Black Hawk's Mission of Peace
by Author Phillip B Gottfredson
Following the incident at Manti, Timpanogos leader Jake Arrapeen, Chief Arapeen's son, being dishonored before his people, resigned his leadership to his cousin Black Hawk, who saw it as the final blow after some 21 years of Mormon depredations. and so it followed the Timpanogos Tribal warriors rallied under the new leadership of Tabby's nephew Black Hawk, whom Tabby had asked to lead as his War-Chief, and declared war on the Mormons. Black Hawk's campaign of vengeance would last just 15 months. This marked the beginning of what the whites first dubbed “the Mormon War”, then "The Utah War" and later "The Black Hawk War."
Black Hawk, or Antonga as he is sometimes called, was born at Spring Lake, Utah circa 1830, Black Hawk, was bright and intelligent with a good sense of humor. He was the son of Sanpitch He was from his childhood groomed to be a warrior honoring the traditions of his Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos ancestors. His charismatic personality and natural leadership ability made him likable among both his own people and the whites. As a young man, he was educated in Jesse Williams Fox's school in Manti which implies he learned to speak English, could read and write and learned mathematics.
My father told me Peter was invited into Black Hawk's camp on numerous occasions during the war. It is well documented that Black Hawk was a compassionate leader.
He was resistant to killing, and only then in self-defense, that being consistent with traditional beliefs of the Timpanogos. Conditioned by his own personal torment, having witnessed his people becoming increasingly ill from smallpox and measles, and seeing the slow agonizing death from starvation - was unbearable. Mormons had taken all their game, making it ever more difficult traveling greater distances to find food to support their large population. Often Black Hawk went without food himself to help his people. Often he called upon Great Spirit for guidance, and to make peace with the spirit world.
Black Hawk deserves a lot of praise for being true to the his ancestors teachings. In the Indian way, being a true warrior wasn't about killing the enemy, or being physically superior. A fighter will kill, or be killed. A warrior will always try to preserve life. That's why Black Hawk always offered up prayers before going into battle, with ceremony and dance. And as survivor, he made offerings to the enemy's family and was cleansed in holy ceremony. As a warrior he preferred 'taking coup' to taking a life. Black Hawk put family and tribe above all else. It was not about him, he followed his people's codes and traditions, and helped his people who were starving, often going without, himself. He was humble, kind, gentle, honest, fair and patient in all affairs. Antongua was a teacher, as were his ancestors before him, he forged the way for others to follow.
But, the hellish terror of his people's suffering was overwhelming as he saw their hearts fill with hopelessness and despair. By his twenties Black Hawk had already witnessed with extreme agony the senseless murders of his family at Battle Creek, and the gruesome beheading of his kin at Fort Utah, the murder of his uncle Wakara, and the disrespect shown towards his uncle Arrapeen. Then in 1863, when 593 Shoshone men women and children were brutally massacred at Bear River, and all the other injustices his people were suffering from...the task that lay before his must have seemed overwhelming.
Meanwhile, just as the Transcontinental Rail Road was being completed at Promontory Point in Utah, Black Hawk, under the leadership of his uncle Tabby, unleashed a fury upon the Mormons they hadn't 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 demonstrated incredible skill as 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. Some say he nearly succeeded in driving the Mormons out of Utah. Skills I believe he learned from Wakara.
Within a year, Black Hawk was mortally wounded in battle while attempting to rescue a fallen warrior Shi-Nav-Egin (son of the sun), whites called him Whitehorse, as he always rode a white horse.
Mormons said that Whitehorse had a "superstitious power over his warriors" suggesting he was perhaps possessed. In reality, Shi-Nav-Egin had survived a near death experience, and having lived, his people believed he had a great mission yet to accomplish. And being a deeply spiritual person, Shi-Nav-Egin was highly respected within the Tribe. Eventually, Black Hawk would die from his wound in 1870.
On March 28, 1865, Brigham Young made the following promise to Chief Sanpitch of the Timpanogos at Spanish Fork. He said, "Sanpitch, Soweett, Tabby and all of you, I want you to understand
what I say to you. I am looking out for your welfare...if you go to
Uintah they will build you houses make you a farm, give you cows,
oxen, clothing, blankets, and many other things you will want and
then the treaty that colonel Irish has here gives you the privilege
of coming back here on a visit. You can fish, hunt, pick berries,
dig roots, and we can visit together. The land does not belong to
you nor to me nor to the government. It belongs to the Lord. But our
father at Washington is disposed to make you liberal presents to let
the Mormons live here. If you will go over there and have your
houses built and get your property and money, we are perfectly
willing you should visit with us. I know that this treaty is just as
liberal and does everything for you and for your people that can be
done. Now, if you can understand this, you can see at once that we
do not want anything to wrong any of you."
