EXAMINING THE COMMON PLACES OF OUR THOUGHTS: A CASE STUDY
IN THE FORMATION OF ETHNIC IDENTITIES FOR THE
UNGKA W'PA WGUH'U VTJTSENG, A NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICAN
INDIAN COMMUNITY IN UTAH
B.A., California State University, San Diego 1973
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
has been approved
Sucec, Rosemary (M.A., Anthropology)
Examining the Common Places of Our Thoughts: A Case Study in the Formation of
Ethnic Identities for the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng, a Nineteenth Century American
Indian Community in Utah
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Susan Blum
This study focuses upon the formation of ethnic identities for the
Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng (Red Fish People), a nineteenth century American Indian
community in southeastern Utah. They possessed a discrete identity prior to
colonization. The Mormons who made contact with them in the 1870s and the
archaeologists and cultural anthropologists who subsequently studied them in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries overlaid four additional identities:
"Lamanites," some variation of "Numic hunters and gatherers," "Paiute," and "Ute."
The Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng identity is discussed within a theoretical framework
that examines social processes, particularly that of community self-identification.
The formation of identities bestowed by Mormons, archaeologists, and cultural
anthropologists is discussed using a contextual and class-based causal model. The
new identities become "ethnic" using criteria specified by the model. The application
of these complementary constructs reveals a broad range of consequences that
transcend purely economic ones. Arguments are made for a contextual definition of
ethnicity that incorporates considerations of history and relationships of power.
Recommendations are made for anthropologists who study American Indians.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
CHAPTER 1 ETHNICITY: WHO DETERMINES IDENTITY?
CONSIDERATIONS OF SELF, OTHER, HISTORY, AND POWER.........................7
Ethnicity as Social Classification Ascribed by Observers (Others)-10
Ethnicity as Social Classification Self-Ascribed------------------17
Ethnicity As Social Classification Ascribed by Self and Others in the Context
CHAPTER 2 THE PRE-EXISTING SOCIOLOGICAL REALITY: A GLIMPSE OF
UNGKA W'PA WGUH'U VUTSENG IDENTITY.......................................33
A Glimpse of Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng Identity---------------------37
A Glimpse of Ungkawpawguh'u vutseng Life-------------------------45
Social and Economic Organization----------------------------------54
CHAPTER 3 THE UNGKAW'PAWGUH'U VUTSENG BECOME
"LAMANITES" :ETHNIC REPRESENTATION BY THE CHURCH OF JESUS
CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS...........................................66
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-----------------66
Historical Construction and Assignment of "Lamanite" Identity---69
The Experience of Lamanite Identity-----------------------------72
Contrasting this Representation with the Pre-Existing Reality---78
CHAPTER 4 THE UNGKAW'PAWGUH'U VUTSENG BECOME "NUMIC
HUNTERS AND GATHERERS": ETHNIC REPRESENTATION BY
Historical Construction and Assignment of Identity--------------81
The Experience of Numic Hunter and Gatherer Identity----------88
Contrasting These Representations with the Pre-Existing Reality-93
CHAPTER 5 THE UNGKAWPAWGUHU VUTSENG BECOME "PAIUTE" AND
"UTE": ETHNIC REPRESENTATION BY CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGISTS. 99
