The Black Hawk War: Utah’s Forgotten Tragedy

Published on 7 Mar 2013

Chief Black Hawk, Utah’s famous Ute Indian leader, for just seven months led counter attacks against Mormon intrusion and domination, and three years campaigning for a peaceful end to the war. Brigham Young’s Black Hawk War in Utah was not a single event, there were some 150 bloody confrontations between Mormon settlers and North American Indian peoples over a 21 year period. 

The ancient and vibrant culture of Native Ute’s numbered in the tens of thousands, at minimum 50,000 or more. For over a hundred years the Ute’s had long before established a business of trade in horses, tanned leather, furs, silver, and crafts, that reached from the Columbia River to the Gulf of Mexico. Their prowess as a powerful nation spanned centuries of time.

Brigham Young declared Utah was the place, and Mormon settlers by the tens of thousands arrived in the territory during the years of 1847 thru 1870. It followed that Native Indian population steadily declined by 90 percent from disease, starvation, and violence! It is disturbing, but not surprising, the victors accounts brush by this tragedy. That Natives to the land were subjected to deceit, dishonesty, torture, mass butchery, rape, and death, death to others, to animals, plants, to the waters, and the land. 

Indigenous men, women, and children were left to wonder alone in a land they believed belonged to them for eternity. A people who in their final agony cried out “we are human too.” – Phillip B Gottfredson

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