1866 June 18th Chief Sanpitch was taken captive and brutally murdered. Having a bounty on his head Dolf Bennet slit his throat during a botched plan of Brigham Young's to lure Black Hawk into a trap. The death of Sanpitch (Black Hawk’s father) was again very devastating to Black Hawk and his family. The old Chief Sanpitch long been one of the leaders of the Timpanogos and was highly respected by all. The news sent a shock wave throughout Timpanogos territory. (See Timpanogos Nation
Sanpitch had, just the year before, signed a peace treaty with Brigham Young present. Tabby and old Sowiette were so enraged they immediately prepared to take revenge on the Mormons. They were making preparations to join Black Hawk, and were it not for Black Hawk's plea to stop the bloodshed, Tabby would have done so. (Please see Death of Sanpitch)
Moreover, the Timpanogos, as with all Tribes at the time, did not believe in "Satan" or "God" in the Christian sense, and are being judged and mocked by Christian values and beliefs. They were under extreme duress by a people who by this time had made it clear to the Native peoples they had two choices, surrender to the Mormons their land or... die. While some historians try to make the case that the 22 years leading up to the war were "complex," a knowing member of the Timpanogos Tribe asked the question, "What choice were we given? To walk knee deep in the blood of our people, or give up our sacred land and culture and accept whiteman's ways... it was a matter of honor and survival, why is that so complicated to understand?"
Now, the Mormon church believed they had a divine obligation to convert Utah's American Indians to Mormonism, according to church doctrine, and in so doing the so-called "loathsome" Indians would become a "white and delightsome people" and would be forgiven of the sins of their forefathers. (Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 5:21-23) According to church doctrine, the nature of the dark skin was a curse, the cause was the Lord, the reason was because the Lamanites (Indians) "had hardened their hearts against him, (God)" and the punishment was to make them "loathsome" unto God's people who had white skins.
Recent DNA studies of the exact origin of the American Indian people
have scientifically proven that they came from northeast Asia. Over
150 Indian tribes and 6000 individuals have been tested. Dr. David
Glenn Smith University of Calif., Dr. Dennis O'Rourke University of
Utah, Dr. Stephen L. Wittington, and LDS Church anthropologist and
scholar Thomas Murphy have publicly stated that there is no
archeological evidence, no historical evidence, no linguistic
evidence and no DNA evidence that proves the American Indian people
are descendents of Israel, and that would prove that the Book of
Mormon is not a history of the American Indian.
Meanwhile, during the 1850-60's when the Timpanogos refused to assimilate into Mormon culture, the Mormons’ response was to 'get rid' of them. (See Doctrine of Discovery) The underlying cause of the Christian mind-set begins before Columbus arrived in the Americas, Christian Monarchs decreed that anyone who did not believe in the God of the Bible, or that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, were deemed "heathens," "infidels" and "savages". Christians were then entitled to commit all manner of depredations upon them. Indeed America was founded upon Christian principals; there was no separation of church and state by those who drew their power from Old Testament-inspired Manifest Destiny, saying: "This is the land promised by the Eternal Father to the Faithful, since we are commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures to take it from them, being idolaters, by reason of their idolatry and sin, to put them all to the knife, leaving no living thing save maidens and children, their cities robbed and sacked, their walls and houses leveled to the earth." - Steven T. Newcomb Indigenous Law Institute and author of "Pagans in the Promised Land."
On April 21, 1866, Mormon residents of Circleville, Utah captured 26 peaceful
Indians and locked them up in the meeting house. On the evening of
the following day some of the Indians were able to cut themselves
loose from their bindings and make a break. In the excitement, two
Indians trying to free themselves were shot and killed by the
guards. The remainder of the Indians were then taken to a potato
cellar and imprisoned there. The captured Indians knew they were
going to be killed. They could feel it. The settlers had another
meeting and it was decided among them to kill the remaining captured
Indian people. One by one they were led out of the cellar, 24 in
all—women, men, and children—and one by one their throats were cut
ear to ear and their bodies held to the ground until they bled to
death. Two young boys and one girl, seven or eight years of age,
feeling the horror, decided to try to make their escape. When the
door was opened for the next victim, the three made a break, forced
their way past the guards and ran. The guards fired several shots at
the three but were unable to hit them. One was shot in the side but
the bullet barely grazed his rib—not enough to stop him. All of the
Paiute males, five women, and two older children were killed. (See
Circleville Massacre here)
As we can see the Black Hawk War was not a single event, nor did a single event ignite the war as Mormon scholars would have us believe.