Historical Construction and Assignment of Identity--------------99
The Experience of "Paiute" and "Ute" Identity------------------113
Contrast with Pre-Existing Reality-----------------------------119
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION
Barth's and Moerman's Constructs of Self-Identification Applied to the Case
The Comaroffs' Construct of the Formation of Ethnic Identities Applied to the
Case Study Data-----------------------------------------------------130
"Lamanites," "Numic Hunters and Gatherers," "Paiute,"and "Ute" as Ethnic
The Value of Context in the Comaroffs' Model of Ethnicity-----------143
Opportunities for Anthropologists-----------------------------------148
2.1 Area Surrounding Capitol Reef National Park-------------------------36
2.2 Mostly Red Fish People Among Other Refugees Living at Koosharem, Utah, ca.
2.3 Photograph of Rosie Quakanab Timican taken by Omer Stewart (1942)---53
5.1 Isabel Kelly's (1934) Map of "Southern Paiute" Territory-----------111
5.1 Attributes Used by Anthropologists to Identify and Distinguish "Paiute" and
The general purpose of this thesis is to investigate some consequences of
sustained domination.1 2 3 Specifically I focus upon the closely related phenomenon of
the construction and assignment of stereotypic identities by dominant groups (which I
call "ethnic" identities) and how these identities, as well as other effects of
domination, are experienced. All constitute a loss or negation of pre-established
This case study examines a small community of nineteenth century Indians in
Utah who possessed a discrete and consistent identity prior to colonization and the
groups who engaged, represented, and dominated them in some fashion. The
community of Indians referred to themselves as the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng or
"Red Fish People." The Mormons who made contact4 with them in the 1870s and the
1 "Domination," according to the American Heritage Dictionary, refers to exercising control,
authority, and influence. It also refers to occupying the pre-eminent position over someone or in
2 The American Heritage Dictionary defines "privileges" as a special right, advantage,
permission, or benefit enjoyed by or granted to an individual or group. It is important to note that
"privilege" encompasses both rights (which are already enjoyed by virtue of some moral and/or legal
authority) and entitlements (which are granted by an authority, but are not necessarily in prior
3 "Identity" is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as the set of characteristics by
which something is definitively known or recognized.
4 I do not mean to imply by "contact" or "native time" (Steward 1938) that indigenous people
like the Red Fish community were timeless, unchanging, and isolated prior to contact. Anthropologists
archaeologists and ethnographers who subsequently studied them in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries overlaid four additional identities on the Red
Fish community: "Lamanites," some variation of "Numic hunters and gatherers,"
"Paiute," and "Ute." Mormon ideological perceptions of the Red Fish community
justified and authorized their political and economic domination, and inculcated a
sense of shame among some of the Indians. Ethnic identities assigned by
archaeologists and ethnographers (referred to as "classifications," "typologies," and so
on) obscured the self-ascribed identity of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng. The
historical processes by which these anthropologists came to represent the Red Fish
People pre-empted their authority to represent themselves and control their material
past. The effects of domination, including the assignment of ethnic identities,
resulted in a broad range negation of pre-established political, economic, material,
and symbolic or intellectual privileges originally possessed by the Ungkaw'pawguh'u
In the literature review, only constructs of ethnicity are examined that
contribute to an understanding of the issues to be addressed by the thesis. These
constructs include ethnicity as an inventory of traits ascribed by others; as self-
ascription (a form of identity determined by the community); and ethnicity as a class-
(archaeologists and ethnographers) used it, and still do, as a convenient shorthand for the range of time
prior to encounters with newcomers of European ancestry. The consequences associated with contact,
however, were never overtly stated and are a subject for discussion in this thesis.
based phenomenon in a system of domination.
I have chosen to use the Comaroffs definition of ethnicity in this thesis
because it specifically considers the historical and political contexts in which
ethnicity is manifested, unlike other definitions examined in the literature review. An
historical perspective is significant because it brings into relief not only the
phenomenon of domination, but what I refer to as the consequences of it, and what
the Comaroffs refer to as the differential expression and experience of ethnicity
depending on a groups position in the social order (1992:54).
I briefly examine the problematic concept of ethnicity and argue for a
contextual definition of ethnicity, one that considers historical processes in the
formation of identity and what effects relationships of power may have on the
determination of identity. By exploring historical and political contexts, "who"
ascribes identity becomes salient the dominant groupings or the subordinate.
In the late twentieth century our disciplinary classifications have become
contested ethnic identities. This case study shows the effects of some of these
representations. I argue that anthropologists ought to conduct their work in ways that
make explicit tacit research processes and in ways that are more collaborative. I also
suggest ideas for doing that. Through these efforts i challenge "the very categories
through which colonial pasts have been made" (John and Jean Comaroff 1992:15).
While the process may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar, both the discipline of
anthropology and those "people who.. .suffer from the way social memory is fixed"
(Ashforth in John and Jean Comaroff 1992:15) stand to benefit.
Data upon which this thesis is based were obtained in the course of
completing a study to determine American Indian tribes affiliated with Capitol Reef
National Park. The study was funded by the federal government under the auspices
of the National Park Service. Guidelines and policies for national parks require an
inventory of cultural communities with historical and contemporary connections in
order to better manage the resources contained within parks. I produced a final report
from the ethnohistorical research (Sucec 1999).
