Part 4 of 4

Ute Indians - Black Hawk Productions

Ute Indian Powwow 2009 (Picture taken by permission)

1849 - 1873

continued from page 3

1866 June 18th, Chief Sanpitch was taken captive and brutally murdered. Having a bounty on his head Dolf Bennet slit his throat during a botched plan of Brigham Young's to lure Black Hawk into a trap. The death of Sanpitch (Black Hawk’s father) was again very devastating to Black Hawk and his family. The old Chief Sanpitch long been one of the leaders of the Timpanogos and was highly respected by all. The news sent a shock wave throughout Timpanogos territory. (See Timpanogos Tribe)

Sanpitch had, just the year before, signed a peace treaty with Brigham Young present. Tabby and old Sowiette were so enraged they immediately prepared to take revenge on the Mormons. They were making preparations to join Black Hawk, and were it not for Black Hawk's plea to stop the bloodshed, Tabby would have done so. (Please see Death of Sanpitch)

On June 20th, 1866, Black Hawk (Black Hawk) was shot in battle while attempting to rescue a fallen warrior. To make matters worse, The wound never healed properly which eventually led to his death in 1973. (Please see Battle at Gravely Ford)

On June 26th, 1866, Mountain, was wounded in battle at Diamond Fork above Spanish Fork. Mountain and his warriors had taken some 30 head of cattle from Mapleton, but were caught. The battle resulted in six deaths—two whites and four Timpanogos. This battle was a significant win for the Mormons, as it was the first time they had prevailed and recovered much of their cattle. According to a Springville account, Black Hawk was shot by Col. Creer with a long rifle at 800 yards. But, Black Hawk wasn't even there. He was near Ephraim ailing from his wound he recieved at Gravely Ford. (See Diamond Battle)

In the spring of 1867 at Heber City, Tabby's son was captured after butchering a cow. He expected to be killed, but Bishop Murdock told him he would be released if he would carry a personal message to Chief Tabby requesting a meeting to negotiate an end to the long and needless war. After Tabby received Joseph’s message, a government Indian agent tried to meet with Tabby, but Tabby said he would only talk with “Old Murdock!"

1867 Aug 12th: Several accounts explain that while near the Uinta reservation, Black Hawk and his warriors, in a prearranged meeting, met with Indian Superintendent Franklin Head. The Indian people, it appears, had respect for Franklin. It is said that Black Hawk told Franklin that he and his warriors were tired of fighting and wanted peace.

Black Hawk, with his massive army, could have caused far more depredations to the “saints”, and certainly had just cause. But in a surprising change of tactics he elected to give up his campaign of vengeance to take a more altruistic course. At that point, all hopes of their ever being free or holding onto their land was gone. And Black Hawk, knew that the Transcontinental Railroad would soon be completed, meaning an even greater influx of Anglos into Utah.

1867 August 19th: Hundreds of Northern Timpanogos people accompanied Tabby to Heber City. They went directly to Tabby's old friend Joseph Murdock’s home at 115 East 300 North where they camped in his yard and pasture. The following day, four of Murdock’s five wives who were living in Heber City, and the townsfolk prepared a feast on a lot owned by John Carroll, across the street from the Murdock home. A large pit was dug to roast enough beef to feed everyone. Each woman had been asked to bake a dozen loaves of bread. Rows of tables were loaded with corn and whatever the townsfolk could find in their pantries and larders to feed their guests.

The feasting and talk lasted all day. Murdock and Tabby exchanged a few simple gifts. The leaders then went across the street to an upstairs room in Murdock’s home where a peace pipe was smoked and a treaty of friendship was signed. Tabby signed his name and the six war leaders made their marks.

This peace agreement ended the fighting between the settlers in Heber Valley and the Timpanogos people. It was one of the first agreements in a series of peace pacts made between Mormon settlers and Timpanogos leaders that led to the eventual end of the Black Hawk War.

Tabby was the youngest of what Brigham Young called the "royal line" of brothers. He was the last of his brothers to die in 1902 in the Rock Creek area of what is now Tabiona on the Uinta Valley Reservation, Utah. He sat in on all Council meetings during the Black Hawk War making critical decissions. He was signor of three treaties, the Goship Treaty of Peace, the 1865 Spanish Fork Treaty, the 1867 Heber Treaty of Peace.

Black Hawk performed many heroic acts of courage and bravery, and it is a matter of record that he sought sacred guidance in all his decisions. I firmly believe that, were it not for the inspired leadership of this man, many more lives would have been lost in the Black Hawk War in Utah.

The news of Black Hawk's tactical maneuver spread quickly. Brigham Young grasped the moment, and took credit for having reconciled the war through vigilance and kindness, underscoring that his policy “to feed them and not fight them had paid off. The Rocky Mountain News quoted Brigham Young's boasting, "If you want to get rid of the Indians try and civilize them," a statement that speaks to Brigham's “two hearts.”

In a letter written by William Probert to my g-grandfather Peter Gottfredson, he makes reference to Black Hawk's "Mission of Peace." In spite of the tremendous personal misery that Black Hawk endured throughout his life from the time he was a child, in the remaining weeks before his death he is described as physically distraught, gaunt, hollow-eyed, skeleton-like; yet he elected to travel by horseback nearly two hundred miles from Cedar City to Springville, Utah. Black Hawk was under heavy guard, and accompanied by his devoted warriors Mountain and Joe, Along the way they stopped at every Mormon settlement and with dignity Black Hawk reminded the settlers they had broken their promises, stolen his people’s land and brought disease. Yet, he asked the Saints to forgive him and his people for the sufferings they had caused them, and admonished them to do the same and end the bloodshed. He was well received, and left a lasting impression on the Saints, albeit some took his "Mission of Peace" as a surrender. If he surrendered it was to save the few remaining lives of his people. Black Hawk returned to his place of birth at Spring Lake, and there he died. With honors he was buried high up on the mountainside.

