Wakara Talks About Injustices of the Black Hawk War

Great Salt Lake City, July 6 1853
Brigham Young Papers, MS 1234, Box 58, Folder 14
LDS Archives
File: Martenas-Walker Statement
Statement, M. S. Martenas, Interpreter, Great Salt Lake City, July 6 1853, Brigham Young Papers, MS 1234, Box 58, Folder 14, LDS Archives.
Will Bagley Transcription

At the request of Maj. [Jacob] Holeman Ind. Agent for U. Ter. I held a conversation with Indian Chief Walker respecting his feelings and wishes relative to the whites setling [sic] on this lands, and on the lands of the Indians generally.

He said that he had always been opposed to the whites set[t]ling on the Indian lands, particularly that portion which he claims; and on which his band resides and on which they have resided since his childhood, when they first commenced the settlement of Salt Lake Valley, was friendly, and promised them many comforts, and lasting friendship—that they continued friendly for a short time, until they became strong in numbers, then their conduct and treatment towards the Indians changed—they were not only treated unkindly, but many were much abused and this course has been pursued up to the present—sometimes they have been treated with much severity—they have been driven by this population from place to place—settlements have been made on all their hunting grounds in the valleys, and the graves of their fathers have been torn up by the whites. He said he wished to keep the valley of the San Pete, and desired to leave the valley of Salt Lake, as he could not live in peace with the whites—but that the Whites had taken possession of this valley also—and the Indians were forced to leave their homes, or submit to the constant abuse of the whites. He said the Gosoke who formerly lived in the Salt Lake valley had been killed and driven away, and that now they wished to drive him and his band away also—he said he had always wished to be friendly with the whites—but they seemed never to be satisfied—the Indians had moved time after time, and yet they could have no peace—that his heart was sick—that his heart felt very bad. He desired me very earnestly to communicate the situation of the Indians in this neighborhood to the Great Father, and ask his protection and friendship—that whatever the great father wished he would do. He said he has always been opposed to the whites settling on his lands, but the whites were strong and he was weak, and he could not help it—that if his great father did not do something to relieve them, he could not tell what they would do.

I have had sincere talks with Sou-we-reats, (the man that picks fish from the water) Toe-kah-boo (Black belly) who have always expressed themselves in the strongest terms against the whites setling [sic] on their lands. Sow-we-reats in Uwinty Valley and [2] Too ke boos, on the river of the same name—it is a fine valley, well watered, and has plenty of game. These Indians and their ancestors have long occupied this country—they very much dislike to leave it—they say they cannot live with the whites, for they cannot live in peace—the whites want every thing, and will give the Indians nothing—that they shoot the Indians if they walk over their grounds.

I have been acquainted with his country, and these Indians for upwards of thirty years. I have known Walker, Sou wah reats, and Tookeboos since they were children—I have always been on friendly terms with them—they talk freely with me—and express their feelings and wishes without reserve. One prominent cause of the present excitement is the interference of the Mormons with their long established Spanish trade, and the killing of an Indian trader by the name of Bowman, from Santa Fee, and charging the murder to the Indians. I greatly fear that much difficulty will grow out of the present excited condition of the Indians,—should the Mormons continue their unkind treatment. I have just had a long conversation with the Chief Walker and make the above statement of his feelings with his expressions fresh in my mind.

Great Salt Lake City July 6 1853 M. S. Martenas, Interpreter [1]

 1 Martinez was a common name in New Mexico. In his sketch of the life of Denis Julien, Otis “Doc” Martin noted Manuel Martinez’ 1827 report of a party sent “to retrieve some caches in the direction of the lands of the Utes.” See LeRoy R. Hafen, ed., The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, 10 vols. (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1965-1972), 7:185. Bancroft mentioned a Miguel Martinez at San Bernardino in 1846. I have been unable to make a more precise identification.

Note: I wish to express my gratitude to my friend Will Bagely for sharing this document with me and the many hours we spent discussing the Black Hawk War in Utah. - Phillip B Gottfredson

See Timpanogos Tribe Biography: The Black Hawk War