The Story of Timpanogos Leader Black Hawk

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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 -- Perpetual Demoralization

"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.

"Bones of Black Hawk on Exhibition L.D.S. Museum"

Did the Black Hawk war begin in 1865 as scholars say? Was it over in 1870? The Mormons got their "promised land" and the Transcontinental Railroad had come to Salt Lake. Black Hawk died in 1870. Ninety percent of the Indian population had died since the Mormons arrived in 1847. Fifteen hundred Timpanogos were forced to walk a hundred miles to Fort Duchesne, the reservation in the Uintah Basin, where they were abandoned, and 500 more died from starvation in the first year. Chief Walkara said, "and the graves of their fathers have been torn up by the whites." That was in 1853. What happened next boggles the mind.

On September 20, 1919, an article appeared on the front page of the Deseret News with the headline, "Bones of Black Hawk on Exhibition L.D.S. Museum." Within the article, the writer explains that first, the remains of Black Hawk had been on public display in the window of a hardware store in downtown Spanish Fork, Utah. Then Benjamin Guarded, the man in charge of the L.D.S. Museum, acquired the remains The Black Hawk War; Utah's Native American Historyfor public display on Temple Square. For decades, the remains of Black Hawk, and those of an Indian woman and a child, were on display in the church museum on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

They say there are no known photos of Black Hawk, there's one. and it appeared on the front page of the Deseret News Paper. Just 49 years had passed since Black Hawk had been laid to rest in 1870 at Spring Lake, Utah, when members of the LDS Church plotted the robbery of his grave. The Black Hawk War; William E. Croff.Accompanying the article is a photo of William E. Croff standing in the open grave, grinning ear to ear, while holding the skull of Black Hawk (Black Hawk). While the living descendants of Black Hawk were outraged, their voices fell on deaf ears. Seemingly without conscience or remorse and church leaders made no apologies, in spite of a federal law passed in 1906 called the Graves Protection Act. Descendents of Black Hawk had no real legal recourse until the enactment of the National American Graves Protection Reparation Act, or NAGPRA, passed in 1994.

"To Whom It May Concern: At my leisure moments I would hunt for the spot where "Black Hawk" was buried and one day one of the miners, William E. Croft reported what he supposed to be "Black Hawk's" grave. This started an investigation and Mr. Croft along with Lars L. Olsen and myself uncovered the remains of "Black Hawk," which were buried in a large quartzite slide. The first article we saw was a china pipe, which, was laying upon the top of his head. Then we discovered the saddle, the remains of the skeleton, portion's of his horses bridle that had been buried with him; sleigh bells, ax, bucket, beads, part of an old soldier coat with the brass buttons still intact. All of these were removed very carefully, and for safety deposited them with the Spanish Fork Co-op where they were exhibited for several days. Subsequently at the suggestion of Commander J. M. Westwood I secured these remains and conveyed them to the L.D.S. Church Museum on temple block, suggesting that they should be placed on exhibition there and preserved. – Ben H. Bullock." ( See Deseret Evening News Paper 1919)

Seventy-seven years after Black Hawk's grave was robbed, Antonga Black Hawk was again reburied in the year 1996. This raises the question why? Why would a Christian religious institution and its leaders have no compassion or respect for the living descendants of Chief Black Hawk even as some were and are members of the LDS church?

It took an act of Congress, the help of National Forest Service archeologist Charmain Thompson, and the humanitarian efforts of a boy scout Shane Armstrong to find and rebury the remains of Black Hawk at Spring Lake, the place of his birth. Shane Armstrong told me in an interview he felt it in his heart he should find Black Hawk's remains. Inspired at the age of 14, Shane on his own makes contact with Thompson. Together they locate the lost remains of Black Hawk in a basement storage room, in a box, on Brigham Young University campus. On November 24, 2008, Shane Armstrong was awarded the prestigious Indiginous Day Award.

Burial arrangements, coffin, and headstone were donated by citizens of Spring Lake, many who's ancestors fought against Black Hawk during the war. Ironically the grave site is on property owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Black Hawk War; Timpanogos Chief Black Hawk's Grave

Burial Site of Black Hawk (Black Hawk) Spring Lake, Utah

In the year Black Hawk's remains were dug up by Bishop Ben Bullock and Lars Croft, Heber J. Grant was president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, followed by George Albert Smith (1945-1951); David O. McKay (1951-1970); Joseph Fielding Smith (1970-1972); Harold B. Lee (1972-1973); Spencer W. Kimball (1973-1985); and Ezra Taft Benson (1985-1994). These prophets have administered the affairs of the church from church headquarters in Salt Lake City. These men presided over "God’s church" as the "mouthpiece of God," but, for some reason, never had enough respect or compassion toward their fellow man to give up their claim to the bones of Black Hawk, or even consider his living descendants. Even to this day, the burial site of Black Hawk is owned by the LDS Church. 

The tradition of exhibiting native Indian remains in western societies has existed since the earliest encounters between Europeans and indigenous populations. Exhibiting non-white bodies as a popular practice reached its peak in the nineteenth century in both Europe and the USA. The exhibition of native people for public entertainment in circuses, zoos, and museums became fairly common. In the USA, in particular, the spectacle of "freaks," "natives," and "savages" became a profitable industry at this time, as in popular traveling shows like Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and Barnum and Bailey's Circus. World Expositions were also popular for the display of native bodies. Dissected and embalmed remains of native bodies,  particularly the skulls and sexual organs, were also publicly exhibited.

"The days of the mountain men, the early rancher, the cattle kings, and the homesteaders have passed, and now the lowly sheep is king. But time may change it all, and who knows but what in some distant future the Timpanogos may again roam and hunt in the hallowed hills of their forebears, silent and wrapped in the mystic haze of Indian summer." - Val Fitzpatrick

To all our relations~

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