My report identified for park managers those American Indians who are
authorized to have a voice in land management decision-making at Capitol Reef
National Park. These tribes can provide input about planning and resource
management activities. They also have an opportunity to determine the nature of
information provided to visitors about themselves. They have a voice in the
disposition of human remains and sacred objects found on park lands. The outcome
of the study, then, is significant in bestowing a level of authority to affiliated
Information for the study was gathered from archeological data, historical
documents, anthropological literature, and interviews with American Indians and
local residents. Archaeological data was obtained from three sources: (1) survey
reports from work conducted on park land; (2) survey and excavation reports from
work done on land surrounding Capitol Reef National Park; and (3) preliminary
results of a comprehensive archaeological and testing inventory underway during my
ethnographic and ethnohistorical data-gathering phase.
Anthropological literature from the early twentieth century was available to
review for information about Indians who resided in the vicinity of Capitol Reef
National Park. Ethnographers who had worked with these Indians and/or who
reported on them included Edward Sapir (1930-1931); Isabel Kelly (1934; 1964);
Omer Stewart (1942); Catherine Fowler (1963); Robert Euler (1966); Julian Steward
(1974) who reported on the local Indians for the Indian Claims Commission; and
Omer Stewart, Donald Callaway, and Joel Janetski (1986) who wrote the chapter on
Ute Indians for the Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians.
Very little information about this group of Indians existed in historical
documents. Mormon settlers who were diligent about keeping diaries of their daily,
lives, omitted many references to local Indians. I attribute the paucity of information
about Indians to the hardships which loomed large for Mormons during the
colonization process. However, what their diaries and journals did contain were brief
anecdotal stories about individuals among the Red Fish People.
To augment the scarce literary sources, I interviewed four individuals who are
descendents of the Red Fish People. Today they are enrolled members of the Kanosh
and Koosharem Bands of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. I was referred to these
traditional elders through the tribal council of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. I also
interviewed six descendents of early Mormon settlers. These interviews, though
framed by contemporary understandings, were critical in illuminating something of
the course of the lives of the Ungkaw'pawguhu vutseng at time of contact and the
radical transformations that occurred with colonization.
ETHNICITY: WHO DETERMINES IDENTITY?
CONSIDERATIONS OF SELF, OTHER, HISTORY,
I thought an investigation of ethnicity might solve a practical problem, a
conundrum about the past to which anthropologists, among others, contributed. In
attempting to document for the National Park Service the nature of American Indian
affiliation with Capitol Reef National Park (Figure 1.1), I needed to know those
contemporary tribes whose ancestors might have used lands or resided there.
However, when I began doing fieldwork in 1997,1 received conflicting information
about the tribal identity of a historic group of Indians. Everyone seemed confused as
to whether they were Paiute or Ute. Investigating literature about the concept of
ethnicity seemed like a place to begin to dispel the confusion.
By choosing the concept of ethnicity to clarify the problem, I made
assumptions about its meaning. I took for granted that it referred to the identity of a
community as distinguished from others. I also assumed that overt cultural attributes
defined the human difference. I had no conception of who determined those markers
and the authority by which they became invested to do so, considerations initially
unbeknownst to me that implicated history and politics.
Figure 1.1. Region
I made other assumptions. I believed that the identities of "Paiute" and "Ute"
constituted "solid enduring fact[s] through which we can trace the destinies of
people" (Shennan 1989:13-14). I assumed, too, that cultural anthropologists in
writing about Paiute and Ute represented empirical realities. At some level, despite
my anthropological training, I seemed compelled to focus on a timeless essence a
synchronic perspective of Paiute and Ute that ethnographers seemed to capture in
texts like the Handbook of North American Indians.
After examination of the data in the framework of particular theoretical
perspectives, I realized that "Paiute" and "Ute" constitute "evanescent situational
constructs" (Shennan 1989:13), what I refer to as "ethnic identities," produced by
historical circumstances and relationships of power. That awareness presupposes
preexisting collective identities and the assignment and experience of the constructed
versions. The construction of ethnic identities and consequences that accompanied
such representations under domination are discussed in the thesis.
