THE BLACK HAWK WAR, trouble began when Mormon settlers pushed their way into the Great Basin (Utah) in 1847. The Timpanogos Nation warned LDS Church leader Brigham Young and his followers they were not welcome to settle on their ancestral land. Timpanogos leader Antongua Black Hawk assembled a thousand or more warriors from his communal tribe with support from neighboring allies, among them the Colorado Utes, Apache, Navajo and Kiowa. He commanded a formidable attack and unleashed a terrible violence that effectively held back Mormon colonization of their most valued homeland in central and southern Utah. Because Black Hawk understood Mormon economics, he managed to undermine their economy by flooding the market with 'Mormon beef' causing cattle markets to collapse, and the abandonment of some 70 Mormon villages. In just 14 months he got the better of his tormentors and nearly succeeded in driving the Mormons out of Utah.
Following Black Hawk's death in 1870, in 1919 his remains were exhumed and put on public display in a window of a hardware store for amusement.
Mormon polygamist leader Brigham Young spent over one and a half million dollars of church funds to "exterminate" the "Indians of Utah" resulting in six bloody massacres, and some 150 deadly confrontations that took place between 1849 and 1870. Over two hundred whites and nine hundred American Indians were killed. This does NOT include the untold thousands of Timpanogos who died from starvation and disease wrought by Mormon settlement. Of the some seventy-thousand Timpanogos living along the Wasatch, government agency records reveal that Utah Indian population decreased by a staggering 90% leaving just 2300 Timpanogos alive when they were forced onto the Uintah Valley Reservation where 500 more died in the first winter from starvation.
"During the Black Hawk War, Phillip's great-grandfather Peter Gottfredson was a young man, and being a friend of the Timpanogos was invited into the camp of Chief Antongua Black Hawk on numerous occasions. He spent much of his time in the camps of the Timpanogos."
Phillip Gottfredson, like his great-grandfather, has been living with the Timpanogos over the past several years while learning firsthand their recollections of the Black Hawk War. Working with Mary Meyer Chief Executive of the Timpanogos Nation, Phillip is the first historian to have been given this honor and have access to the Timpanogos Nation's historical records. Previously, he spent several years learning from the Ute, Shoshone, Paiute and many other Tribes throughout North and South America.
Phillip was welcomed to participate in numerous sacred ceremonies and received council from many tribal elders and leaders. This is a unique distinction among today's historians. Because he is personally involved in Native American Indian culture, Phillip gives an unprecedented and intimate perspective into the Native peoples of Utah who were those most affected by the tragic Black Hawk War. Phillip's synopsis of the Black Hawk War offers much-needed clarity to Utah's Native American history that until now, has been deliberately ignored. Phillip Gottfredson is the Timpanogos Nation's historian.
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