This is the story of a Timpanogos war Chief Antonga Black Hawk, and the circumstances that led to the Black Hawk War of Utah. In his youth Black Hawk witnessed the worst of mans inhumanity to mankind, yet he remained true to the sacred teachings of his ancestors that gave him the courage and wisdom to become his Nations pivotal leader.
When the war peaked in 1865, under the leadership of Black Hawk's uncle Chief Tabby—Black Hawk was called upon to be the Tribes War Chief. In just 15 months Black Hawk nearly succeeded in driving Mormon colonists out of Utah territory. In 1870 Black Hawk died from a gun-shot wound he received while in battle at Gravelly Ford a year earlier.
The Timpanogos are the original inhabitants of Utah Territory who were first discovered by Spanish explorers Juan Revera in 1765, and later on by Dominguez and Escalante in 1776. They describe having come in contact with "the bearded ones" Eutahs, who spoke the language of the Snake-Shoshone and called themselves "Timpanogostzis," who lived by a lake the Timpanogostzis named Timpanogos.
Dominguez and Escalante describe the Timpanogos as a loving, kind and hospitable people.
Today the Timpanogos Nation consists of about 1000 descendents of the 'Royal Bloodline' living on the Uintah Valley Reservation in Utah.
Black Hawk Memorial Spring Lake
Mary Meyer Chief Executive of the Timpanogos Nation
Descendent of Timpanogos Chief Arapeen Black Hawk's Uncle
1849 - 1873
from Phillip B Gottfredson | "Black Hawk's Mission Of Peace"
My great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson, an emigrant from Denmark arrived in Utah territory in 1857, when Wakara was alive, and lived among the Timpanogos during the Utah Black Hawk War. Peter, a friend to Black Hawk, clearly points out in his book Indian Depredations in Utah that the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Tribe ruled the entire Wasatch in the territory of Utah. Peter wrote: "It was with reluctance that the Timpanogos Indians who met the Higbee colony in March, 1848, permitted the first white settlement on Provo River..."
Following the invasion of the
Conquistadors who robbed Aboriginals of their gold and enslaved a good
number of them, then came the fur trappers. During the years of the
1700's to the early 1800's trappers would all but empty the rivers
and streams of Oregon, Idaho and Utah of the beaver population.
Literally millions of pounds of pelts would be shipped to Europe
making fur merchants wealthy beyond belief. During this time
and subsequent years to follow the British, French and Americans
would divvy up Indian land, waging war against each other when
necessary to gain control.
Through it all the Timpanogos
would emerge victorious having survived wave after wave of
Euro-invasions until the Mormons arrived in 1847 and settled on
the land of the Timpanogos the arid Wasatch front. The valley of the Great Salt Lake, had long become the crossroads of the west as trappers,
explorers and the like passed through on their way to Oregon, and
California. An old medicine man Wuna Mucca had
prophesied the coming of the missionaries decades before their
arrival. And come they did, "to worship God almighty, to save the
heathens from hell, and get rich." This European mind-set would eventually destroy the Timpanogos Nation resulting in thousands of deaths and the destruction of a vibrant and thriving culture.
Changing the conditions upon which the aboriginal people thrive was a key
element in taking over Native American lands. It meant logging, constructing
forts and towns, diverting streams, introducing thousands of
domesticated cattle, plowing and fencing vital grass lands and
planting domesticated crops, massive slaughter of buffalo herds, which devastated the Timpanogos and their precious
resources. These settlers were less dependant upon natural sources
for their food because of farming techniques, while the Indian
people were forced to travel greater distances, requiring greater
effort to find food, leaving the Timpanogos with no choice other than to
prey upon the settlers’ cattle, or die of starvation. Another example recorded is in just one
day alone, 6790 fish were taken from the Provo River with gill nets
and sent to Salt Lake as tithing, ignoring the present and future
needs of the Indigenous people.
