Published on February 3, 2013 by Carol
The Ute nation rose episodically against the whites. Mormon settlers were relentlessly overtaking Ute lands and exhausting their resources and wildlife. Seeing that the Morman intrusion was getting worse, some of the Ute precipitated a series of forays on their settlements. This was called the Walker War (1853), which resulted in orders from President Abraham Lincoln to force them onto the Uintah Valley Reservation.
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The Ute Black Hawk* War (1865-1868) erupted on account of the disruption white encroachment inflicted on ecosystems on which Native American populations depended. Indians began to steal cattle from the settlers to stave off starvation. Hungry natives rallied around a young Ute firebrand, Black Hawk, who had been provoked into killing five Mormons, then escaped with hundreds of cattle. He galvanized members of Ute, Paiute and Navajo tribes into a loose alliance committed to pillaging Mormons across the region. After a protracted struggle that brought exhaustion to both sides, a peace treaty was signed in 1868.
In Colorado, the Meeker Massacre marked the final Ute outbreak (1879). Indian agent Nathan Meeker appeared on the Ute White River Reservation in 1878, resolved to transform the horse-loving resident Ute Indians from so-called “primitive savages” to hand-to-the-plow, pious farmers. Meeker ordered a Ute’s pony racetrack to be plowed – the final straw. The Indians retaliated. Meeker and the 10 men employed by the agency were rubbed out, the agency burned to the ground, and Meeker’s family captured and held hostage for two weeks. The cry, “The Utes must go,” was heard throughout Colorado. The tribe was forced to sign a treaty, then relocate to the Ouray reservation in Utah.