Brief Description of the Black Hawk War in Utah

By Phillip B Gottfredson

The Black Hawk War in Utah began with Mormon settlers who came to Utah territory in 1847. Native Indian peoples who had inhabited the territory for thousands of years, referred to as the Timpanogos Indians, were in disagreement with settlers who where encroaching upon their ancestral land. Timpanogos Indian war leader Black Hawk, along with his uncle Tabby, unleashed a fury upon the Mormons they hadn't before 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 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. He nearly succeeded in driving the Mormons out of Utah.

Mormon Church Leader Brigham Young spent over one million dollars of church funds to rid the land of Indian inhabitants resulting in six horrific massacres, and some 150 bloody confrontations that took place between 1849 and 1870. 238 whites and 932 American Indians were killed. This does NOT include the untold thousands of Indian peoples who died from starvation and disease brought on by Mormon settlement. Scholars estimate there being between 40,000 and 70,000 Indian peoples when the settlers arrived in 1847. United States government census of 1909 reveals just 2300 Natives remained alive when they were forced onto reservations where 500 more died in the first year from starvation. Today the Timpanogos population is about 900.

I was probably first to launch a comprehensive website of Utah's Black Hawk War in 2001. A work-in-progress, I make frequent updates and revisions as my research continues. There are 73 pages on this website that deal with the harsh realities of the Black Hawk War of Utah and it's legacy. Taken from personal journals, state and LDS Church archives, old newspapers, and books; each giving firsthand eyewitness accounts of the mistreatment of Utah's American Indians at the hands of the Mormon pioneers. Also many stories come from my great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson's book Indian Depredations in Utah, he was a friend to the Timpanogos Indians and spent most of his time living in the Indian camps during the war. Most imprtant are my personal interviews with living descendents of legendary Timpanogos leaders, like my g-grandfather Peter, I have been living among the Native Peoples learning from them their history and life-ways. My quest for the truth has taken all over the Western United States and as far south as Gutamala and the Myan. This website is a compilation of my own personal decade long research of the Black Hawk War in Utah: Utah's Forgotten Tragedy.

I hope you find value in my work, it has truly been a labor of love.

Phillip B Gottfredson