Utah: some show of justice

The conflict between whites and Indians was not without "some show of justice" on the part of the Indians, as Brigham Young admitted in his report to Commissioner Manypenny. The land was parceled out among the tribal groups long before white men came. There was a centuries-old ceremony involved in passing from the land of one group to that of another. White men ignored this ritual, either because they had no knowledge of it or because they felt, in their superiority, no need to observe it. There was not much economic land in Utah, and when one Indian group was forced out it had to enter the lands of another for subsistence. This caused conflict between groups, but they often joined against the common invader.

It is surprising on the whole that the history of Utah's Indian wars is not longer than it is. The killing of Captain J. W. Gunnison and members of his party by Pahvant Indians in 1853 was in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Chief Moshoquop's father by emigrants to California. The Walker War of 1853-54 was precipitated by the occupation of Indian lands by white people, and would probably have been more serious except for the restraining influence of the Ute war chief, Sowiette. For years the killing of a number of white travelers at Mountain Meadows in 1857 was thought to be entirely the work of Paiute Indians, but subsequent evidence indicated that, though involved, they were not the instigators. A Mormon, John D. Lee, was executed in 1877, after conviction in a Federal court for his part in the crime. Shoshoni resistance to white settlement was crushed when six hundred Indians were surrounded and killed by Federal soldiers in January, 1863 (seeTour 1a). The Black Hawk War of 1865-68 (a Ute conflict, not to be confused with the Illinois Black Hawk War in 1827-31), was waged over the same question of white preemption of hunting grounds, and had the same sort of ending. In 1879 the Indian agent, N. C. Meeker, and others were killed at the White River Agency in western Colorado by Ute Indians who objected to maltreatment and to having soldiers on the reservation. The outbreak was quickly subdued, mainly because of the peaceful attitude of Chief Ouray, and the Utes were afterward moved to reservations. The three men who left Major J. W. Powell's Colorado River expedition in 1869 were killed by Shivwits Indians. There were Navaho raids in southwestern Utah in the sixties and seventies, and trouble with Paiutes and Utes in the San Juan area in the eighties and nineties. As late as 1921 there was a lesser Paiute uprising in the San Juan country, which terminated when the leader, "Old Posey," was fatally wounded. Between 1861, when the Uintah Basin was set aside for Indian use by President Lincoln, and 1929, when the Kanosh reservation was established, Indians within the State were settled on reservations.

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