by Phillip B Gottfredson

Ute Chief Walkara - Black Hawk Productions

Wakara was leader of the Timpanogos. Born 1808 near the Spanish Fork river in Utah, an area which had long been the home of his family and kin located in the central area of Utah. He was a member of the Timpanogos tribe. The name 'Wakara" is Shoshoni by origin means Hawk. Wakara would learn from an early age the necessary skills of hunting, horsemanship, and leadership. He would be chosen by his people the Timpanogos to carry on his families long legacy of legendary leaders. He spoke Shoshone, Spanish and English, necessary to carry on with the tribes commercial enterprise trading in furs, horses, silver, jewelry and tanned leather goods. They had long established a trade rout; from the Columbia river to the Gulf of Mexico dating back as far as the mid 1500's.



There are many different spellings of Wakara's name, for example: Walker, Walkara, Walkera, maybe some others. However according to his living descendents they prefer Wakara. The different spellings becomes problematic for internet searches since the most popular version is Walker. This spelling is obviously the English version, whereas Wakara is most certainly Native Indian. Indian names have always been spelled phonetically, which explains why all the different versions.

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

According to 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 word meaning People of the Rock, whose leader was Turunianchi, who occupied what is now known as Utah. Dominguez named Mt. 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. So it follows when the Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young arrived in Utah territory in 1847, the Native peoples they first encountered were the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Indian Tribe led by the seven grandsons of Turunianchi Tabby, Wakara, Arropeen, Sanpitch, Grospean, Amman, and Sowiette. Sanpitch is believed to be the father of Black Hawk. (See Black Hawk War Facts)


Chief Wakara Interview - Will BagleyIn 1853 Timpanogos leader Wakara (Black Hawk's uncle) told interpreter M. S. Martenas, "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 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

"However, the Mormon population grew and the Indian population declined through disease and destruction of food resources. Mormon leaders moved to disrupt the Mexican trade in horses and people (a law against the Mexican slave trade was passed by the territorial legislature in 1853, thereby undermining the Tribes wealth and power." (Note: The territorial legislature were all Mormons)

In July 1853, Wakara was camped on Spring Creek near Springville, when a Mormon settler killed a Timpanogos he said he had mistaken for a rabbit, which led to the deaths of two more Timpanogos. Wakara demanded the killer be brought before him. His request was refused by Brigham Young. This in part precipitated the "Walker War."

Wakara's vengeance was also fueled by previous events that unfolded at Battle Creek when his family was murdered, and Fort Utah where his kin were brutally attacked and beheaded. Throughout his life among the Mormons he made every effort to live peacefully with them.


Having been requested by State commander J. M. Westwood of the Utah Indian War Veterans Association to write up the cause of the Walker War, having been a resident of Springville at the time, and being well acquainted with James Ivie, who was the principal actor in the drama that caused the war, I submit the following as told to me by Ivie at the time, and on several occasions since the war.

Walker, the war chief of the Timpanogos nation, with his braves and their families were camped on Spring creek about one mile north of the present town of Springville, (Utah Co., Utah) all at peace with the white settlers, spending their time fishing and hunting, and trading and begging from the people. James Ivie, at that time had built a cabin, and was living in it with his wife and one child about half a mile north and west of where the Indians were camped. In the forenoon of July 17, 1853, an Indian and squaw came in- to Ivie's cabin. The squaw had three large trout which she wanted to trade to Mrs. Ivie for some flour. Flour being very scarce at that time, Mrs. Ivie called her husband in to get his views on the trade of that kind, he being at work digging a well. When he saw the trout, he said "They look mighty good to me," and suggested that Mrs. Ivie might give three pints of flour for them, if the squaw would trade that way. He then went out of the cabin to resume his work. Just after Ivie left two more Indians came into the cabin, one of whom seemed to be the husband or had some kind of claim on the squaw who had closed the trade with Mrs. Ivie. When this Indian saw the three trout, and the small amount of flour received in exchange, he became enraged and began beating the squaw, knocking her down, kicking and stamping her in a brutal manner. While this assault was being committed, Mrs. Ivie ran and called her husband, Mr. Ivie came to the cabin, and while the Indian was still beating the squaw he took hold of the Indian and pulled him away, the squaw lying prostrate on the floor. Ivie tried to push the Indian out of the cabin. When the Indian came, he left his gun standing by the door, and as Ivie pushed him out he grabbed his gun and tried to get in position to shoot Ivie. Ivie got hold of the muzzle of the gun, and in the struggle the gun was broken. The Indian retaining the stock and Ivie the barrel. When the gun broke, Ivie dealt the Indian a hard blow on the head with the barrel of the gun. The Indian fell to the ground, apparently dead, but did not expire until some hours later. The other Indian who came to the cabin the same time as his companion drew his bow and arrow and shot Ivie, the arrow passing through the shoulder of Ivie's buckskin hunting shirt. At this Ivie struck the Indian a violent blow and he fell unconscious by the side of the prostrate body of the other Indian. Just as Ivie got through with this second Indian, the squaw that he had been trying to protect came out of the cabin door with a stick of wood in her hand which she had picked up by the side of the fire in the cabin. With it she struck Ivie a blow in the face cutting a deep gash in his upper lip, and the scar showed plainly from that time until his death. Ivie again used the gun barrel to defend himself and struck the squaw. She fell uncon- scious by the side of the prostrate bodies of the two Indians.