On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young along with a party of 143 Mormons emerged from the mouth of Cottonwood canyon on a hill overlooking Salt Lake valley of the Wasatch Front, thus concluding a thousand mile journey taking 111 days by horseback and covered wagons. Brigham seeing the valley said, “Its enough, this is the right place, drive on.” The Mormons made their camp in the heart of the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Nation. The Timpanogos Indians would soon confront Brigham Young and his followers for trespassing on their ancestral land.
The Timpanogos leadership of seven brothers namely Sanpitch, Wakara, Arapeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, Grospeen and eventually Antonga Black Hawk who was the son of Sanpitch. These seven legendary leaders were referred to as "the privileged blood." They ruled every clan and village along the Wasatch. Their population was at least 70,000 and more. They were the ruling Tribe that occupied the entire territory comprised of some 250,000 square miles.
Let's also consider that when Mormon settlers arrived in 1847, a year later the Hidalgo Treaty of 1848 was signed wherein the United States agreed to "recognize Indian land holdings, and to allow Indian people to continue their customs and languages." Settlers ignored the treaty with impunity. Utah territory bordered the northern section of Mexico at this time. And it should be noted, the Hidalgo Treaty has never been abrogated or diminished and remains intact.
When Chief Wakara, the pricipal leader of the Timpanogos, confronted Brigham Young shortly after they entered the valley, he made it clear they were not welcome to settle on their land. Brigham assured Wakara that they were only passing through on their way to California. That they had made a long journey, lost many of their people along the way and were short on supplies. That they needed to spend the winter there and would move on in the spring. Wakara understood, and generously helped the Mormons survive through the winter. When spring came, the Mormons began to clear-cut the timber and build barns, houses and fences.
And there after more Mormons began to arrive in large numbers at the rate of some 3000 a month. Mormons begin seizing Timpanogos land, water holes, and timber.
In the winter of 1849, trouble began when a company of 35 Mormon militia, under the leadership of Colonel John Scott, left Salt Lake City in pursuit of a so called “renegade band of Indians” who were falsely accused of taking horses belonging to Mormon leader Brigham Young. So it followed that war with the Mormons began in earnest on February 28, 1849 with the first of six massacres at Battle Creek in the foothills above Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Scott, under orders from Brigham Young, he and his men met up with a Timpanogos they referred to as Little Chief on the Provo River. Little Chief regretfully led Scott to an encampment of Timpanogos Indians who allegedly had been doing some stealing. Moreover, it seems unlikely Little Chief would have betrayed his people in this way, more likely threatened, he gave in. The trail took the company of soldiers to the mouth of a canyon above Pleasant Grove. Scott and his men split into four groups and surrounded the camp, and opened fire on the unsuspecting people sleeping there in their teepees. It is said that the "battle" continued for a couple hours, highly unlikely since most took shelter and then were trapped in a nearby ravine, standing in freezing water, and they had only one gun, while the surrounding army pelted their victims with rocks. As they immerged from cover unarmed while troops shot them repeatedly. A Timpanogos elder named Kone, unarmed, was shot in the back as he came out of his teepee.
A brave girl about the age of 16 emerged from cover and pleaded with Colonel Scott not to harm her brother. Scott ordered her to bring her brother to him. Terrified of Scott she brought from the thicket her younger brother who bravely stood face to face with Scott and said, "Go away, what are you here for? Go away... you kill my father, my brother... for what? Go away, let us alone."
"Joshua Terry, a pioneer of 1847, and a mountain man who married into an Indian tribe, once told the writer (Howard R. Driggs) that this Indian boy became the warring leader Black Hawk. When peace came, after the Black Hawk War of the later eighteen sixties, this Chief, Terry declared, told him that he was this same boy taken after the fight on Battle Creek. He could never understand why the white men had shot down his people. It put bitterness in his heart; and though he lived for some time with the white people, his mind was ever set on avenging the wrong. That is why he later made war against them."