Laura Laurenson Byrne.

The federal Indian policy in Utah, 1848-1865 online

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Laura Lauren son Byrne
A.B. (bryn Ilawr College) 1912.


Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of


in the

of the

December, 1919.


Instructor in Charge

Deposited in the University Library,

Date Librarian



Introduction iv-v.

Chapter I. Utah and Its Indians 1-8.

The Country 1

The Indiana 4

Chapter II. Early Contact of the Utah Indians

with the White Race 9-16.

The Spaniards 9

The American Fur Traders 10

The Immigrants 14

The Mormons 14

The Mormon Indian Policy 15

Chapter ~TI. Early Relations of the Utah Indians

with the Mormons 17-33

The First Utah War 18

Mormon Defensive Policy 31



Chapter IV. The Federal Indian Policy at the

Time of the Acquisition of Utah . 33-39.

Fundanental Principles 33

The New Responsibility 3S

Chapter V. Federal Beginnings in Utah 30-43.

Needs of the New Region 30

Utah Becomes a Territory

The Establishment of the Utah Indian

Agencies 35

Indian Hostility to the Mormons . . . 38

The "Freemen" 39

The Mornona and United States Hostile 40

Chapter VI. The Development of Affairs in Utah

From 1351 to 1357 44-66

The Utah Act of 1853 46

The Walker War 49

The Gunnison Massacre 50

The Disposition of the Indians ... 53

Hindrances, Delays and Depredations 54
The Desire of the Indians for Agri-

c ultural Pursuits and Peace . . 60

A Lost Opportunity. 64


Chapter VII. United States and Mormon Hostility . 67-89.

The Land Title 67

Mormon Disloyalty 70

Federal Distrust 73

Inadequate Appropriations of Congresses
The Position of the Indians .... 84
The Mountain Meadow Massacre .... 84
Conclusion concerning the Utah War . 85

Chapter VIII. Reservations 89-111

Dr. Hurt's Efforts 89

The Efforts of the Indians 93

The Results of Cooperation 95

Deterrents to Progress 100

Inadequacy of Appropriations . . . .103

Mormon Appeals 104

Warfare Again 107

Treaties 108

The Uintah Reservation 108

Conclusion 112-116

Bibliography .... 117-121,



The government documents containing the official
reports concerning the Indians in Utah make the federal
policy towards these Indians appear conspicuous by its
absence. Indeed, the term policy seems a misnomer,
for frequent and repeated appeals to Congress for aid
and attention give evidence of continued inactivity on
the part of the government. Instance after instance of
the need and misery of the Indians, and of their conflict
with a constantly encroaching white population brought
no effective response from Congress. From the outset
the reports show an Indian problem characterized by coat-
plications due to the California and Oregon immigration,
and to the Mormon settlement , But , absorbed appaxently
in other and more pressing affairs, the distant Congress
seems to have adopted a laissez-faire policy in the case
of Utah, if let-alone tactics may be termed a policy.

Before examining the instances that give weight
to this conclusion, an account of Utah and its Indians
will aid in an understanding of the various conditions

that created a special problem for the government of
this Territory. Then, in detailing at length the
history of the Utah Indiana, this thesis will endeavor
to account for the federal policy In Utah and briefly
to relate it to government policy toward Indiana in
general .

Chapter I.


Country.., The most conspicious geographical
features of Utah are its great altitude, extensive deeert
area, snow-capped mountains and fertile river valleys.
The following description of Utah by a writer in 1S55
gives a vivid idea of this home of the Indians:

The Great Basin, about five hundred miles
in diameter, lies more than four thousand feet
above sea level , between the Wasatoh and Nevada
Mountains. It bears the character of a desert.
The only fertile districts to be found are at the
base of the mount a 1m which rise to a height of
about three thousand feet . In the centre of the
basin there is no water. In the vicinity of the
Salt Lake the country is level rising imperceptibly
to the north and west until it reaches the mountains
The soil here is sandy and cannot be employed for
agricultural purposes. To the north there is only

a narrow atrip of arable land between the Lake and the
mountains. To the east things are rather better. To
the south are t^o lovely valleys of the Jordan and the
Tuilla, well watered and covered with rich grass. When
it rains in the valleys, anow frequently lies in the
ravines to the depth of a hundred feet. The pasture
land in the valley bottoms is adapted to agriculture.
Potatoes ... and turnips flourish. If we assume that
the acre of ploughed land will yield two thousand Bounds
of wheat flour, each square mile will support about
four thousand persons, deducting one half for pasturage,
and thus covering tho demand for meat. The territory ..
can support a million souls.