In the literature review that follows, I arbitrarily chose to make salient facets
of the phenomena of ethnicity, inconsistently defined by theoreticians, that contribute
to an understanding of the problem at hand. The components I have selected are self-
ascription and ascription by others (observers/researchers). They are then placed
within the framework of domination, an outcome of specific historical processes. I
have decoupled them for purposes of analysis because I am talking about a frame of
time during which self-ascribed identity was superposed by ethnic identities
determined by others. By contrast, conceptualizations of self-ascription and
ascription by others the relational nature of the concept are wedded in discourse
about the twentieth century manifestations of ethnicity. In other words, in this case
study, I talk about the origin and formation of ethnic identities and how they have
come to replace self-ascribed identity.
Ethnicity as Social Classification Ascribed
by Observers (Others)
In this section I discuss the process by which classifications are made,
particularly by archaeologists and cultural anthropologists. The reasons for such
classifications are examined, as well as the customary ways anthropological
researchers, in the past, have chosen to define the identities of indigenous peoples.
Because of historical processes elaborated upon elsewhere, these anthropological
constructs have been invested with the authority to portray American Indians, despite
some adverse consequences associated with them.
Phenomenologists argue that universally humans in groups by virtue of the
socialization process engage in the construction of typifications (stereotypes,
categorizations, etc.) to make sense of the world and make the world cognitively
manageable (Goldenberg 1992:7; Wagner 1970:24-25). Some anthropologists
suggest that the search for and ability to make meaning distinguishes the human
.. .myriads of phenomena, each of them a unique occurrence, are
sorted out into a limited number of classes: similar phenomena are
considered the same, called by the same name, and considered alike in
important characteristics [defined by the social and cultural group]
Typifications are generated by the community and cue members into what is relevant.
One or a few characteristics of some kind are selected out as representative markers.
Even the act of naming constitutes a typification (Wagner 1970:24-25).5 Phenomena
like groups of individuals who appear to share overt attributes or have an experience
in common may be differentiated and stereotyped by name and those attributes. For
example, historically some Lakota called the Ute "black people" because they shared
a similar skin color that was darker than those who named them.
Anthropologists, too, build classifications variously referred to as
categories, types, normative characterizations, etic constructs, taxonomies, etc. to
make intellectual sense of phenomena in fulfilling the disciplinary ideals of holism
and comparison. Holism refers to the goal of examining the whole of human
experience. Information gained from these experiences through time and context is
5 Anthropologists ethnographers and archaeologists assign names to sets of similar
phenomena. Earlier ethnographic fieldworkers who took for granted their right to "objectively" assign
identity by arbitrarily selected traits, generally ignored or rarely used the names extant groups
possessed for themselves. Archaeologists in developing taxonomies assign allegedly "culture-neutral"
names to spatially and temporally similar materials unless they can be certain the material
manifestations are directly related to contemporary historical or ethnographic groups. With the civil
rights movement and the legal recognition of oral tradition as a form of evidence or way of knowing
about the past, names historically generated by archaeologists and ethnographers have become hotly
contested by American Indian descendents of the communities and material manifestations named.
ideally compared to arrive at explanations or generalizations. American
archaeologists Gordon Willey and Jeremy Sabloff (1993:117) argue that "typology
and classification lie at the very core of archaeology." Cultural anthropologist James
Lett (1987:61-67) argues that establishing etically constructed knowledge lies at the
core of all of anthropology.
Whether anthropological researchers employ the conventional scientific or
constructivist paradigm,6 all engage in the construction of classifications for the
analysis of their data. For those employing quantitative methods, precisely defined
categories allow data to be manipulated systematically and/or statistically in
relationship with others sets of data. For those using qualitative methods the analysis
of data requires the construction of categories throughout data collection and analysis
(Erlandson et al. 1993:111-120). Whatever the methodology, the relationship
between and among constructs devised by anthropological researchers is the basis of
meaning imposed upon the raw data. Out of meaning, theories about human behavior
are constructed. The rationale for scientific and naturalistic inquiry in anthropology
is the advancement of knowledge about the human species. The purpose may be as
lofty as arriving at explanations and generalizations about human behavior that enable
"predict[ing] and controlling] much of our world" (Lett 1987:22) or modest enough to
6 According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), a relatively new general paradigm has emerged that
challenges the assumptions and beliefs of the "scientific method." This paradigm has been variously
referred to as "naturalistic" or "constructivist."
"provide stimulus and guidance for action" (Guba 1993:xiv).
