The Utah Indian Wars of 1866

While Mormon settlement of Utah began in 1847, American Indians had inhabited the region for thousands of years. The Mormon settlements displaced and disrupted the way of life for the Paiutes, Gosiutes, Shoshones, Utes, and Navajos. One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1866, there were a number of Indian wars or conflicts. Some of these are briefly described below.

Mormon leader Brigham Young spoke out against the killing of Indians. With regard to the settlers who killed Indians, he said:

“Take the man and try him by law and let him receive the penalty. The law will slay him.”

An American militia group discovered the bodies of two men presumed to have been killed by Indians. Near Pipe Spring, Arizona, the militia group went to a Paiute camp where they killed two men who were “trying to escape.” They brought the rest back to Utah, but lost their patience and killed five of the prisoners. In an article in the Utah Historical Quarterly, Albert Winkler writes:

“This was the first of a series of killings in an apparent attempt to eliminate thieves or to intimidate the Indians into leaving.”

Ute chief Sanpitch and several of his men were arrested near Nephi because of rumors that he had been involved in violence against the American settlers. Sanpitch was told to bring in Black Hawk and his band or be shot. Albert Winkler reports:

“The chief had insufficient power to bring in the warring Utes, so he and his fellow prisoners broke jail rather than await execution.”

The escapees were hunted down and killed.

Sixteen unarmed Paiutes, including women and children, were killed near Circleville. The Paiute had been captured by the Mormons and were killed one at a time. Most had their throats slit. Three or four small children were spared and were adopted by Mormon families. According to Albert Winkler:

“Despite pleas for an investigation, federal and territorial officials took no action.”

Winkler also writes:

“The reluctance or inability of territorial and federal officials to assure that the proper legal procedures were followed in white relations with the Indians helped to create a climate that allowed for continued misconduct.”

Ute warriors killed two settlers in Round Valley and captured some stock. They were pursued by the militia, but managed to escape. In retaliation for the raid, one of the settlers killed Pannikay, an elder who was a part of the Pahvant, a group considered to be peaceful. Pannnikay was unarmed when he was killed and although he was murdered in front of witnesses there was no legal action taken against his killer.

A war party of 50-65 Utes under the presumed leadership of Black Hawk attacked Salina. Albert Winkler reports:

“Without effective opposition, the renegades rounded up the livestock and hit any convenient target outside the community.”

A militia garrison was established at Thistle Valley. Albert Winkler reports:

“The garrison presents a threat to Indian movements in the area and was a promising target for attack.”

It was attacked by a small Ute war party of 25-30 warriors. The warriors captured the militia’s horse herd, which immobilized them. The battle lasted for about nine hours before aid from Mount Pleasant arrived. According to Winkler:

“The fight at Thistle Valley was another close call for the whites in which a desperate situation nearly turned into a disaster.”

A party of 21 Americans pursued a Ute party at night. When they found some stolen cattle near Marysvale, they decided to enter the town before continuing their pursuit. However, Ute warriors, foreseeing this action, had hidden in the bush along the road and ambushed them. Two of the Americans were killed.

The Utes rebelled against increasing Mormon control of their lands. In the area of Panguitch Lake, the Mormon settlers declared that the Paiute were involved with the rebellion. The Pauite bands near Panguitch Lake would not let the Mormon settlers fish in the lake, but they would sell fish to them. The Mormons attacked a Paiute camp and killed a leading medicine man. The Mormons then declared a Paiute Mormon convert as “chief” and peace was declared. Following the “war” the lake became a fishing resort for non-Indians.

Mormon leader Brigham Young’s Manuscript History reported about the Shoshones:

“President Young said the Lamanites are hostile, let us exercise faith about them and learn what the will of the Lord is. Let us send our Interpreters to them and make presents and tell [them] they must stop fighting. It is better to give them $5000 than have to fight and kill them for they are of the House of Israel.”

Utah’s Black Hawk War

During 1865 to 1867, American and Mormon settlers in Utah were engaged in a war with a small group of Ute, Paiute, and Navajo warriors under the leadership of Ute chief Black Hawk. As a result of the conflict, the American and Mormon settlers abandoned much of southern and central Utah. At least nine communities were abandoned. The main object of most of the Indian raids was to take cattle for food. The Black Hawk War caused an estimated $1.5 million in losses.

While the Black Hawk War involved only a small group of warriors, Black Hawk’s raiders were so effective that it was a common perception among the Mormon settlers that all of the Indians in the territory were at war.

Setting the Stage:

 The Black Hawk war grew out of a complex set of circumstances which included the loss of Indian farms in Utah and the failure of the United States government to fulfill its treaty obligations. The Utes and the Paiutes had been displaced from their ancestral lands and they had been deprived of their economic base. As a result, they were left with only three options: they could starve, they could beg, or they could fight.

In 1863, Autenquer (Black Hawk), a San Pitch Ute war leader, began to form alliances with other Ute bands, as well as with Paiute and Navajo bands to raid Mormon communities. The Indians blamed the Mormons for stealing their country and fencing it in. One of the causes of the raids is hunger and the Indians raid the communities to get cattle to eat.

Two years later, the Treaty of Spanish Fork with the Paiute called for them to give up all lands claimed in Utah and to move to the Uintah Reservation. None of the signers of the treaty represented the Meadow Valley and Virgin River Paiute bands who were contesting Mormon encroachment on their territory.

Like the Paiute, the Ute also signed the Treaty of Spanish Fork in which they gave up all of their land in Utah except for the Uintah Valley. In exchange, the Ute were to receive $900,000 to be paid to them over 60 years and they were to be allowed to fish in all accustomed places and to gather roots and berries. All of the Ute chiefs, except for San Pitch, signed the treaty. San Pitch said: “If the talk is for us to trade the land in order to get the presents, I do not want any blankets or any clothing, if threat is the way they are to be got. I would rather do without them than to give up my title to the land I occupy. We want to live here as formerly.”

Kanosh opposed the treaty saying: “In past times, the Washington chiefs that came here from the United States would think and talk two ways and deceive us.”

Mormon leader Brigham Young, speaking for the United States, told the Ute: “If you do not sell your land to the Government, they will take it, whether you are willing to sell it or not.” Young also told them: “The land does not belong to you, nor to me, nor to the Government. It belongs to the Lord.”

Brigham Young assured them that they would receive houses, farms, cows, oxen, clothing, and other things. Because of his words, the chiefs signed the treaty.

The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because .of their disagreements with the Mormons. These disagreements with the Mormons had nothing to do with the Indians. The United States Senate wanted to punish the Mormons for their religious beliefs and refusing the treaty would increase the tensions between the Indians and the Mormon settlers.

