Timpanogos Chief Antonga Black Hawk

Arapeen Becomes Chief

by Phillip B Gottfredson author, Black Hawk's Mission of Peace


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Mary Meyer looking at bow that belonged to Arapeen
In the above photo, Mary Murdock Meyer, Chief executive of the Timpanogos Nation, examines a bow that belonged to her great-great-grandfather Chief Arapeen.

Mormon leader Brigham Young's long-time admonition to church members was to Brigham Young"Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals," came in the wake of tens of thousands of settlers who systematically spread out across the most fertile land of the Timpanogos. Many "saints" were spending time in Timpanogos camps and inviting them into their homes. To which Brigham responded in 1854, "If the inhabitants of this territory, my brethren, had never condescended to reduce themselves to the practices of the Indians, (as few of them have, to their low, degraded condition, and in some cases even lower, there never would have been any trouble between us and our red neighbors." In other words, Mormon leaders were intolerant and judgemental of aboriginal people and discriminated against them because they were different.

Following the Fort Utah Massacre, young Black Hawk was set free, and he returned to his family. For the next fifteen years, he disappears from history. Nothing more is written about Black Hawk until 1865, when Chief Tabby calls him to lead his warriors into battle against the Mormons. My personal opinion is that Black Hawk was severely traumatized following Battle Creek and Fort Utah. I believe he spent time with his immediate family while receiving counsel from his elders. I am confident he was deeply spiritual, as we see when he takes leadership as War Chief. Black Hawk was intelligent and could make up his mind in a hurry. Accounts say that he sat in Mormon meetings more than once as a youth and listened to their plans to defend themselves against the Indians. And that Black Hawk had traits of strong conscience and loyalty to his people.

As the war continued becoming an even more significant threat to the indigenous people in the territory, I am sure that Black Hawk was keenly aware of his uncles' daily leadership challenges. There can be no doubt that he also attended meetings with his tribal leaders.

The Timpanogos Nation believed that their only source of hope and strength was to remain faithful to their ancestors' ancient and sacred teachings.

The Timpanogos peoples were deeply connected to the land of their ancestors and the beauty that surrounded them, the majestic mountains, lakes, and streams. They were deeply connected to the plants in all their endless forms and uses, maintaining a harmonious relationship with the animals and all living things. They understood and respected these things as sacred gifts from a greater power. They were neither "savage" nor "heathens," rather a prosperous and profoundly spiritual civilization. For the Timpanogos Nation, the Black Hawk War was never about possessions; the land was their mother, nourishing all her children; it belonged to everyone. It was about honor.

The Timpanogos were business people. They were traders. They had traded in horses, leather goods, silver, and many other valuable goods for a long time. Their trade routes reached from the Colombia River to the Gulf of Mexico.

"The Spanish Trail was a major trade route between New Mexico and Los Angeles. The Spanish Trail measures 1,120 miles long and passes through New Mexico, then enters Utah from the east near Ucolo, Utah, about 15 miles east of Monticello, and continues roughly northwesterly to about the town of Green River, Emery County. A large section of the trail curves north to pass through central and southern Utah before bending south again and passing out of the state. Much of the route in southwestern Utah is now Interstate 70."

And so it was that the Timpanogos Indians occupied a vast area; they prospered and thrived off the trade routes. And now we understand why we see Chief Wakara having much to do with large herds of horses.

However, the Mormon population grew, and the aboriginal population declined through disease and the destruction of the environment. Mormon leaders moved to disrupt their trade of horses, thereby undermining the Tribe's wealth and power.

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. Wakara met with leaders from the various Bands of the Timpanogos Tribe and advised them that the Mormons were the kind of people who lie about being believers in God and that their way was to live in peace lovingly. That he had mistakenly trusted the Mormons when they swore no harm would come to them and that Brigham would not take their lands. Wakara quickly learned they were people he could not trust. Wakara kept his promises. He had helped them through the winter, and now he regretted helping them. Feeling betrayed and confused, he had to answer to his Tribe.

Wakara certainly could launch 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. Wakara approaches the situation in a more honorable way. He first sat in council with his brothers Sowiette, Sanpitch, Arapeen, Ammon, Tabby, Grospeen to determine how to approach the situation. He then meets with Brigham Young looking for answers in a diplomatic way.

In July 1853, Wakara was camped on Spring Creek near Springville; when a Mormon settler killed a member of the band, he said he had mistaken for a rabbit, which led to the deaths of two more Timpanogos. Wakara demanded the killer be brought before him. Brigham Young refused his request. This was in part what precipitated the "Walker War."

