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by Phillip B Gottfredson

Ute Chief Walkara - Black Hawk Productions

Walkara was leader of the Timpanogos Tribe. 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 'Walkara" is Shoshoni by origin means Hawk. Walkara 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 was from the Snake-Shoshone Tribe, he spoke 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 Walkara'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 Walkara 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, Walkara, Arropeen, Sanpitch, Grospean, Amman, and Sowiette. Sanpitch is believed to be the father of Black Hawk. (See Black Hawk War Facts)

 

Chief Walkara Interview

blackhawkproductions.com - Will BagleyIn 1853 Timpanogos 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

"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, Walkara 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. Walkara demanded the killer be brought before him. His request was refused by Brigham Young. This in part precipitated the "Walker War."

Walkara'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.

Chief Walkara of the Timpanogos is in power at this time. He has been honorably chosen as leader by his tribe because first he was groomed by his family to be a leader and warrior by his family who themselves were all leaders going far back in time.

Shoshone communities were based upon true democracy. Humility to the Native peoples meant no one person was above all others. Every individual was respected equally. Family and community were inseparable and cohesively bound together in an environment of Honesty, Love, Courage, Truth, Wisdom, Humility, and Respect. Even animals and all things Creator created were seen by Native peoples as having a purpose, and each possessing special gifts and talents. When decisions were made within Native communities everyone had to be in agreement before action was taken, it was the honorable way to live. Within the communities each family took on particular roles, for example medicine people, warriors, weavers, hunters and gatherers etc. were the responsibility of individual families respectfully. Elders, who were the old and wise, they had the greatest influence in the community because they earned their respect. They were the spokespersons, teachers and keepers of wisdom.

This is the way Walkara was groomed to become a great leader of his people when the time came. As a representative of his people he could speak on their behalf. He understood he was responsible for their security and well being. When his people hurt, he hurt. When they were happy, he was happy. He was responsible for their very lives and cultural integrity. When the Timpanogos heard what happened at Battle Creek and Fort Utah they were stricken with fear, enraged and heart was broken and scattered in all directions. And as with any leader Walkara's honor was being threatened for the extreme trauma his kin experienced at Fort Utah. For the murder of Old Bishop, the murders of old men, women, and children who were innocent of any wrong doing.

Walkara's vengeance was not immediate. Within less than three months following the massacre, Fort Utah was dismantled and moved a short distance south to the newly formed community of Provo. Certain that Walkara met with leaders from the various bands of the Timpanogos Tribe and advised them that the Mormons were a kind of people who lie about being believers in God, and that their way was to live in peace in a loving way. That he had mistakenly trusted the Mormons when they swore no harm would come to them and their lands would not be taken from them. Walkara quickly learned they were a people who could not be trusted. They did not walk their talk. They would say one thing and do another. Whereas Walkara kept his promises, he had helped them through the winter, now he regretted helping them, feeling betrayed and confused he had to answer to his Tribe. Walkara certainly was capable of launching an all out attack on the Mormons and could have driven them out of Utah territory and would have been justified to do so. But that was not the way of the Timpanogos. The Timpanogos way is to preserve life, not to destroy it. Walkara approaches the situation in a more honorable way. He first sat in council with his brothers Sowiette, Sanpitch, Arropeen, Ammon, Tabby, Grospeen, and others to determine the best way to approach the situation. He takes the high road and meets with Brigham Young looking for answers in a diplomatic way. Mormon Church scholars describe this meeting saying “Walkara begged Brigham to be baptized into the Church,” as though he had surrendered to Brigham Young. No, a man like Walkara would not 'beg' much less surrender. It is more likely Walkara had enough respect for Brigham Young as a fellow human being and leader he would have made some concessions and compromise, for Walkara's allegiance was to himself and his people and to the land of his ancestors. And if that meant joining the Church to appease Brigham, so be it. You don't see the Mormons making such efforts for peace, so it took a better man to use such diplomacy, only a coward would sneak up on innocent people in the night massacring them with guns and cannons filled with chain-shot. Walkara and his brothers were a men of honor, and would find any means possible to avoid the shedding of innocent blood.

1855, January 29th.-----Walkara 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 Walkara's burial that are false, for example "Walkara 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 Walkara'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 Walkara, 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 Walkara'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, Walkara 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 Walkara but of Native peoples of Utah. The Paiutes were Walkara's own blood relations, his own people. The Timpanogos Tribe, and more importantly direct descendents of Walkara 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 Walkara 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. Walkara was chosen to be their leader because he exemplified the highest standards and ideals of his people. Living defendants of Walkara 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 Walkara 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.