The War:

 In 1865, the conflicts between the Utes under the leadership of San Pitch subchief Black Hawk and the Mormon settlers intensified. The Indians, driven by hunger, stole some cattle and in the process some Mormons were killed. Mormon leader John Taylor stated: “Some want to kill the Indians promiscuously, because some of them have killed some of our people. This is not right. Let the guilty be punished and innocent go free.”

Black Hawk visited the Elk Mountain Ute to gain allies in his war against the Mormons. Black Hawk’s warriors were soon joined by Ute warriors from other bands as well as by Paiute and Navajo warriors. At most the Black Hawk’s forces numbered only 60 to 100 warriors during the conflict. About half of the warriors were Navajos or Paiutes.

In 1865, a Ute war party under the leadership of Black Hawk ambushed the Sanpete militia near Red Lake. While the warriors produced a heavy rate of fire, they overshot the militia and the bullets struck the lake behind them.

A Mormon militia force of 84 pursued a Ute war party up Salina Canyon. At a narrow point in the canyon, the militia unit was ambushed by Ute warriors who were hidden behind rocks, trees, and bushes. The militia managed to escape with only two men killed and two wounded.

A Mormon militia group fired blindly into a large cedar grove near Burrville, killing more than a dozen Indians, including women and children. The incident was not officially investigated.

Several Indian woman and children were held captive by a Mormon militia unit. One of the women struck one of the guards and in retaliation he shot the woman and the rest of the prisoners. The incident was not officially investigated.

In 1866, Ute chief San Pitch and several of his men were arrested near Nephi because of rumors that he had been involved in violence against the American settlers. San Pitch was told to bring in Black Hawk and his band or be shot. Since San Pitch did not have the power to influence Black Hawk and his warriors, he and his fellow prisoners broke jail rather than await execution. The escapees were hunted down and killed.

In another incident, 16 unarmed Paiutes, including women and children, were killed near Circleville. The Paiutes had been captured by the Mormons and were killed one at a time. Most had their throats slit. Three or four small children were spared and were adopted by Mormon families. While there were pleas for an investigation, federal and territorial officials took no action. This reluctance or inability of territorial and federal officials to follow proper legal procedures with the Indians helped to create a climate that allowed for continued misconduct.

At Panguitch Lake, the Paiute bands would not let the Mormons fish in the lake, but they would sell fish to them. In response, the Mormons declared the Paiutes to be involved with Black Hawk’s warriors and attacked a Paiute camp. They then declared a Paiute Mormon convert to be the chief and restored the peace. Following this, the lake became a fishing resort for non-Indians.

In 1866, Mormon leader Brigham Young wrote: “The Lamanites are hostile, let us exercise faith about them and learn what the will of the Lord is. Let us send our Interpreters to them and make presents and tell [them] they must stop fighting. It is better to give them $5000 than have to fight and kill them for they are of the House of Israel.”

In 1867, the body of Simeon, a Paiute, was found near Paragonah with a bullet wound in the back of his head. William H. Dame, president of the Prowan Stake of the Latter Day Saints church and colonel in the militia was instructed by Mormon leaders Brigham Young and George A. Smith that the murder of a peaceful Indian must be dealt with by civil authorities. Subsequently an investigation into the murder was undertaken. When some people questioned whether or not Simeon had actually been murdered, his body was exhumed and the bullet removed from his skull. As a result of the investigation, murder charges are brought against Thomas Jose. Jose was convicted of second degree murder and was sentenced to ten years in the territorial penitentiary. He served one year and was then pardoned by the territorial governor.

After the War:

 In 1867, Black Hawk surrendered at the Uintah Reservation. He came without his men but gave information on those still at large. It was estimated that he had 58-64 warriors under him.

During the Black Hawk War, about 46 Mormon settlers were killed, including 11 women and children. Both sides killed noncombatants.

The primary purpose of most of the Indian raids was to obtain cattle. Black Hawk’s warriors captured about 5,000 cattle. This focus on cattle shows that the warriors were often desperate for food.

In 1869, the San Pitch Ute, once led by Autenquer (Black Hawk), followed the civil leader Tabby-to-kwana to the Uintah Valley Reservation. The Ute had been assured that they would be able to continue to hunt and gather on all public lands.

 Following the war, Black Hawk toured many of the settlements in central and southern Utah, speaking to Mormon congregations and asking for their understanding and forgiveness. In speaking to these communities, Black Hawk emphasized that his people had been destitute and starving. Some of the Mormon settlers greeted him with understanding, while others, remembering the deaths of family and friends, rejected his offer of reconciliation.

The Great Basin Tribes

The Great Basin includes the high desert regions between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains. It is bounded on the north by the Columbia Plateau and on the south by the Colorado Plateau. It includes all of the present-day states of Nevada and Utah, and portions of Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. This is an area which is characterized by low rainfall and extremes of temperature. The summers in this desert area can be hot, while the winters can be bitterly cold. While it is a physical region that does not seem hospitable to human habitation, Indian people have lived in the Great Basin for thousands of years.

The Great Basin was the last part of the United States to be explored and settled by the European-Americans. When the European-American invasion began in the nineteenth century, the invaders found that it was occupied by several different tribes, including the Bannock, Goshute, Mono, Northern Paiute, Panamint, Shoshone, Southern Paiute, Washo, and Ute.

Linguistically all of the Indian people of the Great Basin, with the exception of the Hokan-speaking Washo, spoke languages which belong to the Numic division of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The linguistic and archaeological data seem to suggest that the Numic-speaking people spread into the Great Basin from southeastern California. The homeland of the Numic-speaking groups in the Great Basin is generally seen as the Death Valley area.

The Numic languages appear to have divided into three sub-branches—Western, Central, and Southern—about 2,000 years ago. About a thousand years ago, the Numic-speaking people expanded northward and eastward.

The Ute:

 The Ute tribal territory included much of present-day Colorado and Utah. Much of this territory lies within the Colorado Plateau, a geological anomaly characterized by sedimentary rocks that have been lifted to an elevation of more than 6,000 feet. This is a semi-arid region.

 While the groups which are considered Ute shared a common language as well as other cultural features, they were never a single politically unified tribe. There was never a single tribal council or anything close to a supreme chief. Each of the groups, generally called “bands,” was politically autonomous. Membership in the bands was fluid and there was high mobility between the bands. The Ute bands include:

(1) the Weminuche (Weeminuche) or Ute Mountain Ute whose homeland is the San Juan drainage of the Colorado River.

(2) the Tabeguache (also known as Uncompahgre).

(3) the Grand River band.