Mormon leader Brigham Young famously said "It's CHEAPER to feed them than to fight them." One can only imagine the cost of feeding some 70,000 people. He also told the Denver Rocky Mountain News paper "you can get rid of more Indians with a sack of flour than a keg of powder." Illa Chivers told the story of her grandfather putting on a leather glove and passing his hand through Mormon flour finding it had ground glass in it.
Brigham Young repeatedly admonished his followers to "Treat them kindly, and treat them as Indians, and not as your equals." (See Brigham Young Discourses) How much Brigham Young spent on 'flour' for Indians is anyone's guess, but the costs of doing war is clearly spelled out in a 250 page document I found in MT. Pleasant titled "Memorial of the Legislative Assembly of Utah" which was prepared by the Legislature of Utah in 1873 and sent to the United States Congress. It is a bill which Congress awarded reimbursement of one and a half million dollars for expenses incurred by Brigham Young's private militia, the Nauvoo Legion, for removal of the Indian population in Utah territory between the years 1865 and 1873. Putting that into perspective, a million and half dollars in 1873 would be somewhere around $30 million today.
On June 26th, 1866, Mountain, was
wounded in battle at Diamond Fork above Spanish Fork. Mountain and
his warriors had taken some 30 head of cattle from Mapleton, but
were caught. The battle resulted in six deaths—two whites and four
Timpanogos. This battle was a significant win for the Mormons, as it was
the first time they had prevailed and recovered much of their
cattle. According to a Springville account, Black Hawk was shot by
Col. Creer with a long rifle at 800 yards. But, Black Hawk wasn't
even there. He was near Ephraim ailing from his wound he recieved at Gravely Ford. (See Diamond Battle)
In the spring of 1867 at Heber City, Tabby's son was captured after
butchering a cow. He expected to be killed, but Bishop Murdock told
him he would be released if he would carry a personal message to
Chief Tabby requesting a meeting to negotiate an end to the long and
needless war. After Tabby received Joseph’s message, a
government Indian agent tried to meet with Tabby, but Tabby said he
would only talk with “Old Murdock!"
1867 Aug 12th: Several accounts explain that while near
the Uinta Valley Reservation, Black Hawk and his warriors, in a prearranged
meeting, met with Indian Superintendent Franklin Head. The Indian
people, it appears, had respect for Franklin. It is said that Black
Hawk told Franklin that he and his warriors were tired of fighting
and wanted peace.
Back in June of 1866, Black Hawk was shot during battle at Gravely Ford near Richfield while rescuing a fellow warrior White Horse. In the month following Black Hawk was shown kindness when he received food and medicine from his long time friend Mormon Bishop Canute Peterson. During the same month Black Hawk received word that a Ute warrior Mountain had been wounded during an ambush at Little Diamond above Spanish Fork. Saddened by Mountains' near death experience, when Black Hawk was well enough to travel he visited his uncle Tabby camped north of Heber, and convinced him to end the war. Black Hawk and other Timpanogos leaders had to make tough decisions as they came to grips with a heartbreaking reality - they were just simply out numbered.
In the month of August, 1867, Black Hawk with humility and resolve made an extraordinary gesture of good faith. Near Strawberry Black Hawk met with Indian Agent Franklin Head saying he and his people were tired of war, but Franklin wasn't convienced. Black Hawk handed Indian agent Head his knife and asked him to cut off his long hair demonstrating his commitment to end the bloodshed. Black Hawk didn't surrender as historians would have us believe, the following three years the leader dedicated his efforts to total peace with the white man.
Black Hawk, with his massive army, could have caused far more
depredations to the “saints”, and certainly had just cause. But in a
surprising change of tactics he elected to give up his campaign of
vengeance to take a more altruistic course. At that point, all hopes
of their ever being free or holding onto their land was gone. And
Black Hawk, knew that the Transcontinental Railroad would soon be
completed, meaning an even greater influx of Anglos into Utah.
