearable. Often he 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.

Still the Chief didn't surrender after having been seriously wounded. During the month of August, 1867, Chief Nuch meet with Indian Superintendent Franklin Head to announce he and his people want peace. The following three years the Chief dedicated his efforts to total peace with the white man.

Days prior to his death in 1870, Nuch, now deathly ill from his wound, he continued peace efforts, my great-grandfather called Black Hawk's "mission of peace." To his honor his passionate plea for reconciliation contributed significantly to the ending of the bloodshed. Consistent in character, as in his childhood, once again he tried to get along with the white man. Peter Gottfredson, my great grandfather, saw the suffering of his friend Nuch and was deeply disturbed as he witnessed the consequences of man's inhumanity to man.

Nuch died from the gun shot wound he received four years earlier at Gravely Ford while attempting to rescue a fellow warrior named White Horse. The wound never healed properly and complications followed.

Respected Ute leaders speak freely...

In the month of August, 1867, Black Hawk, with deepest 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, asked him to cut off his long hair demonstrating his commitment to end the bloodshed.

"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 Larry Cesspooch member of the Ute 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/Member of the Ute Tribe

Forrest CuchHe had fought the good fight, and he knew he was about to die, before Chief Nuch passed over in 1870, deathly ill from a bullet wound, 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 Nuch 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." Still he was willing to make peace, he then made a plea to the settlers to do the honorable thing and end the bloodshed. "You didn't see that happening on the part of the settlers", said Forrest Cuch, "So it took a greater man to do such a thing. And that's what is overlooked in the victors’ accounts." ( See Gravelly Ford)

Black Hawk did not surrender to Brigham Young as some accounts suggest. Rather he took upon himself the agony and humiliation of his people. If he surrendered, he surrendered to a higher power. In his wisdom he knew it was futile and wrong to expose his people to more torment. But the Chief's fight for freedom didn't end there. He followed his heart and changed his strategy as he campaigned for peace for three more years prior to his death in 1870.

The first, and only treaty, was signed between the Ute and the federal government on March 2, 1868. It was then ratified on July 25, 1868. (See treaty 1868)

The so called "treaties" made prior to 1868 between the Mormons and the 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. - Dr. Floyd O'Neil

Much has been said about Black Hawk "stealing Mormon beef" and little or no emphasis on Mormon theft of Native lands, and more important their freedom. (See Doctrine of Discovery)


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

Did the Black Hawk war begin in 1865 as scholars say? Was it over in 1870? The Mormons got their "promised land" and the Transcontinental Railroad had come to Salt Lake. Black Hawk died in 1870. Ninety percent of the Indian population had died since the Mormons arrived in 1847. Fifteen hundred Utes were forced to walk a hundred miles to Fort Duchesne, the reservation in the Uintah Basin, where they were abandoned, and 500 more died from starvation in the first year. Chief Walkara said, "and the graves of their fathers have been torn up by the whites." That was in 1853. What happened next boggles the mind.

Black Hawk Productions Deseret News 1919On September 20, 1919, an article appeared on the front page of the Deseret News 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 church museum on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

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

"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)

Chief Nuch was again reburied in the year 1996. This raises the question why? Why would a Christian religious institution and its leaders have no compassion or respect for the living descendants of Chief Nuch (Black Hawk) even as some were and are members of the LDS church?

It took an act of Congress, the help of National Forest Service archeologist Charmain Thompson, and the humanitarian efforts of a boy scout Shane Armstrong to find and rebury the remains of Nuch (Black Hawk) at Spring Lake, the place of his birth. Shane Armstrong, he told me in an interview 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 Nuch (Black Hawk) in a basement storage room, in a box, on Brigham Young University campus.

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. (See also Source Material)

Copyright BlacknHawk Productions Nuch gravesite

Burial Site of Chief Nuch (Black Hawk) Spring Lake, Utah



The Mormon Massacres at Bear River and Circleville - Buffalo hides

Buffalo Hides


"There was a time when our people were happy and content living in the majestic mountains and fertile green valleys of Utah. Then the Mormons came, and our people were killed—the old, the young, the children, women—and many taken to reservations where many more would die." - A Member of the Ute Tribe

"We took from them almost all of 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 - Dr. Daniel McCool University of Utahland. 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 are still here and there's survival; that great saga of survival is one of the great stories of all mankind." - Professor Dr. Daniel McCool University of Utah

American Indian inhabitants had occupied their ancestral land in Utah for some 20,000 years. Whereas, non-Indian people, namely fur traders, came and went. There were several native American tribes living in the area at the time the Ute, Paiute, Goshute, Shoshoni, and Uncompahgre, and they were understandably in sharp disagreement with Mormon settlers who steadily forced their way upon them.

