First Men in Sanpete - Evan NelsonIN 1849, AT CHIEF WAKARA’S INVITATION, President Brigham Young sent about 225 Mormon pioneers to settle in the Sanpete valley. Initially, relations between the Mormon settlers and the local Ute Indians were helpful and cooperative, but tensions soon arose between the two groups.

Cultural clashes between the Mormon settlers and the Ute Indians eventually led to open warfare. Over the next twenty years, both Mormon settlers and Native Americans would lose their lives in violent skirmishes.

Even during these difficult years, the following personal stories tell of a desire to live together in peace.


making-a-new-home2-captionPeter Munk of Manti had a productive farm near a Native American encampment. At the beginning of the workweek, he would travel to his farm in an ox-pulled wagon. After completing his work each day, Peter would tie the oxen to the back of his wagon, giving the team access to the loaded hay. Peter would then carefully tuck away any of his leftover lunch in the wagon and return home by foot.

Many mornings, when Peter returned to his team, he noticed that the hay in the wagon looked flattened, almost as if someone had been lying there. Some mornings, his leftover lunch would be gone. Arriving early one morning, Peter discovered the Indian Chief, Aropeen, lying asleep in the wagon on the hay. Peter quietly went about his business, and the Chief disappeared up the hill after he awoke.

Later, when Peter was building a fence around the farm, he ran out of oak pieces. He knew he would not be able to complete the fence without the essential lumber. Peter was worried about the fence until he saw three Native American women coming down the hill. Each woman was carrying a load of oak—a gift from Chief Aropeen. No words were ever spoken, but it was clear that trust and understanding existed between Peter Munk and Chief Aropeen.

~ Story preserved by the family of Tom Anderson, great grandson of Peter Munk



making-a-new-home3Bothilda Hansen worked as a house servant when she was 15 years old. One day she was working alone, cleaning the home, hanging the coats on hooks, and organizing the clutter left behind by the family that employed her. Just as Bothilda began to sweep the floor, a long shadow fell across the room, abruptly interrupting her thoughts. Bothilda looked up and discovered a large Indian standing in the doorway. His huge size filled the room as the frightened young woman stood staring at him.

Although she was alone and could not understand what the man was saying, Bothilda did not panic. The Indian’s tone was gentle. Bothilda looked at the bucket in his hand and determined that the man wanted milk. She carefully led him across the spacious yard to the cellar where the milk was kept cool. She descended the stairs to the cellar, removed the morning’s milk from the shelf, and with a large ladle, she poured the milk into the man’s bucket. The Indian drew the milk to his lips, tasted it, and then gave it back to her. Bothilda did not know what to do. She went again to the morning milk. Thick cream sat on top of the milk pan. This time, she poured the cream into the Indian’s pail. He tasted the cream and poured it back into Bothilda’s pan. She stood limp and trembling; not sure what to do, Bothilda made her way to the churn that was brimming with buttermilk. She dipped the ladle and began to fill the man’s bucket for the third time. He tasted it, made a deep-throated noise, and walked away.

Bothilda stood still and waited for the Indian to leave the property. After a few minutes, when she got the courage, she peeked out of the cellar. The man was crossing the fields. Bothilda watched as he walked lazily across the field sipping the cool, delicious buttermilk.

~ Family story preserved by Tulula F. Nelson