Timpanogos Chief Antonga Black Hawk Biography

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Timpanogos Chief Antonga Black Hawk

Chief Black Hawk Born c. 1830; died September 26, 1870

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by Phillip B Gottfredson author, Black Hawk's Mission of Peace

Biography of the Timpanogos war Chief Antonga Black Hawk and the circumstances that led to the Utah Black Hawk War. When the war peaked in 1865 under the leadership Black Hawk's uncle Chief Tabby, Tabby called upon Black Hawk to be the Nation's War Chief. In just 15 months, Black Hawk nearly succeeded in driving Mormon colonists out of Utah territory. In 1870 Black Hawk died from a gun-shot wound he received while in battle at Gravelly Ford a year earlier.

The Story Begins in 1765

The Timpanogos Tribe was first discovered in Utah Territory by Spanish explorers Juan Rivera in 1765 and later on by Dominguez and Escalante in 1776 (see: Timpanogos Tribe Biography). During the 1700's to the early 1800's fur trappers would all but empty the rivers and streams of the beaver population in Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. Millions of pounds of pelts would be shipped to Europe, making fur merchants wealthy beyond belief. During this time and subsequent years to follow, the British, French, and Americans would divvy up Indian land, waging war against each other when necessary to gain control.

An old medicine man Wuna Mucca had prophesied the coming of the missionaries decades before their arrival. And come they did, "to worship God Almighty, save the heathens from hell, and get rich." The valley of the Great Salt Lake had long become the crossroads of the west as trappers, explorers, passed through on their way to Oregon and California. This European colonialism would eventually destroy the Timpanogos Nation resulting in thousands of deaths and the destruction of a vibrant and thriving culture.

On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young, along with a party of 143 Mormons, emerged from the mouth of Cottonwood canyon on a hill overlooking Salt Lake valley of the Wasatch Front, thus concluding a thousand-mile journey taking hundred and eleven days by horseback and covered wagons. Brigham seeing the valley, said, "It's enough, this is the right place, drive on." The Mormons made their camp in the heart of the Snake-Shoshoni Timpanogos Nation. The Timpanogos would soon confront Brigham Young and his followers for trespassing on their ancestral land.

Born c1838, Black Hawk was just in his early teens when the Mormons arrived. At this time, he was living at Spring Lake, Utah, the place of his birth. Black Hawk
spoke English fluently as a result of his early association with the whites. His
father was Sanpitch(Tenaciono). His mother was Tanar-oh-wich and gave birth to several children.

The Timpanogos leadership of seven brothers, namely Sanpitch, Wakara, Arapeen, Tabby, Ammon, Sowiette, Grospeen. These seven legendary leaders are referred to as "the privileged blood." They ruled every clan and village along the Wasatch. Their population was at least 70,000 and more. They were the ruling Tribe that occupied the entire territory comprised of some 250,000 square miles.

After the Mormon settlers arrived, a year later, the Hidalgo Treaty of 1848 was signed wherein the United States agreed to "recognize Indian land holdings, and to allow Indian people to continue their customs and languages." Settlers ignored the treaty with impunity. Utah territory bordered the northern section of Mexico at this time. And it should be noted the Hidalgo Treaty has never been abrogated or diminished and remains intact.


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Black Hawk's uncle Chief Wakara, the principal leader of the Timpanogos, confronted Brigham Young shortly after they entered the valley. He made it clear they were not welcome to settle on their land. Brigham assured Wakara that they were only passing through to California. They had made a long journey, lost many of their people along the way, and were short on supplies, that they needed to spend the winter there and would move on in the spring. Wakara understood and generously helped the Mormons survive through the winter.

When spring came, the Mormons began to cut down the timber and built barns, houses, and fences. Mormons started to arrive in large numbers at the rate of some 3000 a month. Mormons begin seizing Timpanogos' land and water holes.

In 1849, trouble began when a company of 35 Mormon militia, under the leadership of Colonel John Scott, left Salt Lake City in pursuit of a so-called “renegade band of Indians” who Brigham Young falsely accused of taking his horses. So it followed that war with the Mormons began in earnest on February 28, 1849, with the first of six massacres at Battle Creek in the foothills above Pleasant Grove, Utah (See: Battle Creek Massacre).

Under orders from Brigham Young, Scott and his men met up with a Timpanogos they referred to as Little Chief on the Provo River. Little Chief regretfully led Scott to an encampment of Timpanogos Indians who allegedly had been doing some stealing. It seems unlikely Little Chief would have betrayed his people in this way; more likely threatened, he gave in.

The trail took the company of soldiers to the mouth of a canyon above Pleasant Grove. Scott and his men split into four groups and surrounded the camp, and opened fire on the unsuspecting people sleeping there in their teepees, who scattered and took cover in nearby thicket along the creek. It is written that the "battle" continued for a couple of hours. It seems highly unlikely since the Timpanogos had only one gun, while the surrounding army pelted their victims with rocks until they immerged from cover unarmed when troops shot them repeatedly. An unarmed Timpanogos elder named Kone was shot in his back as he came out of his teepee.

A brave girl about 16 emerged from cover and pleaded with Colonel Scott not to harm her brother. Scott ordered her to bring her brother to him. Terrified of Scott, she got from the thicket her younger brother, who bravely stood face to face with Scott and said, "Go away, what are you here for? Go away. You kill my father, my brother for what? Go away, let us alone."

"Joshua Terry, a pioneer of 1847, and a mountain man who married into an Indian tribe, once told the writer (Howard R. Driggs) that this Indian boy became the warring leader Black Hawk. When peace came, after the Black Hawk War of the later eighteen sixties, this Chief, Terry declared, told him that he was this same boy taken after the fight on Battle Creek. He could never understand why the white men had shot down his people. It put bitterness in his heart; and though he lived for some time with the white people, his mind was ever set on avenging the wrong. That is why he later made war against them."

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