(4) the Yampa whose homeland is in northwestern Colorado.

(5) the Uintah whose homeland ran from Utah Lake east through the Uinta Basin.

(6) the Muache (Moache) whose homeland ranged south along the Sangre de Cristos as far south as Taos, New Mexico.

(7) the Capote of the San Luis Valley and the upper Rio Grande.

(8) the Sheberetch in the area of present-day Moab, Utah.

(9) the Sanpits (San Pitch) in the Sanpete Valley in central Utah.

(10) the Timanogots near Utah Lake.

(11) Pahvant who lived in the deserts surrounding Sevier Lake, Utah.

(12) the White River (Parusanuch and Yamparika) in the White and Yampa River systems of Colorado.

After marriage, the couple would usually live with the wife’s band (matrilocal residence in anthropological terminology). This means that the bands were usually composed of several nuclear families which were related to each other through the female line.

The area occupied by the Ute was buffalo country and so buffalo, as well as mountain sheep, mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, antelope, moose, and rabbits, were utilized for their subsistence. The people also gathered a wide variety of different wild plants.

In hunting herd animals, the Ute often used drives in which the animals were driven into narrow areas where they could be more easily harvested. The Weminuche band hunted deer with poison arrows.

Shoshone:

The Shoshone (also spelled Shoshoni) take their name from the Shoshone word sosoni’ which refers to a type of high-growing grass. Some of the Plains tribes referred to the Shoshone as “Grass House People” which referred to the conically-shaped houses made from the native grasses. They were also referred to as the “Snakes” or “Snake People” by some Plains groups. This term comes from the sign which the people used for themselves in hand sign languages. The sign actually represents the salmon to the Shoshone, but among the Great Plains tribes, who were unfamiliar with the salmon, it was misinterpreted as meaning “snake.”

The Shoshone are often divided into four general groups:

(1) the Western Shoshone who lived in central Nevada, northeastern Nevada, and Utah. Some anthropologists have listed 43 different Western Shoshone groups.

(2) Northern Shoshone who lived in southern Idaho and adopted the horse culture after 1800.

(3) Eastern Shoshone of Wyoming who adopted many of the traits of Plains Indian culture.

(4) Southern Shoshone who live in the Death Valley area on the extreme southern edge of the Great Basin.

The Northern Shoshone groups include the Fort Hall Shoshone, the Lemhi Shoshone, the Mountain Shoshone, the Bruneau Shoshone, and the Boise Shoshone. The Lemhi Shoshone hunted buffalo in western Montana, but depended primarily upon salmon for their subsistence. The Bruneau Shoshone were not a horse people and depended largely on salmon and camas. The Boise Shoshone also used salmon and camas as primary foods and also hunted buffalo in Wyoming and Montana.

Shoshone bands, like other groups in the Great Basin and Plateau Culture Areas, were often named after their dominant food source. Thus mountain-dwelling Shoshone were known as Tukudika (“eaters of bighorn sheep” or sheep eaters). Other Shoshone groups include the Agaidika (salmon eaters), Padehiyadeka (elk eaters), Yahandeka (groundhog eaters), Pengwideka (fish eaters), Kamuduka (rabbit eaters), Tubaduka (pine-nut eaters), and Hukandeka (seed eaters), and the Kukundika (also spelled Kutsundeka; buffalo eaters).

Among the Western Shoshone, the most important game animals were antelope and bighorn. In hunting antelope, the animals would be driven along a V-shaped runway into a corral which had been constructed of brush, stones, and poles. A medicine person who had the power to capture antelopes’ souls through dreams, songs, and rituals, would aid the hunt by drawing the animals’ souls, and thus the animals themselves, into the corral.

Bannock:

The Bannock, who call themselves Bana’kwut (“Water People”), were called Buffalo Eaters and Honey Eaters by other tribes. The Shoshone referred to them with the term “pannaitti.” Brigham Madsen, in his book The Bannock of Idaho, reports that the Bannock

“migrated from the desert areas of southeastern Oregon to the more propitious and well-watered region found at the confluence of the Portneuf and Blackfoot streams with the Snake River.”

In the Snake and Lemhi River valleys and in the Bridger Basin, the Bannock came into close contact with the Shoshone and the two groups often intermarried. Today, the term “Sho-Ban” is often used to refer to the two tribes. Culturally, the two groups shared a common heritage and a similar worldview. They also spoke closely related languages. With intermarriage, many became bilingual.

Goshute (Gosiute):

The traditional homeland of the Goshute was south and west of Great Salt Lake. They lived in the Toole, Rush, and Skull valleys. There are many who feel that the Goshute are linguistically and culturally Shoshone. The Goshute bands include Cedar Valley, Deep Creek, Rush Valley, Skull Valley, Toole Valley, and Trout Creek.

Historically these people have been designated as Go-Sha-Utes, Goshee Utes, Goshoots, Go-shutes, Gosh Yuta, Go-ship Utes, and Goships. The term “Goshute” seems to come from the Shoshone term “kusippih” which has a meaning of “dry earth,” probably in reference to the marginal land which they inhabited.

Paiute:

There are fifteen Southern Paiute bands: Chemehuevi, Las Vegas, Moapa, Paranigat, Panaca, Shivwits, St. George, Gunlock, Cedar, Beaver, Panguitch, Uinkaret, Kaibab, Kaiparowits, and San Juan. In the northern part of the Great Basin, the bands tended to call themselves after a particular food source: “salmon eaters,” “mountain sheep eaters,” and so on. In the south, the band names tended to be geographical.

 

Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part V (Termination Era, 1954-1986)

( – promoted by navajo)

red_black_rug_design2American-Indian-Heritage-Month

photo credit: Aaron Huey

Don’t worry if you missed previous installments. This diary will serve as a stand-alone and as part of the series.

In the 20th century, there were two separate, legal, Modoc entities: the Klamath Tribes of Oregon, which includes the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahuskin peoples (a band of Snake Indians), created by an 1864 Treaty, and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, who were created out of the US Army’s POWs from the Modoc War of 1872-1873.

Blogging is a self-reflexive and responsive activity. Several commentators have appeared, calling these diaries “whining” about the past. Not relevant to present concerns.  That is not true.  This is a generational series, and by starting off with contact, we’ve worked our way with a context to the 20th century. We’ve covered the eras of (Fur) Trade, the First Reservation System (they stay over there) the Second Reservation System, (they move to there) the Indian Wars in the West, (kill the people) forced removal (we send them there) the Assimilation Era (save the man, kill the Indian) and now we come to a forgotten time. It’s forgotten even though many of its survivors are still alive: The Termination Era. And many of you were alive then, too.

