Part 3 of 4

Ute Indian - Black Hawk Productions

1849 - 1873

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Mormon leader Brigham Young's long-time admonition to the members of his church to "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 Timpanogos land. Many “saints” were spending time in the Indian camps and inviting them into their homes, to which Brigham responded to his followers 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." (See Brigham's Discourses)

In 1857 members of the Mormon church, disguised as Indians, massacred a wagon train of 129 whites at Mountain Meadows, and unfairly laid the blame on the Paiute.

Brigham went to great lengths to convince the First Peoples to side with him in his efforts to keep the approaching U. S. Army out of Salt Lake. Perhaps he didn't exaggerate when he warned tribal leaders that the government had sent the army troops to destroy both the Mormons and the Indian people. News of Brigham's plan to recruit the Indians reached Washington, and U.S. troops were dispatched to Utah to thwart Brigham's scheme. The Mormons found some Indian allies who sided with him. But soon the Indian people would find themselves in a survival struggle of their own. The United States Army would try to convince tribal leaders to side with them, and drive the Mormons out. But, as we will see, Mormon leaders would join hands with the United States government, and finalize the removal of the Native Indians from their land to make way for “Christian” expansion.

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

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 that Johnston's wagons and food 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, Nauvoo militia stole 800 of the 1,400 head of cattle with the Army there. While Mormons severely punished famished Indians for stealing their cattle, the Mormons not only stole cattle from the United States Government, they 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.

In 1863, 593 Shoshone men women and children were brutally massacred at Bear River. As the Indians tried desperate measures to fight off the U.S. Army, including the use of tomahawks and archery, the soldiers seemed to lose all sense of control and discipline. After most of the men were killed, soldiers proceeded to rape the women and girls of the encampment, and many of the children were also shot and killed. In some cases, soldiers held the feet of infants by the heel and "beat their brains out on any hard substance they could find." Those women who refused to submit to the soldiers were shot and killed. After the slaughter ended, soldiers went through the Indian village raping women and using axes to bash in the heads of women and children who were already dying of wounds. Leaders Bear Hunter  (Indian name Camawick brother of SACAJAWEA) and Lemhi both were killed. The troops burned 75 Indian lodges, took possession of 1,000 bushels of wheat and flour, and 175 Shoshone horses. While the troops cared for their wounded and took their dead back to Camp Douglas in Salt Lake City for burial, the Indians' bodies were left on the field for the wolves and crows for nearly two years. One local resident, Alexander Stalker, noted that at this time many soldiers pulled out their pistols and shot several Shoshone people at point-blank range. The soldiers also deliberately burned almost everything they could get their hands on, especially the Indians’ dwelling structures, and killing anybody they found to be still inside. Hundreds of corpses were left to be eaten by animals and the bones remained uncovered for years to follow. See video Bear River Massacre with Will Bagley - Purchase book by Rod Miller Massacre at Bear River

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

The Timpanogos have consistently been a diverse and adaptable people. They have always been innovative to have sustained their culture for centuries. Each one was gifted with intelligence, love of family and friends, and the ability to feel joy and pain. Each experienced awe in the face of surprising natural beauty, as were the Old World Christian brethren. Their land was not just real estate, their land was their soul.

There never was anything genetically inferior about the Utah Indians. Shaped by their environment, they were a tough and rugged people. They established, over time, an economic trade network from the regions of Colubia River territory as far south as Mexico. Timpanogos leaders had long-established trade relations with Euro-American fur traders, which proved profitable on all sides. They had tremendous knowledge and skills to master their environment, and sustained a population numbering in the tens of thousands. To feed a lot of people they needed a productive and fertile environment. The Timpanogos were not farmers, but depended on natural resources for their food supply. They found sustenance from roots, fruit, seeds, and a variety of nutritious plants. Fish, deer and elk were their primary source for protein, as well as clothing, and many other uses. Theirs was a highly structured society, noble and skilled in their ways, and deeply respected by other tribes throughout the West.