"In central Utah there are three salt lakes, the
largest of which is so strongly impregnated with
salt that persona bathing in its waters only sink
in to their shoulders. ... At various spots springs
of different temperature are found close together,
some hot, sone cold, some saline - others sulpuric
or containing iron, while others are good for
drink ing. "

"The mountains and valleys are thronged with
game bears, panthers, antelopes, stags, hares.
Trout and pike are in the rivers. In the pzier
beds of the salt marshes are duoks and geeee; on
the islands of the lakes are pelicans, herons, mews
and cranes. There is a great deficiency of wood.
In the plain, the cotton-wood is the sole representa
tive of the vegetable world. In the mountains are
small forests of firs, cedars, dwarf maples and oaks.
The more open districts are exposed to the fires
lighted by the Indians to kill and roast the grass
hoppers which they collect in summer and which they
devour in winter. ... The atmosphere in the valley is
extremely healthy ... In summer the mirage is fre
quently seen in the desert . "

Abundant game and fish, combined with the long, cold
winters, tended to make the Indian inhabitants nomadic,
and dependent on hunting for subsistence.

Living Age, Vol.X, 2" Series,
"The Mormons in Utah," pp. 530-531.




f int talted T

Vtet, Italia* mat lira

; Tcnta;


The Bhoshones are described as below medium
j the Utahs, aa more powerfully built but

raer featured and lesa agile. Their houses were
primitive, often made of brush, semi-circular , and roof
less. Some t a cave was their residence. The Snakes
made better shift by forming a conical tent out of skins
atretohed on long poles. Both tribes were remarkably
dirty in dwelling and habits. The Snakes dressed better
than the Utahs, using skins of large' animals , ornamented
with head , shells , fringes and feathers , and since
acquaintance with the whites, with piecea of brilliant
colored cloth. Buckskin shirt, loggias and moccasins

common costume, over which wne thrown a he
robe of fur, buffalo, wolf, deer, elk or beaver. In

t of their clothing w;* 9 discarded.
They were versed in the art of pottery, Ar;ricul-
-cur was not developed j in the less fertile parts of
Utah, the tribes were sometimes reduced to root- eat ing,
to pine nuts, reptiles and insects. To avoid starvation

they have been known to eat dead bodies and even to kill

their children for food. As a rule they had no boats;

Bancroft, Hubert Howe, Native Races, I, p.

they Grossed the rivero by fording, swlrr-rdng or ocn~
struct ing a clumsy raft. Horses constituted their
wealth; these dried fish, akine or furs were used in
barter. They were very deliberate trader. They had
their games and trials of strength and skill. They
were especially skillful in riding; a hcrae-hair lariat
served as a bridle; only older people used saddle like
those of the white men. Gambling and drinking wore
frequent. They ha.d no Intoxicants themselves but enjoyed
the white man f flre-wator whenever available. The tma-
tom of ratifying a peace treaty by a grand awoke common
to many of the North American Indian , wae observed by
these tribes.

The toola of these Indians before iron and steel
wert introduced by the whites, were of flint, bone or
horn, from which knives and wedge~shaped hatchets wore
made, and used to fell tree. They made water-proof
baskets of hide and is.

Their weapons were the bow and arrc ; v 'o weee
uaed in fishing, and cluba were the general tool and
weapon of the poorer tribes. Shields posQessing esp *o4al
virtue from the medicine men were valuable articles

of the Snakes 1 equipment. Only one instance it
recorded of a Utah having a shield. The tribes that
had horses always fought mounted. Warfare was, of
course , extremely cruel , accompanied by torture , scalp
ing , and killing of prisoners.

The chief's power was limited, being merely advisory;
no fixed laws to punish murder or other offences. Tfee
Utahs did not hesitate to sell wives and children into
slavery. iy were sold to Navahoes for blankets.
Polygamy, though common, was not universal. To the
women fell the hardest work; as is usual among nomadic
Indians, the old and infirm were abandoned at pleasure.

Reports differ concerning the general character
of the Snakes and Utahs. The better Shoshone tribes
are described as brave and cunning, fierce and war-like,
as dishonest and treacherous , and again as peaceful and
industrious. The Utahs are described as brave and
fierce, industrious and crafty; the Pah-^tes in partic
ular, as docile, kind and unwarlike. The Bannocks
were considered treacherous and dangerous; the poorer
Shoshones , ignorant and degraded, subsist iig on grasa
and insects in the spring, after a winter spent in
semi- torpor in holes in the ground.