"Identity," "culture," and "ethnicity" are examples of etic constructs used by
anthropologists to help understand the phenomenon of human difference. The use of
"ethnicity," in lieu of "culture," to describe diverse socio-cultural formations has
proliferated in the past three decades. The increased popularity of the term is
routinely attributed to a particular historical phenomenon. Social scientists in the
mid-twentieth century observed that immigrant groups, referred to as "ethnic groups,"
resisted assimilation. While refugees were transformed by their experiences, they
hardly constituted a "melting pot" (Eriksen 1993; Glazer and Moynihan 1970, 1975;
Omi and Winant 1994). "Ethnicity" became "so visible in many [modem] societies
that it became impossible to ignore..." (Eriksen 1993:2).
Despite prolific use of the term and scholarly interest in studying ethnic
groups, disagreement and ambiguity persist about the nature of ethnicity. The picture
is complicated by the fact that social scientists, including anthropologists, routinely,
in the past, have not defined the term. In a review of 65 studies pertaining to
ethnicity, researchers defined the term in only 13 of them (Isajiw in Cohen 1978:385).
Customarily anthropologists have used an "objectivist" approach to human
identity (Jones 1997:57). That is, objective phenomena selected by researchers
constituted identity. Named groups were "singled out by the researcher as ethnic
units. Membership in such groups... [were correlated].. .with one or
more...variable(s)" for specific aims (Cohen 1978:385). Variables included tangible
traits and behavioral practices. Essentially, researchers determined group identity;
community self-identification was not a variable.
For example, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cultural
anthropologists and geographers (Kroeber 1939; Mason 1985; Steward 1938; Wissler
1914) began building and employing constructs of identity under the guise of "culture
areas." They observed and reported upon a close correspondence between natural
areas, cultural traits, and social formations. They suggested that human social and
cultural behavior was to a large extent determined by the natural habitat. Geographer
O.T. Mason (1895) identified 18 "ethnic environments" for North America. He
arrived at these culture areas by correlating climate and environment with attributes
of technology, food, and crafts. Cultural anthropologist Clark Wissler (1914) used a
list of traits similar to Mason and arrived at nine culture areas for North America.
Yet, Wissler noted an apparent contradiction. The material attributes anthropologists
were using to delineate a cultural community, or "culture area," seemed to be of little
relevance in delimiting ever-changing boundaries between smaller social formations
that distinguished themselves from one another.
.. .the tribes in a culture center have only cultural unity, for they are
scarcely ever united politically or speak mutually intelligible
languages. It is curious how such uniformity of material culture may
be found between neighboring tribes who when on the warpath kill
each other on sight...(Wissler 1914:468)
For a time, the culture area concept proved to be a useful analytical construct to order
data for museum collections and attempt to understand the relationship between the
environment and socio-cultural manifestations. However, it became problematic
when these constructed categories were transformed into dynamic social and cultural
entities (Ellen 1991). The origins of the tribal categories of "Paiute" and "Ute," as
will be seen later, essentially reflect a tum-of-the-century, culture area approach to
the identities of indigenous peoples. These designations were based on a suite of
traits (like possession of horse and dialect) that were more reflective of environmental
adaptation, not social formations.
Similarly, cultural anthropologists working in the field in the 1940s and 1950s
knew "they were often as not creating arbitrary and artificial boundaries" (Cohen
1978:380), though, by implication, that awareness was taken for granted. For
example, cultural anthropologist Raoul Naroll (1964) defined a "tribe" or "ethnic
group" as constituted by the traits of language, political organization, and territorial
contiguity. Self-identification and social mechanisms for boundary maintenance were
not included. Naroll (1964:291) acknowledged that his cultural unit was "an arbitrary
definition whose justification is its convenience" in survey work.
The "objectivist" approach was apparent in early archaeology, too. In the
nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, archaeologists were in agreement
about what constituted a cultural entity and the methods by which to retrieve that
information from the material record. Diagnostic artifacts spatially distributed and
associated with one another defined an "archaeological culture."7 This patterned
variation of tangible attributes was regarded as the product of a community of actors,
of a culturally discrete social group often referred to as an "ethnic" group or "culture"
(Shennan 1989:5-6). One of the core problems with the traditional archaeological
conception of culture, similar to the ethnographic concept of culture, was that a
pattern of spatial variation is the product of other factors including adaptation,
function, resource availability, and so on. That sort of information is difficult to sort
out from those attributes that signal the self-ascribed identity of a social group.
