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Opinion: Chief Black Hawk was notorious leader of Ute people

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: utah, ute, wars

A monument that describes how the Black Hawk War got started in Utah in 1865. Photo from Jacobkhed / Wikipedia

Writer explores the story of Chief Black Hawk, a leader of the Ute people in Utah:
Chief Black Hawk was a native son of the Great Basin, one who represented the first generation of Indians to grow up witnessing white settlement, the rampant spread of disease, increased impoverishment, escalating strife and the steady decline of Ute numbers and strength.

On the surface, Black Hawk’s most notable legacy is the Black Hawk War, Utah’s longest, fiercest and most tragic armed conflict. Closer examination, however, reveals a Ute leader who genuinely desired to preserve the dignity and ways of his people; a firebrand tempered in the wisdom of adversity, a leader whose heart was melded enough over time to shape a future that offered peace for both worlds and continued existence of his people.

Black Hawk, or Antonga as he was more commonly known before the war, was born in Utah Valley some years before the first company of Mormons rolled into the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847. The man identified Spring Lake as the place of his birth. A small but deeper body of water is still present there, set amid fields and orchards located between Payson and Santaquin. The picturesque place remained a favorite spot to him throughout his life.

Black Hawk was a blood relative of other famous Ute leaders including Wakara and Arapeen. While he grew to prominence in his tribe, Antonga Black Hawk seemed reticent to become too well acquainted with the white world. He was a native who preferred his own culture and apparently didn’t drift far from the fringes of that world.

Get the Story:
David Mackey: Black Hawk, Utah’s most notorious chief (The Provo Daily Herald 7/24)

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