What is Termination? If I was to tell you that an Indian tribe legally existed and then it later didn’t, you might find that a little surprising. But that’s exactly what happened, multiple times, in modern American history.  So along came a proponent of assimilation.  He was a Western senator, a Mormon, moderately conservative, of the Republican Party. And he had a plan that would legally extinguish Modoc people in Oregon.

Geographic and Economic Context

In order to understand the termination of the Klamath Tribes, we need to talk about money, politics and God.  With the Fourth and Fifth Generations since contact nearly all dead, Modoc people in Oregon were fully transformed. Once a people of marshes (originally called “Lake Indians”) who would subsist on the woca lily, fish, waterfowl and their eggs, and big game, the Modoc people now lived far to the north, east of Crater Lake in the Ponderosa pine forests of the Klamath Reservation. The Sixth and Seventh Generations grew up speaking English and were Christians–Methodists mostly. Forced dependency on western foods–flour, sugar, salt–made for a semi-Western diet.

All together, the land that had been lost by the three tribes totaled 23 million acres. By comparison, in 1888, the Klamath reservation spanned 1,056,000 acres (that equals 4.5%).  The rights to fish, hunt and gather on the reservation were retained. However, the reservation was resource poorer land than the wetlands and the major rivers to the south.  Attempts to farm as instructed by missionaries had failed. But since all three tribes considered horses a form of wealth, cattle ranching easily translated into a major industry.  Back in the 1850s, cattle on Modoc land was a source of contention as settlers passed through, and Modocs treated the animals as game. But historically, the largest industry of all proved to be timber.  Shortly before the war had began in 1870, a sawmill was finally constructed, as promised in the 1864 treaty.

By the 1880s, Modoc people were transporting goods across Klamath County, down to the main settlement at Linkville, now Klamath Falls, which is on the eastern side of Klamath Lake.  In 1911, reservation timber sales soared with the advent of the railroad economy in the county.  

At the turn of the century, the US was reaching a peak of industrialization; port cities across the West Coast blossomed. That meant a lot of construction–wood construction.

Timber management made the Klamath Tribes one of the richest in the nation.  While pictures of early Portland show a tree-bereft landscape out to the horizon, the Klamath Tribes did not clear-cut.  They would select individual trees, from which sale proceeds would enter a tribal (communal) fund.  There always was (and still is) resentment towards Indians, especially Klamath Tribes people, as to Indian wealth management and resource rights.

Ideology

Indian policy at this time had taken a turn. Now considered mostly Westernized–educated at boarding schools, English speaking, hair cut, and Christian, not to mention off the valuable land and hidden away at former POW camps–officials saw Indians as mostly benign. In their eyes, assimilation had succeeded. Indians were granted the right to vote in the 20th century. To complete assimilation, Indians would have to be no longer legally separated from society.

The path to termination began in the 1940s, coinciding with the Cold War. The Cold War was at its “hottest” from 1948, when Stalin blockaded Berlin, to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Washington D.C. saw itself in a struggle to defend free markets and democracy both against collective ownership and authoritarian government.  With an American people firmly adhering to generations of rugged individualism philosophy, with warfare seen as positive again (it was despised in the 20th century until WWII) and a deep animosity towards collective ownership, it’s not hard to imagine the sentiments felt by both non-Indians in Klamath County and non-Indian lawmakers in Washington as to the Tribes.

From 1947 to 1959, Arthur V. Watkins served as US senator (sorry for the error) from Utah. He had been a rancher on 600 acres, a Columbia University-educated lawyer and a missionary for the Church of Latter-Day Saints. He remained highly active in the Church.

Watkins was not a rabid anticommunist, but he was fully anathema to Indian values and became the leading proponent of Termination. He saw termination as the completion of assimilation. The senator envisioned benefits from the erasure of differences between Indians and whites (who would eventually breed out the Indian). Actually, he went further, comparing termination to the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War, freeing them from wardship of the state.  Watkins chaired the Senate Interior Committee Subcommittee on Indian Affairs.

Termination Begins

In 1953, the US Congress officially began Termination Era legislation with House Concurrent Resolution 108:

Whereas it is the policy of Congress, as rapidly as possible, to make the Indians within the territorial limits of the United States subject to the same laws and entitled to the same privileges and responsibilities as are applicable to other citizens of the United States, to end their status as wards of the United States, and to grant them all of the rights and prerogatives pertaining to American citizenship.

Responsibilities here means federal and state taxes to which legally recognized Indian tribes were not subject. This use of wards arises from perception, dating to surveys in 1943, that found that American Indians were living in abject poverty across the nation. Officials believed they were doing the morally right thing and correcting government abuse by termination. Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled a list of the most economically prosperous tribes to start the termination process. The Klamath Tribes were the second richest. That year, Congress passed Public Law 280, which gave the states legal jurisdiction over all but a couple reservations in the US.

The next year, 1954, was the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Klamath Tribes. Through the heavy involvement of Watkins and like-minded legislators, the first American Indian tribe would be terminated by the Menominee Termination Act.  That August, Congress passed the Klamath Termination Act. Only four years prior, Jennie Clinton, the last Modoc War survivor died.  The Modoc people would legally no longer exist. It only took seven generations since contact.

1954-1986

Termination was not immediate. In fact, Klamath Tribes members could choose between remaining as tribal members or accepting a payment for an individual land parcel to be ceded, but only one choice had much incentive.  Federal recognition of the tribe ceased, and with that, the hunting and fishing rights. And with that abrogation, even more water rights had been lost across the generations. A total of 1660 people withdrew from the tribe. Those remaining became part of a management plan handled by a bank up north in Portland.

The Klamath Reservation lands entered the US Forest Service system, where the lands were badly managed. One portion of former reservation fell under US Fish and Wildlife management. The Tribes state that “the Deer population (while in State and Federal control) went from 60 per sq. mile in the 1950’s, to approximately 4 per sq. mile today, in the former reservation area.”

Modoc people along with the other tribes suffered increasing poverty. The small town of Chiloquin, at the former center of the Klamath Reservation, saw an influx of new whites and a rise in violence. A town of less than 1000 became known as one of the most dangerous places in Oregon: robberies, kidnappings, unsolved disappearances and shootings.