"Ethnicity" or "ethnic group" in archaeology have become synonyms for
"archaeological culture" and "culture." "Culture" was the unquestioned unit of study
in archaeology until the mid-1960s. The material variables that defined it were
determined by the archaeological researcher. Some archaeologists still adhere to
traditional conceptions as embodied by the construct of archaeological culture. David
Madsen, co-editor with David Rhode (1994) of a text reviewing current
archaeological knowledge about the expansion of Numic speakers postulated by
Lamb in 1958, defines archaeologically expressed culture as a "narrow range of
variation with edges not well-defined" (personal communication 1998). He regards
the term "ethnic group" as synonymous with culture, defines culture as shared
7 The concept of "archaeological culture" developed out of European nationalism and its
effort to show the "long history of the peoples and nation-states which were then emerging as
important political entities" (Shennan 1989:7). It is conceptually linked to the idea of "culture area" in
behavior, and said he and Rhode avoided the use of "ethnic group" or "ethnicity" in
their text because of the current debate surrounding it (David Madsen, personal
communication, 1998). Introductory archaeological texts variously treat the subject
of "ethnicity" or "ethnic group." Where the terms are used, they refer to a "culture."
One author (Trigger 1994) uses them but does not define them. Where the
terms are used, they connote a culturally differentiated social group. In other texts
(Thomas 1989; Willey and Sabloff 1993 ), the terms are altogether avoided and
"cultures" are referred to as those social units in a different realm of time about which
information (chronology, history, processes), explanation, and generalization is
A trait list selected by the colonial observer has, after all, been the process that
has determined representations of American Indians since the arrival of Europeans on
this continent. Anthropologists, as one segment of the dominant observer class, have
engaged in this particular process of classification. Through it, skewed images of the
human "other" results. What is meaningful to those observed becomes immaterial.
The emic constructs of the studied community become suppressed.
Ethnicity as Social Classification Self-Ascribed
In the 1960s, cultural anthropologists began to explore the notion of identity
based on actors' perceptions of it. Michael Moerman (1965), involved in
documenting social systems in a region of Thailand, discovered what he suggested
were two quintessential features of "ethnic identification." "Lue-ness" constituted
both a (1) community conception of a commoness and (2) the manifestation of it in
relationship with others. Identity could not exist in isolation, but depended upon
"excluded others" to confirm it.
Moerman was not alone in exploring the social dimensions of "ethnicity"
(Murphy 1964; Shibutani and Kwan 1965; Wallerstein 1960). From the 1940s
through the 1960s, social scientists were observing the persistence, not assimilation,
of certain social forms -- what became labeled as "ethnic groups" (Omi and Winant
1994). Theoreticians explored the nature of this phenomenon with a focus on
identity as subjective and process-oriented in specific cultural contexts.
By the end of the decade of the 1960s, a theoretical model was offered to
explain the tenacious nature of "ethnic groups." Swedish social anthropologist
Fredrik Barth, in the introduction to the book Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (1969),
o t 4
specified two key components of identity (reminiscent of Moerman). Communities
must have a shared perception of themselves and that conception is reconfirmed while
engaged with others. Barth focused upon the expression of these elements in the
phenomenon of "boundaries." Intangible boundaries were maintained in social
interaction. In this arena, members of self-defined communities would engage in the 8
8 Barth uses the term "ethnicity" or "ethnic groups" to refer to all differentiated social
formations whether in a stratified system of classes or not. As will be seen, other theoreticians place
specific conditions on the use of the term.
on-going sorting into "we" and "they," into members and outsiders.
Socially relevant factors alone became diagnostic for membership, not
the overt, 'objective' differences which are generated.. .It makes no
difference how dissimilar members may be in their overt
behavior... (Barth 1969:15).
But a community must have a sense of itself as different from others. Barth
identified this as "self-ascription" and defines it as the process by which members
identify themselves as belonging to a group based on two criteria. These include the
ability of an individual to behave in accordance with certain values and to be judged
by members on that basis, as well as the adoption of overt signs or attributes that the
group regards as important, e.g. dress, language, house-form.