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 Tribe. 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 (Please see Treaties)

By the 1860s the United States government, under President Grant had, for the most part, placed care of the Indians in the hands of Christian groups. Henry Pratt's assimilation program began with the slogan: "Kill the Indian and save the man." Indian children were taken from their families by force, and placed in boarding schools. Their goal was to completely abolish their traditions, language and culture in a single generation. These children remained in these schools for periods as long as six years, never being allowed to have any contact with their parents or families. Many died from Smallpox and Measles, and were buried in schoolyards. To this day, Native people continue to search school records for their deceased ancestors, only to find that many of the graves of these poor children were never marked.

The environment of the Utah Indian people was now drastically altered from logging and from the introduction of domesticated cattle and horses  numbering in the thousands. Settlers farming domesticated crops and cattle on previously Indian land meant that Natives were less able to depend on the natural environment for their food supply. While the Indians were excellent and well-seasoned hunters and gatherers, it required a large expanse of land to sustain their communities. The settlers knew this, and so systematically killed and drove away the deer and elk, and slaughtered massive numbers of native 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. The Native people were forced to travel greater distances, expending more energy, to find food. Ultimately, they were faced with the agonizing realization that they were being forced by starvation into surrendering. It became necessary to prey on Mormon beef. They plundered thousands of head of cattle to feed their hungry families. They would have much preferred to eat deer, elk and buffalo, but it was a matter of survival. With this, and the pandemic spread of disease, it's a wonder the Timpanogos survived at all.

Brigham and his followers were, by no means, strangers to persecution or to 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 Native. But 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 the Timpanogos leaders’ demonstrated humanity and willingness to compromise. The Timpanogos are seldom cited for their peace efforts. Meaningless and numerous so-called "treaties" were divisive and broken at will by Mormon leaders.

Fort Utah 1850:

When Apostle George Albert Smith gave the order to remove the Native Peoples from off their land in 1849-50, this set the stage for genocide. And the events that unfolded at Fort Utah would send a message to the Native peoples that the rules of engagement were rooted in pure  contempt, hatred and greed.

As Brigham continued using church funds waging war against the Indian people, he engaged such noted serial killers as "Wild Bill" Hickman, Porter Rockwell, and John D. Lee. Lee baptized Hickman into the church. Lee and Rockwell were sealed to Brigham Young in the temple. Lee was the leader of the massacre at Mountain Meadows. Hickman and Rockwell were Brigham's personal body guards.

Shortly after Fort Utah had been erected in Utah Valley in 1849, three men: Rufus Stoddard, Richard Ivie, and Gerome Zabrisky began to heckle an elderly Indian man, whom whites called Old Bishop, near the fort. They accused him of stealing the shirt he was wearing from off a wash line. Old Bishop denied that he stole the shirt from anyone, saying he had made a fair trade for it. Ivie aimed his gun on Old Bishop and told him to take it off. The old Indian man stood his ground and refused. Ivie took aim directly at his head and pulled the trigger, murdering the Old Bishop in cold blood.

Concerned that what they had done would spark retribution from the Indians, the men then gutted the old man. They then filled his cavity with rocks, and tossed him in the Provo River. Quoting from History of the Utah Stake by James Goff, one of the colonists stated later: "The men who killed the Indian ripped his bowels open, and filled them with stones preparatory to sinking the body." However, scholars claim that the argument was not over a shirt, but over cattle that had been stolen.

Long omitted from history are the horrifying events at Fort Utah in 1850 that would haunt Mormons for many decades to follow—even to the present day. Following a two-day battle at Fort Utah, Dr. James Blake, who was a surgeon among the Stansbury company led by Gen. Wells, was greatly influenced by "Wild Bill" Hickman's trophy of Old Elk's head that he had hacked from his frozen corpse during the militia's foray into Rock Canyon located today above the LDS temple in Provo. The Danite serial killer Hickman said, "I took off his head for I had heard the old mountaineer Jim Bridger say he would give a $100.00 for it." A witness at Fort Utah told reporters, " was hung pendant by its long hair from the willows of the roof of one of the houses. I well remember how horrible was the sight." - Robert Carter Fort Utah