The Seventh and Eighth Generations knew Termination. Kossack deeproots bears witness in the comments:

I remember what happened with the Klamath/Modoc (2+ / 0-)

termination.  Although my family is not Native American, my father had lived and worked in Klamath County and had a number of Klamath friends.  He was in anguish as he saw what happened to so many members of the tribe.  Those who took the cash settlements were preyed upon by merchants in Klamath Falls who sold them stoves and refrigerators when some didn’t even have electricity in their homes, and they jacked up the prices of everything, especially automobiles, which many Klamaths wanted.  The money was soon gone for many former tribal members, who then had absolutely nothing.  Those who kept their land did somewhat better, although the loss of hunting and fishing rights was grievous.  My father said the U.S. government was trying to kill off the Indians and was doing a damn good job of it.  

Congressional termination of tribes ended in the 1960s. Other aspects of Indian policy proved more pernicious. Discreet sterilizations of American Indian women, without their consent or knowledge, date back to the early 20th century and continued until at least the late 1970s. These were especially common in Oregon, the last state to employ sterilization, where it may have continued into the early 1980s. The Indian Adoption Era officially lasted from Termination into the 1970s. With tribes no longer federally recognized, Indian individuals could be adopted by white families and the process of assimilation completed.  Even members of the Ninth Generation of Modoc people since contact, Millenials, have been adopted out to non-Indian families.

Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians

Part I (Contact, 1820-1852)

Part II (First Reservation Era, 1852-1872)

Part III (War and Second Reservation Era, 1872-1950)

Part IV (Removal Era, 1873-1909)

Tribal Restoration and Dick Cheney will feature in the next (and final?) part of this series.

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Ancient America: Hovenweep

In 1854 a Mormon expedition under the leadership of W. D. Huntington reported finding some ancient ruins in southeast Utah. Twenty years later, the photographer William Henry Jackson gave the name Hovenweep-a Paiute/Ute word meaning “Deserted Valley”-to the ruins.

Hovenweep Castle

In 1150 CE, large pueblos with stone towers were built in the box canyons in the Hovenweep area of present-day Utah by Ancestral Puebloan people (sometimes called Anasazi). The building was done in Mesa Verde style. Both the architectural style and the pottery styles of Hovenweep appear to be closely related to those of the Ancestral Puebloan people at Mesa Verde.

The characteristic architectural features of the pueblos, the stone towers, were built as astronomical observatories. The towers included square and circular towers as well as some D-shaped towers. At some of the D-shaped towers, all four of the major solar events-equinoxes and solstices-could be observed in rooms within the towers.

Square Tower

Hovenweep 2

One of the major feature of Ancestral Puebloan sites is the kiva: an underground ceremonial room. At the Hovenweep towns, the kivas are often associated with the towers.

As with the Ancestral Puebloan people in other areas, such as Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, the people at Hoveneep were highly skilled stone masons. Their well-constructed buildings were aesthetically pleasing as well as being functional and long-lasting. Some of the structures utilized large, irregularly shaped boulders as their foundation.

Hovenweep door

As with the Ancestral Puebloan great houses at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, the builders of the great houses at Hovenweep used T-shaped doors. These doors usually led into public spaces and were not sealed off.

The pueblos were constructed at the heads of box canyons where moisture percolates through the sandstone on the mesa and emerges at the canyon heads in the form of seeps and springs. The Ancestral Puebloan people, utilizing their good knowledge of hydrology, built check dams and reservoirs to control the precious water supply. The check dams above the canyons helped recharge the ground water supply and ensure that the springs within the canyon would continue to provide water throughout the year. This Hovenweep water system allowed them to cultivate garden plots on the terraced slopes of the lower canyons. It also encouraged the growth of native edible or useful plants, such as beeweed, ground cherry, sedges, milkweed, cattail, and wolf berry.

Today, the Hovenweep ruins are a national monument which is administered by the National Park Service.

Cajon Group

A prolonged drought from 1276 to 1299 created major problems for the Ancestral Puebloan communities. The drought meant that they could not grow enough food to feed their people. From the Hovenweep area of Utah, the people began a migration south into the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and the Little Colorado River Basin in Arizona. Here they established new villages and merged with existing populations to become many of the contemporary Pueblos.

According to modern Pueblo traditions, the ancient communities were abandoned because the serpent god mysteriously left. The serpent god controls rain and fertility. The people left the towns and followed the snake’s trail until they found a river where they once again built their communities.  

Ancient America: Utah

( – promoted by navajo)

Ten thousand years ago, Native American people in what is now Utah had a lifeway that was centered around a pattern of seasonal wandering, the hunting of animals, and the gathering of plants. Human habitations at this time tended to cluster around lakes. Native American groups were surviving and prospering in an austere environment because they had an intimate knowledge of the land and its resources.  

The people during this time which archaeologists call the Archaic Period (10,000 years ago to 1,500 years ago) were gathering a variety of seeds and nuts (including grass seeds, pickleweed, and bulrush). Seeds were collected in tremendous numbers using baskets of various kinds and were processed into flour with milling stones.

The people were also hunting both small and large animals, including mountain sheep, deer, antelope, rabbits, and ground squirrels.

The archaeological evidence of the human habitation in Utah during the Archaic Period comes primarily from caves and rockshelters. This does not necessarily mean that these were used as their primary homes, but rather the preservation of materials was better in these locations and thus the archaeologists are more likely to find evidence here.

Some of the earliest evidence of Native Americans in Utah comes from Danger Cave. Archaeological evidence shows that American Indians were camping here by 9000 BCE. They were lighting fires on the cave’s sandy floor and leaving a scattering of stone flakes and milling stones.

By 7500 BCE, the Utah Native Americans were engaged in a roving pattern of hunting and gathering and occupying settlements seasonally. Some of the plant foods being used by the people at this time included seeds from pickleweed. They were also hunting big game animals including  deer, pronghorn antelope, mountain sheep, elk, and buffalo. They were trapping small game, such as rabbit, with netting.

Indian people were occupying Old Man Cave by 6900 BCE. The plants being used by the people at this site included prickly pear, sand dropseed, marshelder, sunflower, and goosefoot. Indian rice grass was also an important food.  

In 6350 BCE, Indian people began to use Hogup Cave as a base camp. Here they gathered plants for food, fuel, and for making baskets and mats. They also hunted waterfowl, small mammals, and larger mammals. The larger mammals included pronghorn antelope, mule deer, mountain sheep, and bison.

Among the artifacts left at Hogup Cave were engraved pebbles. Archaeologists are somewhat puzzled about the use of the odd little stone slabs and pebbles. They were neatly engraved with some tough stone tool, the simple designs being cut rather carefully in any of several geometric patterns.

By 6000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Sudden Shelter located in Ivie Creek Canyon. Hunting was the major activity carried out by the people who occupied this site. Sudden Shelter was a base camp from which the people were able to exploit a wide variety of resources. One of the main animals being hunted was the mule deer.

By 5000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Deluge Shelter on Jones Hole Creek. The people at this site were hunting mule deer.

