A Sacred Journey... A Forgotten Hero
PARKER, Ariz. – Phillip B. Gottfredson shares an intimate perspective of the Timpanogos peoples of Utah and the Black Hawk War of 1849 to 1873 in his debut Native American history book titled “My Journey to Understand ... Black Hawk’s Mission of Peace” (published by Archway Publishing).
Some 70,000 Timpanogos Indians — the aboriginal people of Utah — died from violence, starvation, and disease after Mormon colonists stole their land and destroyed their culture over a 21-year timeframe according to the detailed account Gottfredson learned from the Native Americans. Because few people know anything about Timpanogos Indians, who they are, or what they believed in, the author seeks to educate readers about them.
“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. 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.”
About the Author
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.
My journey became a spiritual one that completely transformed any preconceived notions I had about Native American people. As all spoke to me of the seven sacred teachings Honesty, Love, Courage, Truth, Wisdom, Humility, and Respect. 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.
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.
I look at Black Hawk, and I see him as a human being 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.
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.