In July of 1853, Chief Wakara's band of Utes clashed in a series of violent confrontations with the Mormon settlers. This conflict is known as the Walker War. Many complex factors contributed to this war. After some earlier violence between Mormons and different bands of Utes between 1847 and 1851, the Mormons continued their quick expansion settling on Ute lands. From 1851 to 1853 Mormon and Ute relations continued to decline as Mormons expanded their settlements occupying Ute hunting grounds. In addition to these land encroachments, new laws were enacted regulating trade between the Spanish and Utes by Brigham Young. The most notable regulation on trade prohibited the Spanish and Ute slave trade. All these trade regulations hurt the Ute economy, particularly the most powerful equestrian Ute band, the Cheverets led by Chief Wakara. In the spring of 1853 Governor Brigham Young ordered out the state militia to arrest Mexican traders and to capture Wakara for engaging in the slave trade. Wakara had previously established a friendly relationship with Young and had invited the Mormons to settle his lands in Sanpete. Wakara had become committed to peaceful relations and cooperation with Young and the Mormon people. Wakara remained true to his desire for friendly relations even after seeing his economic status undermined by Mormon settlers. Young as well was committed to staying on peaceful terms with the Utes. Their followers, on the other hand, had difficulties overcoming the cultural divide. After the murder of a member of Wakara's band in July of 1853 by settler James Ivie, Wakara's band waged a series of raids against Mormon settlements. Wakara himself, however, was not involved in the war and continually tried to sue for peace. The war has been mislabeled with Wakara's name; he was not really involved in the violence. Yet it was indeed a war. The war had a great impact on the Mormon settlers. Settlers abandoned their homes and had to move into forts. For the Mormons involved, this conflict was neither small nor inconsequential; it was a major disruption involving a great portion of the Utah Territory.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wimmer, Ryan Elwood, "The Walker War Reconsidered" (2010). Theses and Dissertations. 2461.
Walker War, Wakara, Mormon/Indian relations, Brigham Young, Utes, Mormons, Cheverets, Wakara's band, 1853, Utah Militia, Manti, Provo, forts, James Ivie