By 4300 BCE, the Indian people who occupied Sudden Shelter had changed their patterns of resource exploitation. They were now using slab-lined fire pits and milling stones indicating that plant resources had become more important. The most heavily utilized plant resource at this time was goosefoot. At this time Sudden Shelter was occupied primarily between April and September.

About 4000 BCE, there was a dramatic increase in the number of sites occupied by Indian people. There was a broadening of settlement patterns with an increased emphasis on the exploitation of resources in the upland zones.

At this same time, Indian people were using Spotten Cave at the south end of Utah Valley. Spotten Cave was used as a temporary stopover as the people moved from the Goshen Valley bottoms to the uplands of Long Ridge or the Wasatch Front.

By 2600, the Indian people at Sudden Shelter were using more amaranth. In addition, they were hunting more bighorn sheep. While the technology used by the Indian people at Sudden Shelter was similar in many respects to the hunters and gatherers who occupied this area later, the size of the local group at Sudden Shelter appears to have been smaller.  

In 2220 BCE, Indian people began to occupy Thorne Cave in the Uinta Basin. They were hunting jackrabbit, cottontail, antelope, beaver, and bighorn sheep.

By 1700 BCE, Indian people were now using American Fork Cave. They were hunting mountain sheep. The cave was used as a base camp from which mountain sheep were hunted in the steep and broken country of American Fork Canyon.

The Archaic Period in Utah ends with the emergence of the Fremont people in 1500 BCE.  

Utah’s Black Hawk War

( – promoted by navajo)

During 1865 to 1867, American and Mormon settlers in Utah were engaged in a war with a small group of Ute, Paiute, and Navajo warriors under the leadership of Ute chief Black Hawk. As a result of the conflict, the American and Mormon settlers abandoned much of southern and central Utah. At least nine communities were abandoned. The main object of most of the Indian raids was to take cattle for food. The Black Hawk War caused an estimated $1.5 million in losses.

While the Black Hawk War involved only a small group of warriors, Black Hawk’s raiders were so effective that it was a common perception among the Mormon settlers that all of the Indians in the territory were at war.

Setting the Stage:

The Black Hawk war grew out of a complex set of circumstances which included the loss of Indian farms in Utah and the failure of the United States government to fulfill its treaty obligations. The Utes and the Paiutes had been displaced from their ancestral lands and they had been deprived of their economic base. As a result, they were left with only three options: they could starve, they could beg, or they could fight.

In 1863, Autenquer (Black Hawk), a San Pitch Ute war leader, began to form alliances with other Ute bands, as well as with Paiute and Navajo bands to raid Mormon communities. The Indians blamed the Mormons for stealing their country and fencing it in. One of the causes of the raids is hunger and the Indians raid the communities to get cattle to eat.

Two years later, the Treaty of Spanish Fork with the Paiute called for them to give up all lands claimed in Utah and to move to the Uintah Reservation. None of the signers of the treaty represented the Meadow Valley and Virgin River Paiute bands who were contesting Mormon encroachment on their territory.

Like the Paiute, the Ute also signed the Treaty of Spanish Fork in which they gave up all of their land in Utah except for the Uintah Valley. In exchange, the Ute were to receive $900,000 to be paid to them over 60 years and they were to be allowed to fish in all accustomed places and to gather roots and berries. All of the Ute chiefs, except for San Pitch, signed the treaty. San Pitch said:

“If the talk is for us to trade the land in order to get the presents, I do not want any blankets or any clothing, if threat is the way they are to be got. I would rather do without them than to give up my title to the land I occupy. We want to live here as formerly.”

Kanosh opposed the treaty saying:

“In past times, the Washington chiefs that came here from the United States would think and talk two ways and deceive us.”

Mormon leader Brigham Young, speaking for the United States, told the Ute:

“If you do not sell your land to the Government, they will take it, whether you are willing to sell it or not.”

Young also told them:

“The land does not belong to you, nor to me, nor to the Government. It belongs to the Lord.”

Brigham Young assured them that they would receive houses, farms, cows, oxen, clothing, and other things. Because of his words, the chiefs signed the treaty.

The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because of their disagreements with the Mormons. These disagreements with the Mormons had nothing to do with the Indians. The United States Senate wanted to punish the Mormons for their religious beliefs and refusing the treaty would increase the tensions between the Indians and the Mormon settlers.

The War:

In 1865, the conflicts between the Utes under the leadership of San Pitch subchief Black Hawk and the Mormon settlers intensified. The Indians, driven by hunger, stole some cattle and in the process some Mormons were killed. Mormon leader John Taylor stated:

“Some want to kill the Indians promiscuously, because some of them have killed some of our people. This is not right. Let the guilty be punished and innocent go free.”

Black Hawk’s warriors were soon joined by Ute warriors from other bands as well as by Paiute and Navajo warriors. At most the Black Hawk’s forces numbered only 60 to 100 warriors during the conflict. About half of the warriors were Navajos or Paiutes.

In 1866, Ute chief San Pitch and several of his men were arrested near Nephi because of rumors that he had been involved in violence against the American settlers. San Pitch was told to bring in Black Hawk and his band or be shot. Since San Pitch did not have the power to influence Black Hawk and his warriors,  he and his fellow prisoners broke jail rather than await execution. The escapees were hunted down and  killed.

In another incident, 16 unarmed Paiutes, including women and children, were killed near Circleville. The Paiute had been captured by the Mormons and were killed one at a time. Most had their throats slit. Three or four small children were spared and were adopted by Mormon families.  While there were pleas for an investigation, federal and territorial officials took no action. This reluctance or inability of territorial and federal officials to follow proper legal procedures with the Indians helped to create a climate that allowed for continued misconduct.

At Panguitch Lake, the Paiute bands would not let the Mormons fish in the lake, but they would sell fish to them. In response, the Mormons declared the Paiutes to be involved with Black Hawk’s warriors and attacked a Paiute camp. They then declared a Paiute Mormon convert to be the chief and restored the peace. Following this, the lake became a fishing resort for non-Indians.

In 1866, Mormon leader Brigham Young wrote:

“The Lamanites are hostile, let us exercise faith about them and learn what the will of the Lord is. Let us send our Interpreters to them and make presents and tell [them] they must stop fighting. It is better to give them $5000 than have to fight and kill them for they are of the House of Israel”

In 1867, the body of Simeon, a Paiute, was found near Paragonah with a bullet wound in the back of his head. William H. Dame, president of the Prowan Stake of the Latter Day Saints church and colonel in the militia was instructed by Mormon leaders Brigham Young and George A. Smith that the murder of a peaceful Indian must be dealt with by civil authorities. Subsequently an investigation into the murder was undertaken. When some people questioned whether or not Simeon had actually been murdered, his body was exhumed and the bullet removed from his skull. As a result of the investigation, murder charges are brought against Thomas Jose. Jose was convicted of second degree murder and was sentenced to ten years in the territorial penitentiary. He served one year and was then pardoned by the territorial governor.