But they were lovero of their country, even the
inhospitable ruta and barren plains and have been known
to pine away and die when forced to remain in oivili
tion among the whites.

So much for a general description of the Indians
of Utah, More intimate acquaintance with them develops
in the government reports as we shall see from time to

Meanwhile , for a more thorough understanding of
the region which the United States took over from Mex
ico in l&g , a resume of the previous contact between
the Indians and the white race will not be out of place.

Chapter II.

The Spaniards,,, The earliest recorded visit of
white men to what is now Utah was in connection with
the expedition of the great Spanish explorer. Coronado,
when in search of the fabled rich Seven Cities of Ci'bola.
In 1541 Coronado sent a party under Captain GsTrcia Lopez
de Cardenas along the Colorado river where it flows
through southern Utah and Arizona. Cardenas entered only
the extreme southern portion of Utah and the Indians met
there have been identified with the Cocopa, a Yuman tribe.

whose descendants still inhhbit the lower Colorado out-

side the limits of Utah.

The next white visitor *in Spaniards, were in
1776 > the two Franciscan friars , Ve'lez Escal&nta and
Francisco Dcninguez. Searching for a direct route from
Santa Fe' to i'onterey, Alta California, they made their
w-?y north Z.Q f?.r as Utah Lake. They found no town
buildings like V uls and %unis , but wild Indians who
at first were afraid, but when assured of the friendliness


Spanish Explorations in the Southern United states,
15^3, PP. 133 et. 8 ,


of t re, welcomed them kindly and gave them

food. They were aim - inded and inof f enaive t these
've Yutaa, ready to uide the travellers whitherso
ever they would go ; they begged the fathers to return
and establish a mission in their midst.

'"inter coming, provioions low, and no news o:

route to the aea being obtained frorr the savages, the

explorers turned southwest and east, baefc to S?nta F.

considered too remote for a mission,

The ;tween 3 , the Colorado River,

ci Hew Mexico , needed yet to be explored. 3o
Utah r; Curbed and the Indiana untouched by

the romance and the civilisation of the early missions.
%foe Ar rloajR Fur Tp>dcya. t'ith the coming of the
JUnerioan fur traders to the west , the Red Men of Utah

re of foreignars. In the

beaver country of the Utahs, four trading poata were
established. They v.ere Fort Brit obidoux's two

post on the Uin rivers, and Fort Davy

Crockett in Brownt Hole, One of the earliest notices

f t , ' , . History of Utah, p. . -10,


;N The Foundir nish California, p. 399


of the Bannocks is the pursuit of one of their bands
in 182^ by a p n rty under James Bridger for the purpose
of retaking some horses they had stolen. It was the
adventurous fur-traders of the west who gave their
names to Sweetwater River, Independence Rock, Jaoksons
Hole , and to the tributaries of Green River and Great
Salt Lake. They discovered this lake and also South
Pass. They were the first to travel from Great Salt

Lake southwesterly to Southern California, the first

to cross the Sierras and the deserts of Utah and Nevada.

Of Captain Bonneville the French trader and ex
plorer in the United States Army, whose activities wece
largely in Utah, the historian Chittenden says, in con
tradiction to Bancroft, that

"if there is one characteristic of the expedition
more prominent than another it was the humane

treatment which Captain Bonne vi lit always accorded

the natives.

Speaking of the effect of the American fur traders upnn
the Indians in general, Chittender says further:


Chittenden, H.M. , The History of the American Fur
Trrder, vol. I, ^-33.
Ibid., (Preface, vol.1, p.X)


"It is difficult to estimate the degree to which
the fur trade was controlled by the Indiana, while
far reaching counter- influence upon the tribes
cannot, at this remote time, be adequately realized.
The relation of the trader to the Indian was the most
natural and congenial of any which the two races have
ever sustained toward each other. Properly con
ducted it fitted perfectly with the Indians 1 previ
ous mode of life, really promoted hia happinee
and gave him no cause for complaint. It enabled
him to pursue his natural occupation of hunting,
while it introduced just enough of the civilized
customs of exchange to furnish him with those
simpler articles which directly promoted the com
fort of hie daily life."

