It is deeply disturbing that the tradition has been for most historians and writers to
trivialize, and underrate the agony of the First Nation people in Utah, those who
suffered the greatest loss in terms of land, culture, lives, and dignity. It
is criminal to ignore their history, and it is time their story be told truthfully.
"Why has so little
interest been taken in keeping memorandas and records of events and
conditions of those early and trying times" my great-grandfather
pondered in 1884. It would be inaccurate to suggest the
settlers were without conscience, as many accounts attest to their remorse.
But memories of the past were short lived as the promise of prosperity
unfolded before their eyes. The end justifying the means giving birth to the
words, "the past is the past, we just need to forget about." And forget they
did, 150 years have passed and but a handful of people know anything about
the war. But for the First People of Utah the story is quite the opposite.
common knowledge Euro-Americans have for centuries forced upon the First
People their views, opinions, cultural and religious beliefs. "The
Mormons brought with them a moral code, a new technology, and an economic
system. Mormon's inability or refusal to accept Indian culture on its own
terms is a conflict repeated countless times throughout the west.
Coexistence, with each culture intact, was impossible; compromise seemed
unattainable, for the cherished ideals of one culture were the unpardonable
sins of the other,"said The
Other 49ers. "Mormons brought the ways
of civilization with them in their minds. Contrary to their desire for a
enlightened sacred way of life, they gave way the very kind of
discrimination that they ran from."
Today it's also the little things that add insult to injury that go unnoticed. For years an Indian statue by renowned artist Cyrus Dallin has adorned the grounds of the
Utah state capitol, which to many has came to symbolized the First People of
Utah. The fact the figure in the statue is that of Massasoit who died circa
1662, and that Massachusetts was named after him, or that Dallin employed a
African-American model from whom he sculpted the Indian figure, this irony
doesn't seem to matter to the non-Indians of Utah, but most assuredly the
Indian people of Utah are less than amused. For never has there been a
monument or memorial built in honor of the First People, much less a statue
accurately representing Utah American Indians. Is it anti-Indian or
anti-Mormon? Actually it's both. A paradox considering the thousands of
Native Americans who are or were members of the LDS church."
The arrogance and attitudes
of supremacy toward the First Nations people of Utah has prevailed since before the
Black Hawk War, and few have had the courage to stand up and say, enough, we
must defend a person's right to live a decent life. I am astonished that
they have had little or no voice, ignored, shunned, kept out on the fringes
of society and denied access to even most the basic fundamentals of equality
and human rights. That they live in fear of telling their story, their
truth, that there may be retribution for exercising their legal right of
free speech. That non-Indians have been made to feel they have no obligation
to own the past. I often wonder is the Black Hawk really over, or has
discrimination simply morphed and become institutionalized in a Caste system?
What is the true story of First People of
Utah? The only people who can intelligently and accurately answer that
question are the indigenous people. But has anyone ever asked them?
Twenty-six years of
Utah history has been ignored and left out of school curriculum. Twenty-six
years of Utah Indian history that more than 90% of Utah's population never
heard of. A quarter of a century of the history of 40,000 lives has been
tossed aside, forgotten, and made a mockery of.
See: Timpanogos of the Wasatch - Biography