For thousands of years our people occupied a vast area, stretching far across a great territory known as the Great Basin, there was no division and people were free to travel from village to village trading with each other and sharing what they had. Each village or family clan had their own headman, spiritual leader, and warriors. Several clans or family groups would band together for hunting or exploring as they chose and all were content with this way of life.
Historically we Timpanogos Indians were what is known as hunter gatherers. The men spent their time hunting meat and insuring the safety of the people. The woman and children gathered nuts seeds and roots and made clothing out of hides, furs, and the soft lining of the sage brush. Our people are written by some as "sun worshippers" as we gathered early and rejoiced with song as the first morning light appeared. This was not a worship of the sun but a reverence of the new day giving thanks to the Creator above for he had blessed us once again with the morning light.
The year was 1776 when the "big hats" entered the village. Fathers Dominguez and Escalante, were welcomed in and fed, places prepared for them to stay while the runners were sent to bring our leader Turunianchi to meet with them. Turunianchi was at a camp north of us meeting with the other headman of the large Nation which is known today as the Shoshone. He came at the morning light to speak with the "big hats", they smoked, they talked, the "big hats" spoke of their god, and, when they left, as is our custom he sent them with a gift. A painted deer hide depicting the headmen of the Tribe, there were crosses painted on each to indicate we too believed in a higher power.
We, as they, were people of prayer. It would be many years before we would once again be visited by a people wanting to share the concept of a higher power. We had met many people calling themselves trappers and traders, with them we would always barter, something our people knew as we had bartered and traded with each other as far back as can be spoken. These men came and went. Only a few would choose to stay and be part of the people. Our lives were untouched, the harmony and balance of being one with the earth remained intact.
Traditionally, every year the people of all the clans of Shoshone would gather together for the annual fish festival generally held at Utah Lake. This was a time of celebration. Dancing, singing, trading, horse races, gambling and feasting. The young men and woman could find a mate at this time from one of the other clans as we were all part of one large nation.
When the first trappers came into the area in the early 1800's they were generally welcomed. They learned our ways and some of them, like Jim Bridger, married into the people. The trappers brought with them metal traps much different than the basket traps our men used. They used these traps to harvest the beaver that were plentiful. The beaver in these times were much larger than they are today.
This harvesting gave birth to the trade companies being established by men like Jim Bridger and William Ashley. This brought change to our people as cloth blankets and different types of foods and beads were introduced. James Reed, a Kentucky Fur Trapper is attributed as bringing the first coffee to the area, he remained in the area and married Wy-ve-dah. William H Ashleys original journal records near Browns hole several thousand Indians had wintered during the past season, many of the lodges remained as perfect as when occupied. They were made of poles two or three inches in diameter, set up in circular form, and covered with cedar bark." He further records that the country East and a considerable distance north of these lakes, including the headwaters of the Rio Colorado of the west and down the same to Mary's rivers was claimed by the Shoshone Indians. Jedediah Smith understood the area to be Snake Country, claimed by the Shoshone Indians. W.T. Hamilton spent approximately sixty Years on the Plains, Trapping, Trading and Indian Fighting, he records the Utah Indians as all speaking the Shoshone tongue. The Trappers and traders within the area all record whom they were dealing with and whose lands they were on.
"The knowledge of our ancestors widens our horizons and gives us a broader view of life and its responsibilities. We remember that posterity may sit in judgment on us, and our times, and this thought should be an inspiration and incentive to higher and better things." - The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, vol. XI-1920
In 1847, the first Mormon pioneers entered the Wasatch. They were different than the trappers, they began building fences and scattering our people. They had no interest in learning our ways but wanted to change our people or eliminate them. Our nation was scattered, Brigham Young was made governor of the territory and appointed himself as the first Indian Agent.