Wakara and his band of warriors returned in war paint raided the settlements of Utah, Juab, Sanpete, Millard, and Iron Counties during the summer and fall. The last engagement was at the south end of Utah Lake, generally spoken of as the Goshen Valley battle, which lasted about three hours; the troops taking the Indian camp. Nine Indians were killed; some of the troops and horses were shot, but none mortally.

1855, on January 29th, Wakara died a sudden death at Meadow Creek in Millard County. History scholars told me someone in the church poisoned him.


Chief Arapeen becomes leader

Following Chief Wakara's death, his brother Arapeen became Chief of the Timpanogos Nation. Wakara and his brother Arapeen were inseparable and had road together side-by-side since their childhood days. Arapeen was chosen by the Tribe to be their leader. Chief Arapeen, during his five-year leadership, would strive to hold his people together as bloody confrontations with the Mormons continued to escalate. Arapeen getting on in years, turned to his son Yenewood "Jake" Arapeen to lead his warriors into battle.

The book My Journey to Understand Black Hawk's Mission of Peace author Phillip B Gottfredson


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The Tintic war, Salt Creek Battle, Mountain Meadows Massacre, Chicken Creek Battle, the arrival of Johnston's Army, smallpox was spreading, killing his people, and the Bear River Massacre, which proved disastrous to Utah's Native people.

Johnston's Army waylaid in the dead of winter...

Col. Johnston and his Army of 2500 U.S. troops were sent to Utah in 1857-1858, while Young's good fortune was that government funds and resources were diverted to the Civil War, leaving Johnston at a disadvantage once they arrived. Brigham seized the moment and gave the order for Johnston's wagons and food to be burned. A faithful follower by the name of Lot Smith carried out the order, causing 2500 men to suffer extreme hardship during the bitter cold of winter.

Under the orders of Brigham, the Nauvoo militia stole 800 of the 1,400 head of cattle with the Army there. While Mormons severely punished famished Timpanogos for stealing even a cow. Mormons not only stole cattle from the United States Government, but they also destroyed the Army's 2720 pounds of ham, 92,700 of bacon, 167,900 of flour, 8910 of coffee, 1400 of sugar, 1333 of soap, 800 of sperm candles, 765 of tea, 7781 of hard bread, and 68,832 rations of desiccated vegetables.

The Bear River Massacre has been ignored. "It was not in the interest of key players—the military and the Mormons—to remember, and the decimated Northwestern Bands of the Shoshone had no voice in the nation that came to surround them. The battle, as it was initially regarded, was celebrated in Salt Lake City, especially by the military. What few records there are indicate that between 250 and 350 Shoshones died, although some suggest nearly 500 perished. Paul Hutton, a historian of the Indian Wars at the University of New Mexico, said he had never heard of the Bear River Massacre when he got his first teaching job at Utah State University in 1977." - Salt Lake Tribune

There were no legal treaties made between the Timpanogos and the Mormons. Only the federal government had the authority to make such treaties with the Indians. Congress in 1864 authorized Treaty Negotiations for the Indians of Utah Territory, and on June 8, 1865 the Spanish Fork Treaty was negotiated with the Timpanogos Nation. However, the treaty would fail ratification as it bore the signature of Brigham Young, thus leaving intact the Uinta Valley Reservation, land belonging to the Timpanogos. Congress declared "rather than associate with Brigham Young on such an occasion, they would have the negotiations fail; they would rather the Indians, than the Mormons, would have the land." - Commission of Indian Affairs Annual Report 1865, O.H. Irish

The environment of Utah's Timpanogos was now drastically altered from logging and the introduction of domesticated cattle and horses numbering in the thousands. Settlers farming domesticated crops and cattle meant that Natives could not depend on the natural environment for their food supply. While the Timpanogos were excellent and well-seasoned hunters and gatherers, they required a large land expanse to sustain their communities. The settlers knew this and systematically killed the deer and elk and slaughtered massive numbers of buffalo. Colonists almost always settled on the most fertile land. They emptied the rivers and streams of fish by over-fishing them with gill nets. An example recorded is in just one day alone, 6790 fish were taken from the Provo River with gill nets by Mormons and sent to Salt Lake as tithing, ignoring the present and future needs of the Indigenous people. Ultimately, they were faced with the agonizing realization that Mormon colonists were forcing them into surrendering.