After the War:

In 1867, Black Hawk surrendered at the Uinitah Reservation. He came without his men but gave information on those still at large. It was estimated that he had 58-64 warriors under him.  

During the Black Hawk War, about 46 Mormon settlers were killed, including 11 women and children. Both sides killed noncombatants.

The primary purpose of most of the Indian raids was to obtain cattle. Black Hawk’s warriors captured about 5,000 cattle. This focus on cattle shows that the warriors were often desperate for food.

In 1869, the San Pitch Ute, once led by Autenquer (Black Hawk), followed the civil leader Tabby-to-kwana to the Uintah Valley Reservation. The Ute had been assured that they would be able to continue to hunt and gather on all public lands.

Following the war, Black Hawk toured many of the settlements in central and southern Utah, speaking to Mormon congregations and asking for their understanding and forgiveness. In speaking to these communities, Black Hawk emphasized that his people had been destitute and starving. Some of the Mormon settlers greeted him with understanding, while others, remembering the deaths of family and friends, rejected his offer of reconciliation.

Utah’s Walker War

( – promoted by navajo)

The Walker War was a conflict between the Mormon settlers in Utah and Utah’s aboriginal peoples, the Ute. The leader of the Utes was Wakara, called Walker by the Mormons, and the conflict became known as the Walker War.  

Some Background:

In 1850, Ute leader Wakara invited Brigham Young to attend the annual Indian trade gathering in Utah Valley. Young and a delegation of Mormons met with the chiefs in council. When a Shoshone group raided a Ute camp, Wakara asked Brigham Young for Mormon militia support in the retaliation raid. The support was refused.

While angry with the Mormons for refusing aid, Wakara led his Ute warriors against the Shoshone. Upon his return after effecting bloody retaliation on the Shoshone raiders, Wakara and his band demonstrated in front of the settlement fort at Manti, showing off their war trophies. Walker then decided to move north and attack the Mormon settlement at Provo. However, Ute chief Sowiette persuaded him to call off the attack.

The War:

In 1853, the Mormons killed a Ute man and wounded two others near Springville. The fight originated over a trade of flour for fish. The slain man was one of Wakara’s relatives. Wakara demanded that the killers be turned over to him. When Indians had killed Mormons, the Mormons had always demanded that the chiefs turn the killers over to Mormon authorities for punishment. The Mormons, however, refused to turn the killers over to the Utes for punishment.

Tensions between Mormons and Utes culminated in the Walker War. Wakara, the chief of the Tumpanuwac band of Utes, led a series of effective raids against Mormon communities to obtain food and livestock.

In response to the raids, the Utah Territorial Militia was mobilized. Behind this organization stood the full power of the Mormon church. Many of the highest ranking militia and civil leaders were also ranking church officials.

At Clover Creek a Mormon group driving cattle was attacked by a Ute party, but their militia escort drove them off. The militia reported killing as many as five Ute warriors.

Acting in direct violation of general orders a Mormon militia unit attacked a Ute camp near Goshen, killing four or five people. The Ute survivors escaped death by hiding in the marshes until the attacking militia left.

When a group of Ute came to the fort at Nephi seeking protection, the townspeople killed them “like dogs.” One eyewitness wrote:

“Nine Indians coming into our camp looking for protection and bread with us … were shot down without one minute’s notice”

Another eyewitness writes:

“They were shot down like so many dogs, picked up with pitchforks [put] on a sleigh and hauled away”

In 1854, the Walker War ended when Ute chiefs Ammon and Migo indicated that they were ready for peace.  The Ute warriors recognized that they were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. When Wakara returned from the Navajo country he also agreed to peace. He asked for food, guns, and ammunition.

The peace negotiations were carried out at Chicken Creek. Initially, Wakara refused to leave his tent, but Brigham Young entered the lodge. Young laid his hands upon Wakara’s sick daughter and gave her a blessing. After a long and patient negotiation, Walkara was able to accept defeat without humiliation.  

Mormons and Indians in Early Utah

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1847, the Mormons entered what is now Utah and began to build their Kingdom of God on Earth. There are some who feel that that this was to be a kingdom that did not include the American Indian residents of Utah. Unlike American settlers in other parts of the west, the Mormons have included Indians in their religion and their entry into Utah challenged their religious attitude toward Indians. The Book of Mormon promised that the Indians would be redeemed through the influence of the gospel, but the reality of the frontier situation in Utah demanded the immediate displacement of the Indians.

According to the Book of Mormon, Indians are descendents of Israelites who came to the Americas about 600 BCE. These Israelites were the descendants from Laman, the rebellious son of Lehi. Shortly after the Israelites arrived in the Americas, they divided into two great civilizations, one which followed the true gospel and the other which followed darkness and apostasy. The Book of Mormon describes how Jesus came to the Americas following his resurrection and preached to the American Indians.  

To the Mormons, redemption of the Indians (whom they called Lamanites) was a prophecy to be fulfilled and a scripture to be vindicated. Thus Mormon ideology regarding the origin and identity of the Indians was responsible for some favorable attitudes and policies toward them.

Shortly after the arrival of the Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake Valley, small groups of Shoshone and Ute came to trade horses for guns. The area was a buffer zone which was contested between the Ute and the Shoshone. The Shoshone told the Mormons that the Ute were interfering with their rights. Concerned about the possibility of conflict, the Mormons ceased trading guns and ammunition to the Indians. The Mormons also abandoned their earlier policy of buying or renting land from Indians and declared ownership based on divine donation and beneficial use. According to Heber Kimball:

“The land belongs to our Father in Heaven, and we calculate to plow and plant it; and no man shall have the power to sell his inheritance for he cannot remove it; it belongs to the Lord.”

The Mormons, unlike the trappers who had preceded them, intended to stay in Utah. Therefore they needed to develop a stable relationship with Native Americans. Brigham Young announced a policy of friendliness toward Indians that was designed to minimize tensions between settlers and natives. Brigham Young’s policy was to deal with the Indians fairly. Unlike other American settlers, the Mormons were not to kill Indians randomly, nor were Indians to be killed for stealing. This policy, however, was soon challenged.