When Brigham Young entered the area, he stated that the entire Wasatch was ruled by a "royal line" of brothers. These brothers are the Grandsons of Timpanogos headman Turunianchi and are recorded throughout the written histories of Utah territory. Walkara, one of the most famous was one of Brigham Young's greatest adversaries. He and his brother Arropeen were mostly recorded as riding side by side. Sowiette and Walkara are recorded as not seeing eye to eye when dealing with the issue of the Mormons. Sanpitch is found with Pocatello as they rode side by side on many occasions. Grospean (Grouse Pete) is pictured with the Lemhi, his picture hangs in the Ft. Hall Museum in Idaho. Ammon with the Paiute to the south. Chief Tabby being the youngest of the "royal line" led our people across the Wasatch to the Uinta Valley. These are some of the brothers as recorded in written histories, each one playing an important roll in Utah's history.
Utahs history records the "Mormon Militia" as being formed to "rid" the land of the "worthless savages." The Timpanogos way of life and our peaceful existence would be forever changed.
The following events took a once large powerful nation to remnant of its former self. From 1847 to 1865 the following atrocities occurred, Battle Creek Massacre, Ft. Utah, Goshen Valley Battle, Walkara War, Willow Creek, Gunnison Massacre, Allred Settlement, Tintic War, Mountain Meadows Massacre (Indians blamed), Bear River Massacre, Black Hawk War and many other atrocities that are not recorded. (See: The Black Hawk War: Utah's Forgotten Tragedy)
With the once large powerful nation fractured into smaller fragments Brigham Young would record these fragments as separate tribes and attribute the dissemination as conflicts between warring tribes. Brigham Young sent out the order for the daughters of the Chiefs to be taken into their homes to protect the Mormon families from attack. Jim Bridger had married into our people. His fort was burned to the ground by orders of Brigham Young as it was thought the trappers were protecting the Indians and supplying them with guns. James Reed and Jim Bridger were on the hill above the site of the Mountain Meadow massacre and watched as "those dressed as Indians", massacred families. This fact has been passed down through the generations.
Brigham Young, suggestion that the Uinta Valley be established as a reservation in 1851, only 4 years after his arrival to the Wasatch Valley, was ignored. Perhaps it was because he had said it was worthless lands only fit for "dogs and Indians" and "to hold the ends of the earth together."
Johnston's army fared no better as when they arrived in 1852, Brigham Young orders Lot Smith to burn his wagons and take all their supplies, horses and equipage. United States President James Buchanan issued a Proclamation, in 1858 against the activities of Brigham Young and his followers for sedition.
Ten Years after Brigham Youngs' request the Department of Interior through Caleb Smith would make the request again and on October 3, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln would establish the Uinta Valley Reservation with one simple line. "Let the Reservation be established as requested..."
Fort Douglas was established in 1862 by the United States to watch over the area as reports of unrest were sent to Washington. Colonel Conner would be convinced by men like Porter Rockwell that the Indians were to blame. Bounties were placed on the heads of several Chiefs, Bear Hunter, Sagawich, and Sanpitch, were especially sought and the Massacre of Bear River would nearly eliminate an entire village. Bear Hunter was killed, Sagawich was wounded and Sanpitch escaped. Wy-ve-dah survived this massacre but was wounded, she would never walk right again. Not only would she carry this scar but the scar of watching her mother, sister, brother, and all people of the village die. Colonel Conner would report that the "Utah Indians", would no longer be a problem.
May 5, 1864 Congress would ratify the Presidents order and establish the Uinta Valley for "exclusive use and occupancy of the Indians of Utah territory".
With the Uinta Valley Indian Reservation put in place by Abraham Lincoln treaty negotiations became necessary and several treaties were signed within Utah Territory. A once large nation would now be legally divided by the laws of the United States. The "royal line of brothers", as Brigham Young called them, would sign the various treaties. Sanpitch, Walkara, Tabby, etc. Only a few of the Treaties would pass ratification by Congress. The Treaty of Spanish Fork, listing the Timpanogos, failed ratification. When learning Brigham Young was involved with the treaty negotiations they "declared rather than associate with Brigham Young on such an occasion they would have the negotiations fail; they would rather the Indians, than the Mormons would have the land."
This Spanish Fork treaty is used by the Timpanogos Tribe to show whom the treaty commission met with and identified as the "Indians" intended for the Uinta Valley Reservation. Source: Commissioner of Indian Affairs Annual Report, 1865.
Our land is everything to us, I will tell you of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our Grandfathers paid for it-with their lives. - John wooden Legs, Cheyenne