Following the two-day battle that resulted in the deaths of 70 Indian people, Dr. Blake ordered troops Abner Blackburn and James Or to go out and behead each of the frozen corpses lying about in the snow. Dr. Blake told the men he "wanted to have the heads shipped to Washington [to sell them] to a medical institution." There the heads would be used for scientific examination. The men severed from the frozen corpses as many as 50 heads. As Dr. Blake stood by, watching over his men, he hunted Mallard ducks. His men piled human heads on the ground along with a dozen or so Mallard ducks. The human heads were then taken to the fort and there placed in view of Black Hawk, "Black Hawk," who was then barely in his 20s. He, along with his traumatized kin, innocent of any wrongdoing, were thus tortured as they were forced to view the grizzly remains of their clansmen before them for a period of two long excruciating weeks. "Abner, keeping the agreement, delivered the rotting heads and ducks to Blake in Salt Lake. Dr. Blake settled up, and invited Abner to dinner. Blackburn declined, saying he had lost his appetite." How amusing that it was noted by historians that Abner "lost his appetite" while nothing is said about those who had to sit surrounded by the bodiless heads of their kin while being held captive at Fort Utah.

The excuse behind these heinous acts was to "teach them [the Indians] a lesson"  by making an example of one clan to show the rest who was in charge. Fear ran rampant throughout Indian country, and following the Fort Utah battle, many frightened Native people were baptized into the church—willing to do anything to stay alive.


In brief summary the Battle Creek Massacre (4 murdered) in 1849;) Fort Utah (70 killed) 1850; the Mountain Meadows Massacre (129 murdered) 1857; the Bear River Massacre (480 murdered) 1863; the Black Hawk War 1865 - 1872 (460 killed); the Grass Valley Massacre (10 murdered) 1865; the Diamond Battle (6 killed) 1866; the Circleville Massacre and over 100 other altercations which stand in testament to the circumstances of which I speak? There are 958 recorded deaths of Timpanogos who died at the hands of Mormon settlers between 1850 and 1872, and of  225 whites who died at the hands of the Indians.

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 did, 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 perfect for a reservation. That President Lincoln would ask Brigham his opinion suggests that Mormon leaders had a working relationship with the President, in spite of the fact that 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. Some things just defy logic. Tribal Leader Walkara, a uncle of Black Hawk had been in the leadership of the Timpanogos since the arrival of the Mormons. When he was poisoned 1855, Walkara's brother Yenewoods (aka Jake Arapeen) became Tribal Leader by succession, and continued in this role until 1865. By now tensions were running high on both sides. In a last-ditch effort to diffuse the situation, a meeting was called at Manti. But a drunk rancher named  John Lowry would make the mistake of jerking Arapeen from his horse by his hair. This was the final straw, Arropeen, now humiliated before his people, vowed revenge. Black Hawk took command as war chief, following the Mormons’ failed attempt to bring peace. The Timpanogos Tribe  gave Tabby Tribal Leader role, and Tabby directed Black Hawk to amass an army of 3000 warriors, eventually driving back white expansion and  resulting in some 70 Mormon villages being vacated.

The Black Hawk War of Utah, in itself, was not a single incident. There were over 150 bloody altercations and battles that took place over a twentyone-year period throughout Utah territory. It spread into Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, and Arizona while tens of thousands of Mormon pioneers continued to sprawl out across Indian land. The Shoshone Timpanogos, Paiute, Goshute, Navajo, Hopi, Jicarilla, Comanche, Apaches, and the Timpanogos were consequently affected.

On 23 February 1865, sixteen years after Apostle George Albert Smith declared the Indians have no rights, congress passed an act to extinguish the Indian title to the lands in the territory of Utah—land that was suitable for agriculture and mineral purposes. But as quick as the news came, more news arrived of the outbreak of the so-called Black Hawk War in southern Utah,  followed by reports of men killed, homes destroyed and livestock driven into the mountains.

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."

On April 20, 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)

Conclusion next...

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