Changing the conditions upon which the aboriginal people thrived was vital in taking over Native American lands. It meant logging, constructing forts and towns, diverting streams, introducing thousands of domesticated cattle, plowing and fencing critical grasslands, planting domesticated crops, and massive slaughter of buffalo herds, which devastated the Timpanogos and their precious resources. In contrast, Mormon settlers were less dependent upon natural sources for their food because of farming techniques. At the same time, the Timpanogos people had two choices, to travel greater distances requiring more significant effort to find food. Or prey upon the settlers' cattle, or die of starvation.

Brigham and his followers were by no means strangers to persecution or being demoralized. Having been exiled from their homes in Illinois by angry mobs, they sought refuge in Utah territory. John W. Gunnison wrote, "It's a curious matter of reflection, that those whose mission it is to convert these aborigines by the sword of the spirit, should thus be obliged to destroy them." The ambiguities and ironies in the mistreatment of the Native people are perplexing. It would seem natural that the Mormon people would show compassion toward the Timpanogos.

Brigham's relentless disregard for Timpanogos' land rights and utter intolerance of their culture is cloaked in his rhetoric to "Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals." It then comes as no surprise that, unfairly, far more emphasis has been given by historians to Brigham's Indian policy efforts than Timpanogos leaders who demonstrated humility and willingness to compromise. Historians have never recognized the Timpanogos for their peace efforts. Meaningless and numerous so-called "treaties" were divisive and broken at will by Mormon leaders.

As Brigham continued using church funds waging war against the Timpanogos, he engaged such noted serial killers as "Wild Bill" Hickman, Porter Rockwell, and John D. Lee. Lee baptized Wild Bill Hickman into the church. John D. Lee and Rockwell were sealed to Brigham Young in the temple. Lee led the massacre at Mountain Meadows. Hickman and Rockwell both were serial killers and Brigham's bodyguards.

In 1861, President Lincoln set aside over four million acres of land in the northeastern region of Utah as reservation land for the Timpanogos. But before he Uintah Valley Reservation, he asked Brigham Young if he felt the land was suitable. Brigham answered, "The only purpose the land has is to hold together the two halves of the world." In other words, it was worthless and therefore perfect for a reservation. For President Lincoln to ask Brigham, his opinion suggests that Mormon leaders had a working relationship. However, only four years earlier, Brigham had committed the treasonous act of destroying government property, leaving Johnston's army stranded—a crime for which neither Brigham nor the perpetrators were ever held accountable.

At the same time, the United States was engaging in the Civil War, and Kit Carson has forced the Navajo peoples to Redondo; the Black Hawk War begins in the winter of 1864-65. Interestingly, Connors, Brigham Young, and Kit Carson were each 30 degree Masons. One cannot begin to imagine the difficulties Arapeen had to deal with and the toll it took on him as a human.

1865 Chief Arapeen passes out of this world and his brother Tabby becomes Chief of the Timpanogos Nation. Chief Tabby asks Chief Arapeen's son Jake (Yene-wood) to be his war Chief.

Then the Black Hawk War, "a small band of Indians was camped near Gunnison, Sanpete County (Utah). It is said that they contracted Smallpox, and that many died. The Indians seemed to think that the white people were to blame in some way for this and were threatening to kill the whites and steal their horses and cattle in an attempt to get them to leave. Arrangements were consequently made for a meeting between the Indians and the whites at Manti on the 9th of April, 1865, to talk over matters.

A number of prominent Timpanogos came to Manti. They met at Jerome Kempton's place (about four blocks south of town), and it appeared that an understanding would be arrived at, but a young Chief (Yene-wood), also known as Jake Arapeen (Chief Arapeen's son), could not be pacified. Peter Gottfredson, my great-grandfather, wrote that "John Lowry, believed drunk at the time, told the Chief to keep quiet, when someone yelled, 'lookout he's getting his arrows!' Lowry jerked the Chief (by his hair) off of his horse and was about to abuse him when some men stepped in and broke them up." Lowry said, "I told him a time or two to stop and to permit me to finish my talk. Just then someone called out 'lookout, he is getting his arrows!' I rode up to him and turned him off his horse, and pulled him to the ground. The bystanders interfered and we separated. In those early days it was at times imperative that harsh measures should be used. We had to do these things, or be run over by them. It was a question of supremacy between the white man and the Indian."

John Lowry made it clear that it was "a matter of supremacy." That Whiteman had the right to destroy the 'Indian.' It was not surprising to Lowery when Mormon apostle George A. Smith, a cousin to Church Founder Joseph Smith Jr., declared that the Indian people "have no right to their land." Then instructed the all-Mormon legislature to "extinguish all titles" and get them out of the way and onto reservations, violating Utah Indian's aboriginal rights as a sovereign nation.

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