The Story of Timpanogos Leader Black Hawk
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Black Hawk's Mission of Peace
Following the incident at Manti, Timpanogos leader Arrapeen, 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 Tribal warriors rallied under the new leadership of Tabby's nephew Black Hawk, whom Tabby had asked to lead as his War-Chief, and declared war on the Mormons. Black Hawk's campaign of vengeance would last just 15 months. This marked the beginning of what the whites first dubbed “the Mormon War”, then "The Utah War" and later "The Black Hawk War."
Black Hawk, or Antongua as he is sometimes called, was born at Spring Lake, Utah circa 1835, Black Hawk, was bright and intelligent with a good sense of humor. He was the son of Sanpitch He was from his childhood groomed to be a warrior honoring the traditions of his Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos ancestors. His charismatic personality and natural leadership ability made him likable 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.
My father told me Peter was invited into Black Hawk's camp on numerous occasions during the war. 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. By his twenties Black Hawk had already witnessed with extreme agony the senseless murders of his family at Battle Creek, and the gruesome beheading of his kin at Fort Utah, the murder of his uncle Wakara, and the disrespect shown towards his uncle Arrapeen. Then in 1863, when 593 Shoshone men women and children were brutally massacred at Bear River, and all the other injustices his people were suffering from...the task that lay before his must have seemed overwhelming.
Meanwhile, just as the Transcontinental Rail Road was being completed at Promontory Point in Utah, 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. Skills I believe he learned from Wakara.
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 March 28, 1865, Brigham Young made the following promise to Chief Sanpitch of the Timpanogos at Spanish Fork. He said, "Sanpitch, Soweett, Tabby and all of you, I want you to understand
what I say to you. I am looking out for your welfare...if you go to
Uintah they will build you houses make you a farm, give you cows,
oxen, clothing, blankets, and many other things you will want and
then the treaty that colonel Irish has here gives you the privilege
of coming back here on a visit. You can fish, hunt, pick berries,
dig roots, and we can visit together. The land does not belong to
you nor to me nor to the government. It belongs to the Lord. But our
father at Washington is disposed to make you liberal presents to let
the Mormons live here. If you will go over there and have your
houses built and get your property and money, we are perfectly
willing you should visit with us. I know that this treaty is just as
liberal and does everything for you and for your people that can be
done. Now, if you can understand this, you can see at once that we
do not want anything to wrong any of you."
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 Nation
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)
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?"
Now, the Mormon church believed they had a divine obligation to convert Utah's American 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.
Recent DNA studies of the exact origin of the American Indian people
have scientifically proven that they came from northeast Asia. Over
150 Indian tribes and 6000 individuals have been tested. Dr. David
Glenn Smith University of Calif., Dr. Dennis O'Rourke University of
Utah, Dr. Stephen L. Wittington, and LDS Church anthropologist and
scholar Thomas Murphy have publicly stated that there is no
archeological evidence, no historical evidence, no linguistic
evidence and no DNA evidence that proves the American Indian people
are descendents of Israel, and that would prove that the Book of
Mormon is not a history of the American Indian.
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) 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."
On April 21, 1866, Mormon residents of Circleville, Utah captured 26 peaceful
Indians and locked them up in the meeting house. On the evening of
the following day some of the Indians were able to cut themselves
loose from their bindings and make a break. In the excitement, two
Indians trying to free themselves were shot and killed by the
guards. The remainder of the Indians were then taken to a potato
cellar and imprisoned there. The captured Indians knew they were
going to be killed. They could feel it. The settlers had another
meeting and it was decided among them to kill the remaining captured
Indian people. One by one they were led out of the cellar, 24 in
all—women, men, and children—and one by one their throats were cut
ear to ear and their bodies held to the ground until they bled to
death. Two young boys and one girl, seven or eight years of age,
feeling the horror, decided to try to make their escape. When the
door was opened for the next victim, the three made a break, forced
their way past the guards and ran. The guards fired several shots at
the three but were unable to hit them. One was shot in the side but
the bullet barely grazed his rib—not enough to stop him. All of the
Paiute males, five women, and two older children were killed. (See
Circleville Massacre here)
As we can see the Black Hawk War was not a single event, nor did a single event ignite the war as Mormon scholars would have us believe.
Mormon 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." Illa Chivers told the story of her grandfather putting on a leather glove and passing his hand through Mormon flour finding it had ground glass in it.
Brigham Young 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.
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.
Back 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. Near Strawberry Black Hawk met with Indian Agent Franklin Head saying he and his people were tired of war, but Franklin wasn't convienced. Black Hawk handed Indian agent 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, 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. We don't see the Mormon;s doing this, so it took a greater man to do such a thing. 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 --
"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."
Then in 1881, the White River Utes of Colorado killed an unprincipled Indian agent Named John Meeker which resulted in the Colorado Utes being forced on to the Uinta Valley Reservation. And while there have been only short periods of peace for the Timpanogos following the war, the struggle for survival has consumed the lives of the people over the past century and half. Tabby passed over at the age of 102, around the year 1898.
"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.
"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 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 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. 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)
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
To all our relations~