Traits, from the communitys perspective, can serve as criteria for
membership (values and behavior being the other), but members of the group
determine which of the overt signs or features are significant. These features or
markers, then, are used by actors and outsiders to signal difference. Only in this
context do traits become relevant to identity and are helpful in distinguishing it (Barth
1969:11). Obviously, it becomes problematic for cultural anthropologists who
attempt to determine identity based on traits alone.9
Other problems are posed by using a trait-deterministic approach to identity.
For example, traits have a life of their own, independent from identities. They can be
9 This is problematic for archeologists, too. How can they know which those might be,
especially when in some cases written records do not exist and the people whose cultural remains are
an outcome of ecological adaptation. Or, they can be incorporated into the practices
of a group through cultural transmission for reasons of technological efficiency, not
necessarily related to identity (Barth 1969). Possession of borrowed traits does not
signify membership in a group.10 Some traits are the product of invention. Too, traits
continuously vary; they do not correspond or coincide with how groups define
themselves or the names that have been imposed upon them by outsiders. For
example, the same trait, like style of dress, can be shared by different self-identified
groups. Moerman (1965:1218) cites an example of a sarong that not only the Lue use
to identify themselves, but other groups in northern Thai region use as a
distinguishing marker as well. Barth (1969) notes that differing economic adaptations
are encompassed by the self-identified Pathan community. As will be seen in
subsequent chapters, a diversity of linguistic dialects, not one, was spoken by the
Koosharem enclave of Indians in the early twentieth century.
While traits are useful to a limited degree (as discussed above), what becomes
the "crystallization" of identity, is the "ethnic label" or name a group gives to itself
...ethnic identifications and the names which label them recognize and
coincide with such 'blueprints for living' as are recognized by the folk
who follow those blueprints. I assume that when a set of people gives
being studied are not alive to ask? Alternatives are offered later in the paper.
10 For example, the Navajo have borrowed Puebloan traditions of weaving and farming,
however, the Puebloans do not recognize Navajos as members of their "ethnic" group.
another set the same name as it gives itself, it perceives that other set
to be like itself; when a set is given some other name, it has been
perceived as significantly different (Moerman 1965:1220).
In the second chapter of this thesis, the self-identified nature of an American Indian
community in the nineteenth century is explored. The label or name the group had
for themselves is among only a few pieces of evidence that remain to give testimony
to their identity, however evanescent.
The relatively new-found awareness of the social dimension of identity
addresses a popular misconception of the culture area approach, that is, topographical
barriers are the boundaries that result in diversity because of social isolation.11 As
theoreticians like Barth suggest, social processes create the boundary (though
intangible) that result in diversity.
despite a flow of personnel across them.. .categorical ethnic
distinctions do not depend on an absence of mobility, contact and
information, but do entail social processes of exclusion and
incorporation whereby discrete categories are maintained despite
changing participation and membership in the course of individual life
histories. (Barth 1969:9-10)
Despite Barth's efforts to lay such myths to rest, these notions tenaciously persist.12
11 This perception is likely the legacy of a biological/genetic model adopted from the natural
sciences, if not from human evolutionary studies.
12 Archaeologists (Janetski and Kreutzer 1997) conducting a comprehensive archaeological
survey of Capitol Reef National Park tested the hypothesis that the Waterpocket Fold, a massive
sandstone monocline extending for 100 miles and comprising the park, was a contributing if not causal
factor for the demarcation of Fremont and Anasazi boundaries, contemporaneous in the region.
Contained within this hypothesis are some assumptions including the belief that topographical barriers
cause diversity; that labels reflect actual social formations; and that the people constituting the
In decades subsequent to the 1960s, cultural anthropologists continue to
explore "ethnicity" as self-ascription, that is, as cognitive categories and traits salient
in peoples' consciousness. Simultaneously and integrally linked, we continue to
explore the processual nature of identity, that is, its dynamic relational, situational,
and political qualities. More attention is being paid to the variations of it. Qualifiers
or conditions are being placed upon the concept not only to further our understanding,
but to help make the concept more analytically useful for comparative purposes
For example, Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1993) restricts a definition of
ethnicity to a culturally differentiated phenomenon. An ethnic group exists when
cultural attributes recognized by them and others make a difference in
interaction.. Implied in this definition is the social boundary. Gender and class,
while related, are not components of ethnicity (unlike the definitions that follow in
the next section). However, Eriksen acknowledges the complexity of the
relationships among all these variables. 13
"Fremont" and "Anasazi" were differentiated from one another because of topography. The Hopi
Cultural Preservation Office contends that the material traits used to distinguish the Fremont from the
Anasazi in the Capitol Reef region (to which Janetski and Kreutzer refer) may actually reflect material
adaptations to differing environments (Clay Hamilton, personal communication, 1998). As discussed
earlier, Barth in his model cautions against using traits as ethnic markers because they may mirror
environmental adaptation, not identity.
