. What Was The Black Hawk War in Utah About

 

What caused the Utah Black Hawk War, and what was it about?

By Phillip B Gottfredson

The Black Hawk War in Utah began when Mormon settlers entered Utah territory in 1847. The Timpanogos Indians were in disagreement with LDS Church leader Brigham Young and his followers encroaching upon their ancestral land. Timpanogos Nation war leader Antongua Black Hawk, along with his uncle Tabby, unleashed a fury upon the Mormons they hadn't before 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, Apache, Dine' and Apache. Over the coarse of just 15 months 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. He nearly succeeded in driving the Mormons out of Utah.

Mormon Church leader Brigham Young spent over one million dollars of church funds to exterminate Indian inhabitants resulting in six horrific massacres, and some 150 bloody confrontations that took place between 1849 and 1870. 238 whites and 932 American Indians were killed. This does NOT include the untold thousands of Indian peoples who died from starvation and disease brought on by Mormon settlement. Scholars estimate there being between 40,000 and 70,000 Indian peoples when the settlers arrived in 1847. United States government census of 1909 reveals Indian populations decreased by more than 90% leaving just 2300 Natives alive when they were forced onto reservations where 500 more died in the first year from starvation. Today the Timpanogos Indian population is about 900.

Frequent updates and revisions are made as our research continues. There are 83 pages on this website that deal with the harsh realities of the Black Hawk War of Utah and it's legacy. Taken from personal journals, state and LDS Church archives, old newspapers, and books; each giving firsthand eyewitness accounts of the mistreatment of Utah's American Indians at the hands of the Mormon pioneers. Also many stories come from Peter Gottfredson's book Indian Depredations in Utah, he was a friend to the Timpanogos Indians and spent most of his time living in the Indian camps during the war. Most important are personal interviews with living descendents of legendary Timpanogos leaders, like my g-grandfather Peter, I have been living among the Native Peoples learning from them their history and life-ways. My quest for the truth has taken me all over the Western United States and as far south as Guatemala and the Mayan. This website is a compilation of my own personal decades long research of the Black Hawk War in Utah: Utah's Native American History.

I hope you find value in my work, it has truly been a labor of love.

Phillip B Gottfredson