|Vol. 2, No. 4 - December 2004
Joseph F. Buchanan
Archibald W. O. Buchanan was a friend of the Ute Indians and knew them well. What perhaps is not realized in our day is how much the lives of the pioneers were affected by the local native people. This article gives some background to the events and conditions of the time and outlines the significant part our ancestor played. Golden Buchanan gives a fairly complete account of this, but I have looked at some other references to give some added detail in this article.
When our pioneer ancestors were driven out of Nauvoo and the nation of the United States of America, they were led by the Lord to the land of the mountain west, then part of Mexico. More importantly, this land was also the land of the Indians, the Native Americans, the Lamanites, or more specifically the land of the Utes, Shoshonis, Pahvants, Goshutes, Piedes and Pahutes, all over the area where the Mormon Pioneers settled. Fortunately, the valley of the Great Salt Lake was sort of an Indian "no man's land" lying between the peoples of the Shoshonis in the North and the Utes of the South, so initially there was not much resistance to the Saints' settlements of the Salt Lake Valley. As the pioneers moved to other areas for settlement, especially in the South, they came to find the best land was also critical tribal lands of the Indians. Since the Indians were mostly nomadic, they did not set up "residences" or construct homes or communities in the sense that Europeans did, but freely roamed the lands, living in the mountains, canyons and valleys depending on the seasons and availability of food and natural shelter from the elements, though they did do some cultivation of crops. When the pioneers built homes and forts, they often happened to be in the areas where the Indians would come to fish or to live, especially in the more difficult times of the winter. For this and other reasons, there came conflict between the Mormon settlers and the Native Americans early on in the history of Utah.
The irony of the situation is that the Saints were fleeing persecution, seeking a place to live in freedom, but the clash of cultures with the Indians caused similar persecution the other way, either intentionally or unintentionally towards the native people. The immigrants also caused some of the problems with the Indians by their intolerance and hasty judgement. Brigham Young counselled the Saints often to treat the Indians with respect and kindness and to overlook some of the depredations suffered by the Saints at the hand of the Indians, encouraging them to appease the Indians at all cost.
Early on, our ancestor Archibald Waller Overton Buchanan was involved with the Indians and was their friend throughout his lifetime. He knew of their struggles and sympathized with them. He learned their language and was an interpreter for many years.
The Buchanan families settled in the Sanpete Valley, in Manti, in 1852. Because of the skirmishes with the Indians and the loss of stock, driven off by them, the Saints built a fort in Manti in 1854. Below is a map of the fort, indicating the lots where the Buchanan homes were located:
Note that the current address of the home where Archibald Buchanan had his home is 110 South 1st West. Main Street is where the main road runs through town (Highway 89) and the temple is situated north of this area at about 6th North, built 34 years later.
Because of the problems with the Indians and their needing land and fishing areas, the Saints set aside areas for the Indians near a number of Mormon communities, including Manti. These were called Indian Farms and they were where many Indians lived. These areas were in close enough proximity to the Saints' dwellings, that often there was interaction between the peoples, usually friendly, including the Saints bringing food, clothing, etc. to the Indians in their need and some of the Indians participating in the church services with the Saints, some being baptized into the Church.
Archibald, at the age of 25, was called with a group of 41 men to go to the Elk Mountain area (near present day Moab) on a mission to the Indians, to help educate and work with the natives there. The mission was a failure. Golden Buchanan records:
"Their diary indicates that when the Indians came to the Fort [at Elk Mountain] to talk with them they were told by the missionaries that they had come to be their friends. They had come to settle down and they wanted to plant crops and live among them.
"As soon as the Indians began to comprehend that this group of men were going to live there, they noticed there were no women among them, and so in order to be real friendly and to help this matter of integration they began to bring their young women, all painted and dressed in their best native costume, and were told that these young women were to become their wives and would live among them and raise families for them. It seems this was completely an unexpected move which the missionaries did not anticipate. After a hasty conference they refused to take the girls This was an insult not only to the girls but to the fathers of the girls and to the people in general. The pioneers were asked if these girls were not good enough for them. They had said they wanted to settle and live there and now they would not accept the choicest young ladies for their wives.
"The pioneer settlers tried to pacify the Indians, telling them that to become married and live there as settlers was not exactly what they had in mind. Thus, almost from the first there was frustration on both sides. From that time forward their journal records that the Indians became "saucy and impudent"."
