"Native American history is an integral part of this country’s history,” Gottfredson says. “After all is said and done, after the Black Hawk War and all the suffering it caused, I make this one conclusion: It isn’t about the war. It isn’t about religion. It isn’t about owning land and having material wealth. It’s not about power. In the end, it’s about the human condition. It is to know that
because you were born human,
it gives you superiority over nothing.
It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit. There is no such thing as race. Race is man’s invention to create divisions and separations, the building of walls and fences to segregate us from one another, to have power over each other. There is but one race, the human race. It’s about humanity, human equality, aboriginal rights and a sovereign people. It’s about there being one world, one prayer, and one heart. Having compassion toward all our relations.”
"It began in 1989 for my brother and I when our father passed away, and he left us a book that his grandfather Peter Gottfredson wrote about the times he spent living among Native Americans during the Black Hawk War when he was in his teens. My brother gave the book to me which I then read. It was a firsthand account of the war. Peter described all manner of atrocities Black Hawk had suffered, but it was one short passage where Peter briefly explained what he called "Black Hawk's mission of peace" that was so significant and in contridition to our own biased perception of Native Americans — I couldn't let go of the image it created. Whereas, Black Hawk who personally witnessed the worst kind of man’s inhumanity to man. Dying from a gunshot wound, he traveled a hundred and eighty miles on horseback to make peace with the white man. He apologized for the pain and suffering he caused them, and he asked them to do the same and end the bloodshed. We didn't see white people do this in the early chapters of our country. It took a great man — Antonga Black Hawk — to do such a thing. That is what has been left out of the white man’s history."
"We were so captivated by great-grandfathers account we had to know more about his experiences living with Native people. Looking back now, it was like letting the genie out of the bottle. It was that simple but powerful story that set my brother and I on a path that took us deep into the lives of Native Americans to learn why Black Hawk could find it in his heart to forgive those who had brought such violence and devastation to his people... for a reason and a purpose that we wouldn't understand until many years later."
"We have heard it said that we should follow our hearts in all that we do. And this is the essence of my book. It's a true story of how we, both of us retired, made the decision together to sell all of our material possessions to be free of any responsibilities, and follow our hearts to learn who Antonga Black Hawk was, and what it means to be a Native American. And the day we left on our journey we made a pact to each other that we would accept whomever and whatever stood before us without judgment, and put aside any and all expectations. Putting all our faith in ourselves and the universe we ventured into the unknown."
"Six years into our journey my brother walked over, and before he died, I asked him, "do you have any regrets...?" to which he replied, "It has been the best years of my life Phil...you must continue the journey, it's not about you or me, it's about all of us." It was a terrible blow to lose my brother, but I knew in my heart I had to pick up the troche and complete the journey alone, turning back was not an option. I felt a deep moral and spiritual obligation to continue."
"It was pure serendipity that my journey evolved from researching the Black Hawk War and morphed into my own spiritual quest, which completely transformed my personal views about life and any preconceived notions I had about Native American people. As all spoke to me of the 'seven sacred teachings,' my Native friends said this to me: "The message of Indigenous America is connection, relationship, and unity. All people are one. One of the direct living descendants of Creator." Chief Joseph said, “We have no qualms about color. It has no meaning. It doesn't mean anything." And I believe that was Black Hawk’s message too."
As a historian Phillip B Gottfredson has spent the past 20 years researching and writing about the Black Hawk War in Utah while living with various Native American tribes throughout North and South America. He was invited to participate in numerous sacred ceremonies and received council from many tribal elders and leaders, which is unusual among today’s historians. Because Gottfredson is personally involved in Native American culture, his account brings an alternate perspective to a war that has historically been examined from the perspective of Mormon colonizers. For his advocacy for the First Nations people of Utah, the Utah State Division of Indian Affairs awarded him the prestigious Indigenous Day Award.
"When I was invited to live with a Shoshone family who followed the life-ways and traditions of their ancestors, I then traveled North, South, East and West learning from Native American Tribes from Washington and the Makah to Guatemala and the Mayan, and everywhere in between."
"Many years passed before I discovered a forgotten tribe living on the Uintah Valley Reservation in the remote north-eastern section of Utah that no-one talked about. Consisting of about one thousand members, the Timpanogos are Snake-Shoshoni and the direct living descendants of Antonga Black Hawk, Wakara, Tabby, Arapeen, Sanpitch, Grospean, and Aman — the Chiefs who figured most prominently in all the histories of the Black Hawk War. Deliberately marginalized and written out of Utah’s history, the Timpanogos people welcomed me into their tribe where I spent five years living with them. Like my great-grandfather Peter, who lived among these people during the war, I felt it more than a mere coincidence that I should have the honor of learning from them as well."
"There is much we can learn from Native people if only we would listen. If only we would get out of our heads, and listen with our hearts we would see truth and have compassion for the people history has forgotten."
"In collaboration with the Timpanogos Nation, I have made every effort to accurately portray the Timpanogos recollections of the war, their culture, and their sacred life-ways."