1867 August 19th: Hundreds of Northern Timpanogos people
accompanied Tabby to Heber City. They
went directly to Tabby's old friend Joseph Murdock’s home at 115
East 300 North where they camped in his yard and pasture. The
following day, four of Murdock’s five wives who were living in Heber
City, and the townsfolk prepared a feast on a lot owned by John
Carroll, across the street from the Murdock home. A large pit was
dug to roast enough beef to feed everyone. Each woman had been asked
to bake a dozen loaves of bread. Rows of tables were loaded with
corn and whatever the townsfolk could find in their pantries and
larders to feed their guests.
The feasting and talk lasted all day. Murdock and Tabby exchanged a
few simple gifts. The leaders then went across the street to an
upstairs room in Murdock’s home where a peace pipe was smoked and a
treaty of friendship was signed. Tabby signed his name and the
six war leaders made their marks.
This peace agreement ended the fighting between the settlers in
Heber Valley and the Timpanogos people. It was one of the first
agreements in a series of peace pacts made between Mormon settlers
and Timpanogos leaders that led to the eventual end of the Black Hawk War.
Tabby was the youngest of what Brigham Young called the "royal line" of brothers. He was the last of his brothers to die in c. 1898 in the Rock Creek area of what is now Tabiona on the Uinta Valley Reservation, Utah. He sat in on all Council meetings during the Black Hawk War making critical decissions. He was signor of three treaties, the Goship Treaty of Peace, the 1865 Spanish Fork Treaty, the 1867 Heber Treaty of Peace.
Black Hawk performed many heroic acts of courage
and bravery, and it is a matter of record that he sought sacred
guidance in all his decisions. I firmly believe that, were it not
for the inspired leadership of this man, many more lives would have
been lost in the Black Hawk War in Utah.
The news of Black Hawk's tactical maneuver spread quickly. Brigham
Young grasped the moment, and took credit for having reconciled the
war through vigilance and kindness, underscoring that his policy “to feed them and not fight them had paid off. The Rocky Mountain News quoted Brigham Young's
boasting, "If you want to get rid of the Indians try and civilize
them," a statement that speaks to Brigham's “two hearts.”
In a letter written by William Probert to my g-grandfather
Peter Gottfredson, he makes reference to Black Hawk's "Mission of
Peace." In spite of the tremendous personal misery that Black Hawk
endured throughout his life from the time he was a child, in the
remaining weeks before his death he is described as physically
distraught, gaunt, hollow-eyed, skeleton-like; yet he elected to
travel by horseback nearly two hundred miles from Cedar City to
Springville, Utah. Black Hawk was under heavy guard, and accompanied
by his devoted warriors Mountain and Joe, Along the way they
stopped at every Mormon settlement and with dignity Black Hawk reminded
the settlers they had broken their promises, stolen his people’s
land and brought disease. Yet, he asked the Saints to forgive him
and his people for the sufferings they had caused them, and
admonished them to do the same and end the bloodshed. We don't see the Mormon;s doing this, so it took a greater man to do such a thing. He was well
received, and left a lasting impression on the Saints, albeit some
took his "Mission of Peace" as a surrender. If he surrendered it was
to save the few remaining lives of his people. Black Hawk returned
to his place of birth at Spring Lake, and there he died. With honors
he was buried high up on the mountainside.
1871: U.S. federal troops stepped in and 1500 Timpanogos Indians were
driven from their homes in the shining mountains and valleys of Utah at gunpoint, and left to fend for themselves in
one of the most desolate regions of Utah. Again, many died from
hunger, hopelessness and despair as a result. Carlton Culmsee,
writer for the Deseret News observed that Indians on the
Uinta reservation, set aside by Abraham Lincoln in 1861, were
distraught and were, as he said: "So many kegs of powder, sullen,
and silent potentials for violence...believing that the government
had not kept their promises of schools, houses, mills, aids for
farming," since the federal government was ignoring the Utah
Indians’ demand that promises be kept. White employees on the
reservation, sent to keep watch over the now-segregated Indian
people (at gun point), also were neglected as food and supplies were
often scant. However, as government officials responded, their needs
were satisfied by taking from the Indians what meager food supplies
they had for themselves. As anger was fueled, the disgruntled Indian
people were appeased by token amounts of food and trinkets
distributed among them by reservation employees. "And the Mormons
were, of course, not blameless," Culmsee points out, "while
those 'saints' who disregarded Brigham Young's admonition to deal
fairly with the Indian people, these men offset in considerable
measure what Brigham Young's wisdom accomplished, and caused some
reservation Indians to distrust the Mormons." But even Brigham
had to admit, regarding his own people, that the “Architects of Zion” had to “work
with such material as the Lord has provided, stupidity, wooden
shoes, and cork brains thrown into the bargain.”