Some lives were lost and the missionaries returned to Manti in September, though Archibald returned sometime before that since he was married to Helen Whiting in August of 1855.
Over the next years, Archibald continued to be involved with the local Indians and served them in a number of ways. Granddaughter Aletta Hackett Barlow reports:
"One day grandpa had been appointed by the government to distribute food and blankets to the Indians. He had a beautiful team of white horses and with them hooked to a wagon, he had pulled the load of food and blankets into the orchard and was proceeding with the distribution of government goods. Some Indian bucks, taking advantage of his preoccupation, made off with the team. The next day they returned with the horses and apologized deeply. It seems that grandpa's Indian friends saw the horses [and] immediately recognized who they belonged to, and the young bucks were ordered to return them immediately to grandpa."
There were times, though, when Archibald faced danger, but he knew what needed to be done to help keep the peace. Granddaughter Phyrn Ence Baker reports:
"Many times grandfather was sent as a messenger of peace to the Indians. On one occasion after an Indian raid on a white settlement, he went to the Indian camp at Shumway Springs to talk to Chief White Eye. He went into a large tepee and found the chieftains sitting in a circle holding a war council. He could see that they were very angry, so in a dynamic way he rushed in, pushed one warrior aside, and sat down beside the Chief. At first the Chief was sullen and would not talk, but grandfather talked to him, using kindness and persuasion and explaining how they had come to make peace. Finally the Chief accepted the message. The pipe of peace was lighted and they smoked it together. This, of course, averted much trouble for the settlers of that time."
Another instance of Archibald's bravery is also recorded by Phryn:
"Indians do not like cowards. They respect bravery. They feel justified, therefore, in killing anyone who is a coward, but they think it is an act of cowardice on their part to kill a brave man. Luckily, Grandfather knew this, and on one occasion on a mission among the Indians, he awoke one night to find a savage standing over him with a large knife in his hand ready to strike. Grandfather jumped to his feet, pulled his shirt open widely and said: "Now, coyote, kill me." Immediately the Indian dropped his knife and left the tepee saying, "Heap brave man. Me no kill.""
Unfortunately, it takes more than one man to keep the peace, and often many to start a war. The Utah Black Hawk war began early in 1865. There were a number of conditions that brought about the conflict, including a small-pox outbreak among the Indians that they blamed on the white man; the attempt by the Church to curtail the slave trade and cattle rustling which the Indians used to get gain in the markets of Santa Fe; and, generally the encroachments of the Saints in the lands that the Indians believed were open for their use. There is one event that by some was considered a flash point that caused the fighting to begin. Archibald and his friend, also an Indian interpreter, John Lowry, Jr. were in a particularly important meeting with prominent Ute chieftains on April 9, 1865. This was the Spring following the small-pox outbreak and after a difficult winter where the Indians stole many cattle and horses. The meeting was called to discuss the matter and try to come to a peaceful conclusion.
Archibald Walter Buchanan, son of Archibald, who was with his father at this meeting, stated:
"The Indians came down to this meeting to ask the whites to give them 10-12 head of beef cattle. The settlers had used the streams for irrigation purposes and the Indians felt this had ruined their fishing and consequently some of their food supply. They wanted cattle to kill and use for meat in place of the fish, and they thought the settlers owed it to them. My father acted as interpreter between them.
"Just as they had the matter about settled and were going to give the Indians these few cattle, a Mr. John Lowry stepped up and objected strongly to this. If he had not interfered, the matter would have been settled satisfactorily and could have saved hundreds of head of cattle that the Indians drove off after they had been denied what they wanted; to say nothing of the human lives that were lost as a result of the war. The Indians were denied their request, however, and my father, who understood their characters and traits very well, predicted, 'There will be a white man killed within the next 24 hours.' And true enough, several hours later a local blacksmith went outside Manti to a place called Six-Mile to get some coal. He was travelling alone and was attacked and killed by the Indians."
Another account, taken from "History of Indian Depredations in Utah" compiled by Peter Gottfredson, gives the following:
"On that date [Apr. 9, 1865] a number of prominent Utes came to Manti. They met at Jerome Kempton's place, and it appeared that an understanding would be arrived at, but a young chief (Yene-wood) also known as Jake Arropeen could not be pacified; he kept talking and making demonstrations, trying to persuade the other Indians against making peace. John Lowry and Archibald W. Buchanan were interpreters and leading spokesmen on the people's side.