he fur trade did not always furnish

ideal relations between white and Indians wven Utah gave
evidence. Though the fur trade is not closely related
to the Inc.iar. problem there , its results are seen in

ttitude of the Indians toward subsequent explorers
Colonel Fremont who passed Fort Uintah in June 13*{4 on
his second exploration recorded that the fort was at-
; :ed shortly afterward by the Utah Indians, and all
its garrison IDHB. except Robidoux who happened


to be absent. This la the only Instance of a

ful attack by the Indiana upon a trading post of the

Fremont deacribea the Indiana of Utah ae wild men*
but for all th-^t rather aophiatioated, though the coun
try was atill largely unknown to the white man. He met
the Utah chief, Walker, and hia band all well mounted
and carrying riflee. They vrere robbera of a high order,
conducting their depredations upon immigration under the
color of trade and toll for paeaing through their country,
They did not attack and kill , they affected to purchase

taking the horaea they liked and giving something nominal


in return. Describing the Utah Indiana further, Fremont


n From all that I h ?& and aaw, I ahould oay
that humanity appeared there in its lowest form
and in the moat elementary ^tatife.* Dispersed in
single families , without fire-irma, eating aeeds
and insecta, diggixg roots - auch ie the condition

Fremont, John C., Memoir* of My Life, p. 39 5

Chittenden, vol. Ill . p. 971.

Fremont, J.C* , Hemoira of My Life, p.
Ibid, , p,

807? *

of the greater part ~ other* are a degres higher,
and live In communities upon some lake or river

that supplied fish, and from which they repulse

the miserable Digger.*

Fremont further records friendly relation* with
the Utah Indiana and contrasts tha comparative security
in which he traveled through their country with the
guarded vigilanice necessary among the Sioux and other
Indians east of the Rookies,

The Immigrants. Following the era of the fur
traders came that of the immigrants. The earlier
immigrants to Oregon &<* California, those of 1$*1 ,f or
the most port passed through leaving no mark. They
cams "by the usual route up the Platte, along ths Street-
water and through South Pass to Bear River Valley. When
near Soda Springs those for Oregon went north to Fort
Hall thile those for California followed Bear River south
ward until within ten miles of Great Salt Lake when tkey

turned weat -rd to find Ogden River,

The IfoTrnonj?* Hot till the Mormon immigration be
ginning in 1^7, did the Utah Indians know any permanent


Fretnont , John Charles , Reports of the Exploring
Expedition to the Ricky Mountains in the year
Washington, Blair & Rives, printers, 12&5 P

Bancroft, Utah -pp. 2S-29.

contact with the white race. Unlike all previous in
truders, the Mormons came to settle. Fleeing the per
secution that had attended them in the civilized United
States, because of their peculiar religion, under the
leadership of Brighani Young, their president they ohoee
an uncharter^d, almost unknown region beyond the author*
ity of the United States where they could break ground,
and build up their own political and religious institu
tions for themselves. On July 2*rth , the first settle*

ment was made in/v Valley of Great Salt Lake. Fortune tsly

they settled on the war grounds of the Snakes and UtaJas ,
that is, on neutral ground, and so they were not resisted.

The Mormon Indian Policy. The Indian policy of
the founders of Utah is summed up in a remark made by

Brigham Young, "It is cheaper to feed the Indians than

to fight them." Hence, their intercourse was generally

peaceable. They taught them how to till their lands;
they assured them that they would suffer no wrong, but
they also told them if they inflicted wrong, punishment
would follow/


Littell, Living Age -1^55, p. 531.

Whitney, Orson F. , Popular History of Utah, p. 97*

Bancroft, H.H. , History of Utah, p. 4-72.

By the time that Utah, at 111 unmapped came under
the mithority of the Halted States, along with California,
New Mexico and all the vaot western territory at the
oloae of the Mexican War, in l$fg, the Mormon population
in the Valley of Great Salt Lake numbered fire thousand.
Thue, the contact of the Indiana of Utah with the Mor-
3 forma an important chapter in the history of the
federal Indian policy in tJ

Bancroft, H.H. , History of Utah, p.


Chapter III.

Spreading north and south , the Mormons aoon began
to enoroaoh on lands which the Indiana uood for fishing

and hunting. The Shoshonos threatened an attack, but

made none, Hot 00 the Utee, In April oojne the first

reports of host ill ties,Vasques and Bridgor, traders of

the American Pur Company, who for five years had been


proprietors of Fort Bridger, wrote Young that the Utes
were badly disposed toward Americans, and that chiefs
Elk and Walker were urging the Utes to attack the settle
ments in Utah Valley, The brethren were advised to
protect themselves but if the Indians were friendly to
teach them to raise grain and *order them to quit steal


Littell, Living Age, p. 530.