The Legacy of the Black Hawk War --
"That's all in the past, we should just forget about it! The LDS
Church has done more for the Indians than any other church on the
face of the earth. They (Indians) are the chosen people."
Arrogance didn't end with the war. Imagine, if you will, having the
corpse of your father disrespectfully unearthed by grave robbers;
then, for some strange reason, put on public display in the church
museum on Temple Square as a curiosity. The remains of Brigham Young
are buried in consecrated ground. Black Hawk's remains were
unearthed by Mormon looters in 1919, just 49 years following his
death. And, for weeks, were placed in the window of a co-op store in
downtown Spanish Fork; afterwards they were taken to the LDS church
museum on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Was the reason simply
amusement for others? Was grave robbing for art, pleasure,
punishment, a morbid fascination of death, divine obligation, or,
most importantly, the wielding of power?
Oh yes, I vividly recall seeing the display in the museum as a boy,
as do countless others, and no doubt some reading this remember as
well. For the skeletal remains of Black Hawk remained there for nearly 70
years, and all the while his living descendents bore the agony, and
humiliation—unable to convince the church to give up the remains of
their beloved grandfather. Once again I echo the words of Brigham
Young in a speech delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City,
April 6, 1854: "If the inhabitants of this territory, my
brethren, had never condescended to reduce themselves to the
practices of the Indians, to their low, degraded condition, and in
some cases even lower, there never would have been any trouble
between us and our red neighbors. Treat them kindly, and treat them
as Indians, and not as your equals."
In Colorado, in 1878 the Colorado Utes killed an unprincipled Indian Agent by the name Jonathan Meeker. Following the 1878 Meeker Massacre in Colorado, the United States Government declared "the Utes must go" and enacted the Ute Removal Act, and in 1881 that forced four of the seven bands of the Confederated Utes to leave Colorado and they were relocated on the Uintah Valley Reservation in Utah as "prisoners of war."
The Ute Removal Act of 1881 sent three of the seven bands of the Confederated Utes from Colorado to the Thornburgh Agency on the Uintah Valley Reservation, as prisoners of war. The three bands were the Yampa the Uintahs; and the Grand Rivers.
The fourth Colorado Band to be forced to leave Colorado known as the Tabaquache (aka Uncompahgre) was assigned to a second agency on the Uintah Valley Reservation called the Ouray Agency. The Thornburgh Agency was dissolved. And that moved the three bands of the Thornburgh Agency to a third Agency called the Uintah. So there were just the two remaining agencies called the Uintah, and the Ouray. The Government seeing no need for two Agencies on the same Reservation then combined the Uintah and Ouray which came to be known as the Uintah Ouray Agency in 1885. Now all four bands are under command of the Uintah Ouray Agency as prisoners of war. These four bands of Colorado Confederated Utes are known today as the Northern Ute Tribe.
In 1886 then-President Chester Arthur by Executive Mansion (same as Executive Order) designated a small strip of land on the Uintah Valley Reservation for the "temporary" use by the Colorado Utes at the Uintah and Ouray Agency to graze their cattle. President Arthur's Executive Mansion order did not abrogate or diminish the Uintah Valley Reservation. And in a recent 10th District Court ruling July 2017, the court said that the Uintah Valley reservation has never been abrogated or diminished and remains intact.
Three remaining Colorado bands of the Confederated Utes namely the Capote, Weeminuche, and Moache remained in south-western Colorado, just south of Durango, known today as the Southern Utes and Ute Mountain Utes, and are federally recognized.
The Northern Ute Tribe of Utah is a federally recognized Tribe. The "NORTHERN UTE TRIBE" wasn't created until 1937, under the constitutional name "Ute Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation". The "Ute Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation" is only a constitutional name NOT A RESERVATION and never was a reservation. Congress is the only one that can create a reservation, and there is no congressional act that created any reservation called the " Uintah & Ouray Reservation."
"We took from them almost all their land—the reservations are just a tiny remnant of traditional tribal homelands. We tried to take from them their hunting rights, their fishing rights, the timber on their land. We tried to take from them their water rights. We tried to take from them their culture, their religion, their identity, and perhaps most importantly, we tried to take from them their freedom. And what is so amazing about this whole story is that we failed. We failed after hundreds of years of trying to take everything from American Indians. We failed to do that. They're still here and there's survival; that great saga of survival is one of the great stories of all mankind." - Dr. Daniel McCool University of Utah.