"John Lowry, who was said to be under the influence of liquor, demanded of Chief Yene-woods (Jake Arropeen) that he should keep quiet and let him (Lowry) finish talking, when some one spoke, saying, "Look out, he is getting his arrows." Whereupon Lowry stepped up, caught hold of the Indian and pulled him off his horse, and he was about to abuse him in some way, when some of the bystanders interfered. Indian Joe mounted his horse and rode out to an Indian camp at Shumway Springs, where he reported what happened. This caused a big excitement among the Indians who sent out their runners to distant Indian camps with the information. In consequence the Indians generally broke camp and moved into the mountains. Those at Richfield went to Salina to join those from Sanpete." (from pages 129 and 130)
It is reported that years later, the Indians, including Black Hawk himself , denied that this event solely caused the beginning of the war, but it is interesting to see the involvement our ancestor had in the process. Gottfredson's record also corroborates the story mentioned above concerning Chief White Eye. As a result of the meeting with Chief White Eye, Golden Buchanan reports:
"Grandfather decided to go but felt they should report back to Manti and tell of their conversation with the chief. Accordingly, he and Cox went back to the pioneers in the Fort at Manti and reported. The leaders of the community felt that the Indians were treacherous and they would not allow Grandfather to pursue his project of peace. Grandfather always thought he could have prevented the war that followed, had he been allowed to go back to the Indians and talk with the "man who was mad"."
During these years, the Saints had to leave the Richfield area for safer places. Golden Buchanan records that later, after the war was essentially over, they moved back to the area, particularly our family to Glenwood, where he was chosen to be the Branch President. In an excerpt of a letter to Brigham Young, William Morrison writes (recorded in the Brigham Young Collection, LDS Church Archives):
"I am happy to inform you, that the Deserted Settlements of Sevier County are being re-established, and the numbers are increasing daily. The People have been busy grubbing, plowing and sowing for a few weeks. We find no eggs of Grasshoppers in this fertile field at Richfield, but abundance of Griswood and white Sage, more of it, than when first surveyed in 1865. ... Glenwood numbers over 20 families, and 40 or 50 men. They have selected Archibald Buchanan of Manti City, to lead out for the time being." (Letter of William Morrison to Brigham Young, dated Mar. 27, 1871)
Another letter is found in the Brigham Young Collection, written by Archibald concerning his stewardship in Glenwood:
Glenwood Sevier County Oct. 8th 1871.
President Brigham Young
Dear Brother, The people that came to resettle this place last spring made choice of Me to preside over this branche of the Church, whereupon I proceeded to organize a branch temporaraly that we might hold meetings and enjoy the blessings of the gospel. We have been blessed with a bountifull Harvest this season for which we feel to thank God. The people are desireous to pay their tithing and some have already payed which I have received on deposite. But as there are as yet but few of us to accomplish the many labors before us in the establishment of this settlement we would ask that the Tithings or a part thereof might be appro[pri]ated here for the completion of a school and meting house that was commenced here before the settlement was broke up some four and a half years ago and to give to the Indians as their demands on us are verry heavy, considering the poverty of the few that are here: The health of the people is good and they seem to enjoy the spirit of the gospel as General peace and good will exists in the Branch
Verry respectfully your Brother in the Gospel. Archabald W. Buchanan
[pencilled note: "let them have the labor tithing for this year"]
Also in reference to this time, Golden Buchanan records:
"During the summer of 1871 a special missionary conference was held at Prattsville. This conference was under the direction of Helaman Pratt who had come from Salt Lake to meet with the saints. At this conference Grandpa Archie was called as a special missionary to labor with the Indians. We have no record that he was ever released from this call. He was to spend his time teaching and helping the Indian people and to maintain peace whenever it was possible. [In] the remaining years of his life he was active in that calling."
As persecution from the Federal Marshals heated up concerning polygamy in his later years, Archibald was concerned with what he should do for the safety of his family. He received the offer from the Indians to provide him sanctuary, but he chose to take his wife Caroline and their children with him and move to Mexico for a time, where our Grandfather Archie Earl and his twin sister Carrie Myrl were born.
To me it is amazing what our ancestors went through to live the Gospel and teach their children and descendents. One of the great teachings of Archibald Waller Overton Buchanan is love for his fellow man, even those who may appear to many to be the enemy.