In 1849, the Mormon settlers were having many horses and cattle stolen by Indians. In response, Brigham Young sent out a militia company to end the depredations. The militia surrounded the small Ute band of Little Chief and engaged in a four-hour battle in which all four warriors were killed. This engagement, carried out with determination and dispatch, shows a change in Brigham Young’s policy that Indians would not, or should not, be killed for stealing.

The following year some Shoshone warriors from Terrikee’s band rode through the grain fields and melon patches of Mormon settlers near Ogden. Fearing trouble, Terrikee sent his people away. However, he was killed by a Mormon farmer who thought that the chief was trying to steal corn. In retaliation, the Shoshones killed a Mormon settler. This incident heightened tension between Mormon settlers and the outlying Northwestern Shoshone to the north of Great Salt Lake.

In 1850, following an argument over a stolen shirt, Mormon settlers in Utah Valley killed a Ute known as Old Bishop, stuffed his stomach with rocks, and threw his body into the Provo River. When the Utes found the body, the Mormons feared retribution and asked for help from the Mormon Militia.

In response to the call for help, the Mormon militia engaged a Ute band of Big Elk which had been weakened by an epidemic. The Utes retreated with the sick and wounded, taking refuge in a nearby canyon. About 40 Utes were killed and the militia commander, who was under orders to take no prisoners, killed those who surrendered. The women and children were herded into an open stockade. Even though it was winter, they were fed slop in troughs like beasts. The captive children were distributed among the Mormons, to be brought up in the habits of a Christian life. Most escaped at their first opportunity.

By 1850 the Mormon policy with regard to Indians had changed. Reports of depredations were now followed by militia action. The best land was to be taken by Mormon settlers without payment. The Indians were to be strictly excluded from Mormon settlements. Stealing by Indians was often to bring swift punishment, including death.

Congress voted to organize the Territory of Utah in 1850. When Brigham Young announced this to the General Assembly, he also talked about the Indians:

“But habits of civilization seem not to be in accordance with their physical formation; many that have tried it, pine away, and unless returned to their former habits of living, die in a very short time. Could they be induced to live peacefully and keep herds of cattle, the conditions would very materially be ameliorated, and gradually induce a return to the habits of civilization.”

Brigham Young asked Mormon lobbyists in Washington to persuade the government to extinguish Indian title to lands in the Great Basin of Utah and Nevada and to legalize Mormon settlement and land claims.

As an organized American territory, policies regarding Indians in Utah now came under the federal government. This, however, did not end the conflicts and over the next 20 years there were a number of Indian conflicts and wars.  

Indians 101: Utes Held by Army

( – promoted by navajo)

The United States acquired what would become Colorado and Utah from Mexico following a brief war in 1848. In the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States agreed to recognize Indian land holdings and to allow Indian people to continue their customs and languages. At this time, the primary Indian tribes in Colorado were the Ute, Comanche, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. It was not long, however, before the American settlers in Colorado began to advocate that all Indians be removed from the territory so that the land could be developed for cattle, farming, and mining by non-Indians.

In 1880, the American government forced the Whiteriver Ute to agree to move to the Uintah Reservation in Utah where they were to live with other Ute bands. Under the agreement with the federal government, the bands were to have a perpetual trust fund created from the sale of their Colorado homelands. The United States, however, makes no attempt to sell the Ute lands and they remain in government possession.  

American greed for land and minerals caught up with the Ute in Utah. Soon American settlers were advocating the opening of the Uintah Reservation to non-Indian settlement. Without consulting the Ute, in 1903 Congress passed an act to allot the Uintah Reservation. Under allotment, tribal members would be given parcels of land for “farming” and the remainder of the reservation opened for non-Indian settlement. The Ute protested the act.

In 1905, a non-Indian commission selected the allotments for the Ute in the Uintah Valley. The least valuable lands on the reservation were allotted and the remaining lands, the best farm lands, were opened for homesteading by non-Indians. The Utah Mormons met and held a drawing for the best lands in the valley.

In addition to opening the reservation, a Presidential proclamation took 101,000 acres from the Ute and added it to the Uintah National Forest. An additional 60,120 acres were set aside for reclamation and reservoir purposes.  

Many of the Utes, particularly those from the Whiteriver bands, were upset about the allotment of their reservation and the increase of non-Indian settlers. Red Cap spoke to the Ute who had gathered for the 1906 Bear Dance:

“The white people have robbed us of our cattle, our pony grass, and our hunting grounds”

As a result of his encouragement, between 300 and 600 gathered with their wagons, supplies, and horses near present-day Bridgeland.  They planned to travel to Montana and  South Dakota, where they hoped to form an alliance with the Sioux and with the Crow and to stop the allotment program.

Initially their journey took them into Wyoming where one dispatch reported:

“Seven hundred Utes are slaughtering cattle and sheep, robbing ranches and committing other depredations in the vicinity of Douglas, on the Platte River 150 miles north of Cheyenne. They are in an ugly mood and refuse to return to their reservation at White Rocks, Utah.”

The governor of Wyoming telegraphed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to have them removed. The Commissioner replied:

“As long as they [the Indians] are peaceful and do not threaten hostility it does not seem that the Federal government would be justified in interfering with them.”

A special inspector from the Bureau of Indian Affairs met with the Ute and persuaded 45 of them to return to the reservation. He reported that about 100 were planning to go to the Big Horn Mountains to settle and the rest were bound for Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

On their journey, the Utes were peaceful. They killed game, but they felt that the game belonged to Indian people. In spite of the newspaper accounts, there was no violence toward non-Indians. The governor, however, reported that the Indians were drinking, insulting and stealing. He demanded federal help. The President sent his request to the War Department. Two detachments of the Tenth Cavalry were sent to meet with Red Cap.

The army made a strong show of force and the Indians saw the hopelessness of their situation. The military then escorted them to Fort Meade, South Dakota. In spite of court rulings indicating that Indians were entitled to due process of law, the army assumed that the Utes were prisoners of war.

In South Dakota, the Ute found that the Sioux have no interest in entering into an alliance with them. The Sioux were facing difficult times. The army placed the Ute band on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

With regard to the Ute situation, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs recommended not feeding them. In a speech to the Lake Mohonk Conference he said:

“It was not the government’s fault that they took the course they did in order to get into a place where they could live in idleness and eat the bread of charity. If they persist in that course they will be made to understand what the word ‘must’ means.”

His words are met with a round of applause.

In 1908, the Ute who had gone to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota were returned to the Uintah reservation in Utah under military escort. The Ute leaders were defeated and discouraged. They were unable to control the destiny of their people. The American government dictated their destiny with no concern for possible Constitutional rights, even though the courts had consistently ruled that Indians were entitled to those rights.

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