House Executive Documents, J2 Cong., 1 Soss. , vol.
2, pt. 3, p. 1002 (6J6)

Bancroft, Hubert Kowe, History of Utah, p. 309.


In June 1S^ , Chief Walker and twelve of his trie
tribe of San Pete Valley , where the Mormons were set-
ling, declared themselves friendly and asked to have
their people taught how to build and . T71thin
six moons 1 will send you a company , ald Brlghaa
Young, who conferred with them at Salt Lake City.

The,.. J* Jrff ,e. t r ,. tit ah. Wr-.r . But in the autumn of 184$ ,
the Indians commenced all sorts of annoyances; shot
several head of cattle belonging to the Mormon j broke
into isolated farm houses, terrifying women and children.
One Indian being killed while in the act of pilfering,
open hostility followed. Fort TT t^h *7i 1 i bean
erected for the purpose of intimidating the Indians, the relugro of the colonists. T..i0re they were
attacked by. the Indians, -md -after a three day skirmish,
the Indiana '^er driven from their entrenchments with
rifle and cannon, The llorisona had only one man
killed and several wounded. The Indians loot a great
number, ae measles had broken out among them, weakening
their power of resistance* Some who had retreated to

Bancroft, Hubert Howe , History of Ut&h, p.

Table Mountain were persuaded to coise down and surren
der. ; DMK ordered to lay down their arms, they re
fused and were fired on by the Mormons and nearly all
were killed. The remainder who tried to escape were
pursued and cut down to a man.

On January Jlst, 1^0, Isaac Eiqbee ol Fort Utah
reported at Salt Lake that the Utah Valley Indians had
stoles 50 or &) head of cattle and horses, threatening
further depredations, and asking permission to chastise
th which was granted A military expedition set out

against them and in a few days routed the Indians from


Utah Valley , shooting all they could find. A large
number of prisoners wore taken, mostly women and
children* They were placed in tents undor Fort Utah
until they could be dispersed among the families in the
valle . -t this attempt to civilize them was a failure

for as soon as suwaer ocune they fled to their mountain
tales. "Thus ended the first Indian War of Utah," says

LitteU, Living Age, p. 532.

>rt Hows, History of Utah, pp.

Stacsbur, Heport , ... l& , ff.

Bancroft . *wMoh lilr.e a?l the others ims a rather to,rc
affair, Tt w r ?5 the m* aaion of the Iferrsone to convert

the Indians , who were their brethren and not to kill

It la of Interest to notice more in detail this
Utah war of 1#>0. We hsve an inkling of the complications
arising among Indiana, Mormons snd the federal authorities,
in the acoottnt given by Captain Howard Stsnsbury of the
United States Army Topo^apWlo^l Fn^iceere, who apent tke
winter of ?,>! 9-1 $50 among the Indians.
He T/ritea in hie official report:-
The president (Young) was extremely averse to harah
treatment , but , after several conciliatory overturee
had been reacrted to in va,in, ha very properly dets iv
mined to put a stop by force. Before coming to this
decision the authorities called upon me to consult s
to the policy of t!ie measure > r .md to request the s-
V preasion of jay opinion aa to v;hat might bo the visw
of the United Stataa government. TIncwing as I did
moat of the circumstance a , and feeling convinced th&t
aouie action of the kind would ultinatoly have to be
resorted to, .... I did not hesit?.t& to say that ....
the expedition waa a measure not only of good policy,
but one of abaolute necessity and self -pre as rrat ion.

9 leader of t crafty

/ho h~d been already guilty

of several murder a > ?penly threatened he

would kill every white nan ho found alone upon the
pralrloa. In addition to this I vrsa sonvincad that
the completion of the yet unfinished survey of the

;y , wist ctheTwi&o be at tend ad with rjoriotia
diff iotilty , ^m<l \tould involve the necesoity c
1 -;.rgely increaoed and armed eeoort fox It fc proteo-

Lieutenant Howlend f Stitnebury 1 ^ oonacnnd with aid in the
way of arms, aatmmition, t^rite, and oamp
panted the itoxfeon forca of one hxmdr^d

Hpjrmon PefensiTe. Pol.i< Bel. '

ther in the r > of events, legislative evic

defenite $ of a defensive

;-v-rt O r ' ' 'Oil gO- tO be


gth, It^O, prohibited
the eal^ without a license c; , aimtmition, or

, et


ry , lets, [email protected]@olution5 and Ifemorialtt .1^55 *
P. 63.

spiritoue liquors to the Indiana, and declared a penalty
of a fine not exceeding $500 for such offenee and also

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