At this stage in the drama Joseph Kelly one of the foremost settlers of Springville, came upon the scene, and while looking at the three In- Indians lying apparently dead he was told by Ivie what had taken place. Kelly took a bucket of water that stood in the cabin and poured it on the Indians, trying to restore them. He then sent the Indian who first came to the cabin with the squaw for another bucket of water to try to restore the Indians to life ; this Indian having taken no part in the trouble.

Kelly told Ivie to take his wife and child and go into town before the Indian camp was notified of the trouble, which he did. The Indian that Kelly sent after the water went to the Indian camp and told of what had taken place at the Ivie cabin. The news of the trouble soon spread through the camp and the settlement of whites. Intense excitement reigned, both in the Indian camp and the settlement. Bishop Aaron Johnson, who was chief magistrate in all civil and military affairs at Springville, took immediate steps to protect the settlement. He ordered Caldwell's cavalry and Parry 's infantry to be mustered in and be ready for action at call. All the other male citizens over sixteen years of age were enrolled as a home guard. Johnson with his interpreter, Wm. Smith, tried everything in their power to settle the trouble with Chief Walker, by offering ponies, beef, flour, and blankets, but Walker refused to settle unless Ivie was given up to be tried by the Indians, which Johnson refused to do.

The next day (July 18th) Walker broke camp and went to Payson; joined his brother Arropeen another Indian chief, and together they went into Payson canyon, killing Alexander Keele who was on guard at the outskirts of Payson, saying, that, the war would last until the white people were all ex- terminated. The Indians then went into the mountains east of Sanpete Valley and left their families in a place of safety.

The Indians returning in war paint, raided the settlements of Utah, Juab, Sanpete, Millard and Iron Counties during the summer and fall. The last engagement was at the south end of Utah Lake generally spoken of as the Goshen Valley battle, which lasted about three hours; the troops taking the Indian camp. Nine Indians were killed; some of the troops and horses were shot, but none mortally. Some Indians and their families came down Hobble Creek canyon to Springville a short time after, saying that the war was over. A short time after Caldwell's cavalry and Parry's infantry were released from duty, having served a period of ninety-one days ; from July 18th to October 15, 1853. The treaty of peace was signed by Walker in May, 1854, at his camp on Meadow Creek, Juab Co. Signed Lieut. Geo. McKenzie,

Wakara would become a member of the LDS Church, was Chief at the time, but would die an untimely death in 1854. However, Wakara was poisoned. And it is one of Utah's darkest truths that it was not uncommon for anti-Indian settlers to poison the Indians' food and water sources.

1855, January 29th.-----Wakara was a patriot, who had so long defended his people and land, died at Meadow Creek, in Millard County, and was succeeded by his brother Arropeen. Among his final words he admonished his his tribe to live at peace with the settlers and not molest them.

There are several stories about Wakara's burial that are false, for example "Wakara was buried in a sepulchre of stone on the rugged eastern hillside above this little community of Meadow. His grave was located up Dry Canyon, the first canyon north of Corn Creek. On the day of burial two of his squaws and some Paiute children were offered up as sacrifice. Besides his weapons, trinkets, presents, the two squaws and two girls, a young boy was fastened alive to the pedestal beside Wakara's body. It is presumed the grave was robbed by whites in 1909." Interesting, but I lived with Perry Murdock for a couple months who is a direct descendent of Wakara, and when I asked him if his great-grandfather was buried with two children he was puzzled. "I can tell you we (Timpanogos) would never do such a thing, that's not our tradition. No, that wouldn't happen. we have sacrificed a horse sometimes so the person's favorite animal would be with him, but we would never treat children that way." He went on to tell me that Wakara's body was exhumed by tribal members and reburied to a secrete location where his remains would be undisturbed by grave robbers. That occurred in the early 1900's.

Yet another story that has no merit is that he also stole children of other tribes and made them slaves. That he and his men would raid Paiute bands and take women and children prisoner. He would sell the slaves to Spanish or Mexican traders and explorers, who would take them back to New Mexico to work in the mines or as domestic servants. In return, Wakara would get guns, ammunition, and other goods. He also sold children to the Mormon settlers, threatening to kill the children if he couldn't sell them. 

This is a gross misrepresentation not only of Chief Wakara but of Native peoples of Utah. The Paiutes were Wakara's own blood relations, his own people. The Timpanogos Tribe, and more importantly direct descendents of Wakara have never been given the opportunity to tell their side of the story. They have, however, told me in person that it is absurd to think Wakara would do such a thing. A man who for most of his life was not only a respected leader of the Timpanogos, but man of great character. For him to steal children from his own blood relations would have brought shame and disgrace upon himself and his tribe. Wakara was chosen to be their leader because he exemplified the highest standards and ideals of his people. Living defendants of Wakara gave me their version saying that "When the Mormons arrived and fighting broke out our people scattered in all directions for safety. Our children whose parents were killed Wakara rescued them and took them to our own people for safety, and so they wouldn't end up in Brigham Young's custody. Brigham would take our children, those of our leaders for his own protection knowing we wouldn't attack his home where our children were."

All Timpanogos leaders came from the same bloodline dating back centuries, whether they were the warriors, the spiritual leaders, weavers, medicine men, etc., each family bloodline maintained individual traditions all of which contributed to the well-being of the community.