Black Hawk War (1865–1872) - Outcomes

Outcomes

Utah's Black Hawk War had far-reaching and unforeseen outcomes for Mormons and Utes alike. After 1872 Mormons in Utah were able to expand settlements as immigrants swelled valley populations without the threat of Ute resistance. The chasing of Ute raiders through unexplored regions of Utah actually helped explore areas for new settlements as outliers of the larger towns. Ranchers were free to take up land far from population centers without fear of being attacked. Mormons came to accept the army as a force that could do its job without threatening local autonomy. Communities became more independent as they realized that local decisions were often better tailored to suit local conditions than requesting advice from Salt Lake. Mormons were less able to control the functions of government as federal officials began their long crusade to end polygamy and Mormon control of government and the economy.

Black Hawk's War was a disaster for the Northern Utes. They were forced permanently onto the Uintah Reservation to live dependent on corrupt government agents. No promises made in any treaty were fulfilled completely. Terms of treaties which restricted the Utes were rigidly enforced, but promises in the treaty which territorial officials and Mormon leaders put their names to were largely ignored. Intra-tribal divisions arose which persisted to modern times. The Ute were forced to give up their traditional way of life and left to fend for themselves in one of the least habitable parts of Utah. Disease, living conditions, hopelessness, alcoholism, and poverty reduced Ute populations drastically. While it is difficult to estimate moving populations, Dimick Huntington, an interpreter for the territorial government, estimated that there were perhaps 23,000 Native Americans in Utah in 1865. In 1872 he estimated the number at 10,000. While these numbers seem exaggerated to modern historians, it indicates that the period took a terrible toll on the Utes. Not everyone in those estimates died, many simply moved out of the territory, but the number of deaths by disease, starvation, and the war was catastrophic for Northern Utes. Ute population continued the steep decline, so that as of this writing (2008) there are 3,120 Northern Utes enrolled, up from 2500 in 1980.

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