1871: U.S. federal troops stepped in and 1500 Timpanogos Indians were driven from their homes in the shining mountains and valleys of Utah at gunpoint, and left to fend for themselves in one of the most desolate regions of Utah. Again, many died from hunger, hopelessness and despair as a result. Carlton Culmsee, writer for the Deseret News observed that Indians on the Uinta reservation, set aside by Abraham Lincoln in 1861, were distraught and were, as he said: "So many kegs of powder, sullen, and silent potentials for violence...believing that the government had not kept their promises of schools, houses, mills, aids for farming," since the federal government was ignoring the Utah Indians’ demand that promises be kept. White employees on the reservation, sent to keep watch over the now-segregated Indian people (at gun point), also were neglected as food and supplies were often scant. However, as government officials responded, their needs were satisfied by taking from the Indians what meager food supplies they had for themselves. As anger was fueled, the disgruntled Indian people were appeased by token amounts of food and trinkets distributed among them by reservation employees. "And the Mormons were, of course, not blameless," Culmsee points out, "while those 'saints' who disregarded Brigham Young's admonition to deal fairly with the Indian people, these men offset in considerable measure what Brigham Young's wisdom accomplished, and caused some reservation Indians to distrust the Mormons." But even Brigham had to admit, regarding his own people, that the “Architects of Zion” had to “work with such material as the Lord has provided, stupidity, wooden shoes, and cork brains thrown into the bargain.”

The Legacy of the Black Hawk War -- Perpetual Demoralization

"That's all in the past, we should just forget about it! The LDS Church has done more for the Indians than any other church on the face of the earth. They (Indians) are the chosen people."

Arrogance didn't end with the war. Imagine, if you will, having the corpse of your father disrespectfully unearthed by grave robbers; then, for some strange reason, put on public display in the church museum on Temple Square as a curiosity. The remains of Brigham Young are buried in consecrated ground. Black Hawk's remains were unearthed by Mormon looters in 1919, just 49 years following his death. And, for weeks, were placed in the window of a co-op store in downtown Spanish Fork; afterwards they were taken to the LDS church museum on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Was the reason simply amusement for others? Was grave robbing for art, pleasure, punishment, a morbid fascination of death, divine obligation, or, most importantly, the wielding of power?

Oh yes, I vividly recall seeing the display in the museum as a boy, as do countless others, and no doubt some reading this remember as well. For the skeletal remains of Black Hawk remained there for nearly 70 years, and all the while his living descendents bore the agony, and humiliation—unable to convince the church to give up the remains of their beloved grandfather. Once again I echo the words of Brigham Young in a speech delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1854: "If the inhabitants of this territory, my brethren, had never condescended to reduce themselves to the practices of the Indians, to their low, degraded condition, and in some cases even lower, there never would have been any trouble between us and our red neighbors. Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals."

"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 Timpanogos 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.

On 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 Black Hawk Productions Deseret News 1919for 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 Black Hawk, there's one. and it appeared on the front page of the Deseret News Paper. Just 49 years had passed since Black Hawk had been laid to rest in 1870 at Spring Lake, Utah, when members of the LDS Church plotted the robbery of his grave. Black Hawk Productions William E. Croff.Accompanying the article is a photo of William E. Croff standing in the open grave, grinning ear to ear, while holding the skull of Black Hawk (Black Hawk). While the living descendants of Black Hawk 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 Black Hawk 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)

Black Hawk 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 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 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 Black Hawk (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 Black Hawk (Black Hawk) Spring Lake, Utah

In the year Black Hawk's remains were dug up by Bishop Ben Bullock and Lars Croft, Heber J. Grant was president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed by George Albert Smith (1945-1951); David O. McKay (1951-1970); Joseph Fielding Smith (1970-1972); Harold B. Lee (1972-1973); Spencer W. Kimball (1973-1985); and Ezra Taft Benson (1985-1994). These prophets have administered the affairs of the church from church headquarters in Salt Lake City. These men presided over "God’s church" as the "mouthpiece of God," but, for some reason, never had enough respect or compassion toward their fellow man to give up their claim to the bones of Black Hawk, or even consider his living descendants. Even to this day, the burial site of Black Hawk is owned by the LDS Church. 

The tradition of exhibiting native Indian remains in western societies has existed since the earliest encounters between Europeans and indigenous populations. Exhibiting non-white bodies as a popular practice reached its peak in the nineteenth century in both Europe and the USA. The exhibition of native people for public entertainment in circuses, zoos, and museums became fairly common. In the USA, in particular, the spectacle of "freaks," "natives," and "savages" became a profitable industry at this time, as in popular traveling shows like Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Barnum and Bailey's Circus. World Expositions were also popular for the display of native bodies. Dissected and embalmed remains of native bodies,  particularly the skulls and sexual organs, were also publicly exhibited.

The days of the mountain men, the early rancher, the cattle kings, and the homesteaders have passed, and now the lowly sheep is king. But time may change it all, and who knows but what in some distant future the Timpanogos may again roam and hunt in the hallowed hills of their forebears, silent and wrapped in the mystic haze of Indian summer." - Val Fitzpatrick

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