From These Silent Ashes: Mormons, Utes, & the Black Hawk War, 2009 (WIP Sample)

A work-in-progress sample that never received funding to continue, but the story is still there waiting to be told.

This 60-90-minute documentary for PBS will, for the first time, bring to light the little known history of the Ute warrior Noonch, better know as Black Hawk, who’s leadership, and in the eyes of some, whose failures still haunt today’s Ute people and their relationship with Utah’s Mormon population. Noonch’s legacy is a complicated web of devotion, bravery, leadership, and allegedly, betrayal. Given the name “Black Hawk” and coerced into leadership over his own people by Mormon leader Brigham Young, his life spanned the era from early Mormon incursions into Ute lands through the establishment of Ute and other tribal reservations and Utah statehood.

Historian John Alton Peterson describes Utah Ute Chief Black Hawk (Antonguer) as having… “Remarkable vision and capacity. Given the circumstances under which he operated, he put together an imposing war machine and masterminded a sophisticated strategy that suggest he had a keen grasp of the economic, political, and geographic contexts in which he operated. Comparable to Cochise, Sitting Bull and Geronimo, Black Hawk fostered an extraordinary pan regional movement that enabled him to operate in an enormous section of country and establish a three-front war. Black Hawk worked to establish a barrier to white expansion and actually succeeded in collapsing the line of Mormon settlement, causing scores of villages in over a half dozen counties to be abandoned. For almost a decade the tide of white expansion in Utah came to a dead stop and in most of the territory actually receded. Like Other defenders of Indian rights, though, Black Hawk found he could not hold his position, and his efforts eventually crumbled.”

This is the story of the other Black Hawk, his war with the Mormons, his defeat, his ultimate quest for peace, and his lasting legacy, which continues to have profound repercussions for both Mormons and the Native Americans of Utah.

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