Brigham Young provides account of Indian difficulties.

May 7, 1853
Speech / Court Transcript
Brigham Young
Scribed Verbatim

Brigham Young, Speech, May 8, 1853, transc. George Watt, Historian's Office Record of Speeches, Church History Library

George D. Watt
Brigham Young, Dimick B. Huntington, Amasa Mason Lyman, Isaac Morley, Charles C. Rich
Latter-day Saints

I do not <profess to be> extensively versed in historical lore, still I expect to be able to relate a small portion of my own history to you this morning, referring especially to the latter part of my life, say for three weeks past. It <is> known by you all, that I started from this place with the intention of journeying south to the extent of our southern settlements, but I have returned short of performing that journey. I will state the reasons why, that the minds of the people may be at rest, and freed from anxiety. We went to the city of Provo, in Utah Valley; where I had some business to attend <to>. We tarried there a short time before proceeding on our journey, the principal items of which I wish to lay before the brethren, in connection with some circumstances that had transpired previous to our leaving this place. These circumstances combined together, caused a suspicious feeling in my own heart. I have endeavored all my life to follow one portion of the instructions of the Savior to his disciples, that is, to “watch.” I am a very watchful man. Previous to my starting from this city, there was an express sent from Iron county, that Indian Walker manifested hostile feelings; [suffice it to say] for it seems he had drawn out his men on a small portion of our brethren, and commanded them to return home, when they were in pursuit of [feed for their animals] supposed thieves; these Indians would not suffer them to proceed any further. This circumstance, small as it might appear to some, caused suspicion in my mind that all was not right with the Indian chief, though I expected to visit him on my journey. After tarrying at the city of Provo a day and a night, I was accosted in a very abrupt manner by a stranger, a person that I knew nothing of, and had never seen before. I have learned since <that> he is an American from the State of New York, and has been living in New Mexico some years. This person came to my carriage, while I was standing upon the steps of it, arranging my luggage, preparatory to proceeding onward, and said [and said] in a rough, authoritative tone, “Is Governor Young in this carriage?” “No, sir,” I said, “but he is on the steps of it. What is wanting?” I turned round to see who addressed me, and saw this stranger, dressed in buck-skin, pretty well smoked. He said, “I have a little privacy with you.” <Said stepping aside, far enough not to be heard by any other person>, I said, “Say on, sir.” “But I want to see you in private,” he [illeg. strikethrough] <replied>. I said, “I have no privacy with strangers; if you have any communication to make to me, you can do it by letter.” He walked, and left me. That was all that passed between us. As soon as he intimated that he wanted a private conference with me, I scanned the man, and saw that his pockets were filled with deadly weapons, and of his intentions I had my own thoughts. I went about my business, but in the meantime sent a man to reconnoitre him, to whom he made some haughty expression about Governor Young. Said he, “Governor Young need not feel so damned important, I [have] associate with Governors [before] when I am at home, and [could produce] have money enough to buy Governor Young and all his wives.” [He was not permitted to remain longer in the house of the brother where he was staying, and as he left] He further said, “I have four hundred Mexicans [close by] <waiting my [command] orders>, and can have as many more if I wish, besides, the Indians here are all at my command.” I soon learned to my satisfaction, that he had come into the Territory to buy Indian children, and sell them again for slaves. Therefore I issued the Proclamation which you have no doubt read in the pages of the News, gave orders to the Lieutenant General, and he has done what he has. We proceeded on our journey, and found that this man had been trading with the Indians. He said, “He asked no odds of the authorities of this Territory, but calculated to buy all the Indian children <he could>.” He was told it was against the law. He replied, “Catching is before hanging.” <When I arrived at San Pete,> [I had not proceeded far before] I learned that one hundred and fifty Yampa Utes [who had been encamped on the] west fork of the Sevier River, had come over to Walker's camp. I did not believe that [he] <this Mexican trader> had four hundred Mexicans lying on the head waters of the Sevier, for I did not think that men would patiently wait in the snow and frost [waiting] for [such a man looking scape grace] a man of his appearance. Instead of Mexicans, they turned out to be those Yampa Utes. I sent out a reconnoitering party [a band of men] consisting of thirty men, to learn their intentions, if possible; also the <whereabouts of> Bro. D. B. Huntington, <of who had gone previous,> but I have not heard from them, nor him, since they left us at Salt Creek, about a week ago last Tuesday morning. Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich proceeded on their journey, and omitted calling at San Pete. I went to San Pete to learn the <situation and> proceedings of the Indians. Arapeen, it appeared from some cause, had been <dissatisfied,> [been insulted] [so he had] and had left. Before he left, he gave them to understand that he desired peace, and wanted to live in peace. <However,> I was [however]prepared for whites, reds, or blacks, by night and by day, and always intend to be. This is [the] <a short> account of [our short] <my> journey. I wished to lay it before you as it was, in consequence of the different statements which have been made, <that> vary <considerably> from the truth, after passing through a few hands. After relating the simple facts as they existed, <you [people] may> [they can there] regard them as you please; but when you tell them over again to your neighbors, tell them as they were, or not at all. I have heard a great many different stories since I came home, and find <the minds of the> people very much agitated about the probable result of the hostilities of the Indians, and the [appearence] <presence> of the Mexicans among them. I will tell you the reason why I returned home [home] before accomplishing the remainder of <my contemplated> journey—it was because I wished to return. You may inquire why I wished to return. I will tell you. I am a great coward myself, I do not wish to rush into danger imprudently. If there should happen to be any trouble with Indians, and I away from this place, there would be more trouble here than <with me> [where I <should be> should was]. Of this I was fully aware, and it was proved to my satisfaction when I returned home. <that> they shall, if watching, and praying, and being [illeg] for them will prevent it. I have always acknowledged myself a coward, and hope I always [shall] <may> [enough] be, to make me cautious enough to preserve myself and my brethren from falling ignobly by a band of Indians. I am satisfied that the men who follow Walker, who is the king of <the Indians in> these mountains, do it out of fear, and not because they have <real> regard for their [man] leader. If he becomes hostile, and wishes to commit depredations upon the persons or property of this people, he shall be wiped out of existence, and every man that will follow him. This is my calculation, and I wish you to be ready for it. Yesterday morning, <we> received a [letter] <communication> from father Morley, in which <we were> [I am] informed that Walker and Arapeen came down to pay him a visit. The morning that we left San Pete, we sent back by the hands of Arapeen's two messengers, some little presents in the shape of shirts and tobacco. Walker said to Father Morley, “Tell brother Brigham, we have smoked the tobacco he sent us in the pipe of peace; I want to be at peace, and be a brother to him.” That is all right. But it is [truly characteristic] <the character> of the cunning Indian, when he finds he cannot get advantage over his enemy, to curl down at once, and say “I love you.” It is enough for me to know <that> Walker dare not <attempt to> hurt any of our settlements. I care not whether they love me or not. I am resolved, however, not to trust his love any more than I would a stranger's. I do not repose confidence in persons, only as they prove themselves confidential; and I shall live a long while before I can believe that an Indian is my friend, when it would be to his advantage to be my enemy.

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