Chief Walker Interview - Will BagleyIn 1853 Ute 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 have 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

"When the Ute failed to assimilate into Mormon culture, the answer was to exterminate them." - Historian Robert Carter

In 1850 Mormon apostle George A. Smith, cousin to Church founder Joseph Smith, 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. Smith was 33 years of age when making decisions affecting the lives of thousands of Native peoples.

LDS Church President Brigham Young's victory was perhaps a hollow one for, in order to fulfill his dream, he had to destroy a civilization. He complained it was "cheaper to feed them than to fight them," as he was spending millions in church funds equipping his private army to war against them. Brigham paid his Generals from the church tithing fund as much as $300 a month while some 3000 soldiers were being paid some $16.00 a month each. Then in 1866 the United States government reimbursed Brigham some 1.5 million dollars for military expenses. (See Memorial of the Legislative Assembly of Utah) - Salt Lake

Salt Lake City

Young's long-time admonition to the members of his church was to "Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals." Many "saints" were spending time in the Indian camps (my g-grandfather among them) and occasionally inviting Indian people into their homes, to which Brigham responded, "If the inhabitants of this Territory, my brethren, had never condescended to reduce themselves to the practices of the Indians, (as few of them have), to their low, degraded condition, and in some cases even lower, there never would have been any trouble between us and our red neighbors." - (See Brigham Young Discourses)

Brigham Young was quoted by the Denver Rocky Mountain Newspaper as saying, "You can get rid of more Indians with a sack of flour, than a keg of powder"... just how many of the some 70,000 Indians did he get rid of? - Historian Robert CarterThe gruesome beheadings of some 40 Ute corpses in 1850, heads stacked in boxes, and hung by their long hair from the eves of buildings at Fort Utah, has long been ignored, "You didn't see the Indians beheading the Mormons." - Historian Robert Carter Author of Fort Utah

What was the motivation behind such barbarianism? Money? Indeed, the severed heads were shipped to Washington and sold for "scientific examination."

The massacre at Bear River (Known as massacre at Boa Ogoi by the Lemhi Shoshone) occurred January 29, 1863. It was the third out of six massacres in Utah, but by far one the worst ever in U.S. history. Over five hundred Shoshoni, innocent of any wrong doing, were slain by Mormon militia and U.S. army commander Colonel Patrick Edward Connor—among them, old men, 90 women and children. 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, "many of the Squaws were killed because they would not submit to lie down and be ravished." Eyewitness William Hull wrote: "Never will I forget the scene, dead bodies were everywhere. I counted eight deep in one place and in several places they were three to five deep; all in all we counted nearly four hundred; two-thirds of this number being women and children. We found two Indian women alive whose thighs had been broken by the bullets. Two little boys and one little girl about three years of age were still living. The little girl was badly wounded, having eight flesh wounds in her body ..."

Chief Bear Hunter and sub-Chief Lehi (not a Ute name) both were killed. Mormon troops led by a United States Army Colonel, burned 75 Indian lodges, took possession of 1,000 bushels of wheat and flour, and 175 Shoshone horses. While the troops cared for their wounded and took their dead back to Camp Douglas in Salt Lake City for burial, hundreds of Indians' bodies were left on the field for the wolves and crows for nearly two years. Brigham Young obliged the federal governments request by supplying Connor with cavalry troops from the Utah Militia. Although the Mormon settlers in Cache Valley expressed their gratitude for "the movement of Col. Connor as an intervention of the Almighty" in their behalf, the Bear River Massacre was a brushed-aside-ignored-history in Utah. - John Alton Peterson Utah's Black Hawk War - Rod Miller's Massacre at Bear River (Also see Bear River Massacre)

"The Bear River Massacre has been ignored. It was not in the interest of key players—the military and the Mormons—to remember.." - Salt Lake Tribune

On a dark and somber night, April 21, 1866, another heinous crime was being committed in Circleville, Utah, the sixth and last of the massacres that occurred between the years of 1849 and 1866 , led by LDS Bishop William Jackson Allred and his son James T. S.. While Paiutes were being held captive in a below ground shelter, one by one, 26 in all -- women, men, and children, their throats were cut. The only crime that eyewitness accounts accuses these innocent victims of is that they were Indian. No less important, what is astonishing are the morbid details of the event that defies all logic. Amazing is the fact that three children managed to survive, living descendants of one the survivors many have shared with me their personal records of that horrible event. - (See Circleville Massacre)

The six massacres in Utah resulted in a total of some 766 deaths of Native Americans in Utah.


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