13 Critical to Eriksen's definition is the relational nature of ethnicity. He explores in depth
related aspects including the dynamic, ambiguous, political (involving gain and loss), and complex
nature implied by "relationship." I have, however, not chosen to focus on this aspect of "ethnicity" for
There is never a simple one-to-one relationship between ethnic
membership and rank in a society. The reason is that there are always
additional criteria for rank. Gender, class membership, age and other
criteria.. .all contribute to defining a person's rank....In many
polyethnic societies, there is nevertheless a high correlation between
ethnic identity and class membership (Eriksen 1993:50-51).
Based on experience and observation, Eriksen (1993:12) identifies a range of social
phenomena that he considers to meet the criteria of an ethnic group or groups
engaged in ethnic relations. These include urban minorities, indigenous people,
proto-nations, and groups in plural societies. It is worth noting that the condition of
domination exists in association with each of these categories. "Ethnicity" or identity
in the context of domination is explored later.
Cultural anthropologists also are moving beyond the concept of identity as a
social boundary.14 Looking at identity in this fashion implies a cultural wholeness
that is illusory, a product of historical ways of anthropological thinking (Clifford
1988:337-339). Instead, identity can be envisioned as exchanges, a "nexus of
relationships and transactions" (1998:344) where the focus is not on the
anthropological concepts of "wholeness" and "continuity," but on "historical
processes of appropriation, compromise, subversion, masking, invention, and revival"
(1998:338). These transactions take place among a broad spectrum of individuals, yet
14 For the purpose of his study, Clifford (1988:339) prefers to use the word "identity" rather
than "ethnicity." He offers his perception of the customary anthropological meaning of "ethnicity,"
that is, a "weak conception of culture suitable for organizing diversity within the pluralist state." This
definition conforms to what others would call a class-based definition of ethnicity.
retain some element of an organic unit through time. Clifford's analysis encompasses
not only resourceful human agency in social dimensions through time ("history" is an
element Clifford has added to a social analysis of identity), but speaks to aspects of
intellectual domination that ultimately subvert even anthropological understanding.
Clifford is aware of the "powerful ways of looking" (1988:289) by anthropologists
and members of the legal system. These conceptual entrapments limit not only our
disciplinary knowledge, that is, our ability to see how people "define themselves... in
spite of others" (1988:289), but also pre-empt American Indians from having the
power to determine their own cultural authenticity.
Archaeological views of ethnicity are shifting, also, to encompass self-
definitions and the processual nature of the phenomenon. While for some
archaeologists "ethnicity" or "ethnic group" remain synonyms for "culture" as
illustrated above, even the definition of "culture" is changing. Nor do all
contemporary archaeologists agree about the definition of "ethnicity." While some
contemporary theorists (Jones 1997; Shennan 1989) are inclined to incorporate the
perspectives of self-identification into their definitions of ethnicity, they disagree on
whether to place conditions on it. Stephen Shennan (1989) prefers to limit its usage
to self-identified groups in state-level societies. Sian Jones (1997) argues that all
cohesive societies as processual, transient, and interconnected phenomena as these
are deal with issues of power. Ethnicity is, therefore, an appropriate term. The
question for both, however, is how to evince self-identification from the material
record of the prehistoric past. While Shennan acknowledges how problematic it is for
archaeologists, Jones attempts some resolution of the difficulty by proposing the
application of a practice theory of ethnicity to the material record, as well as to
contemporary relationships between archaeologists and studied groups.15 Employing
Bourdieu's notion of habitus, human difference, characterized as "ethnicity" by Jones,
becomes objectified in the material record, but requires contextual analysis including
considerations of historical processes, power relations including access to resources,
and the transformations brought about and objectified through interactions. Jones'
definition incorporates multiple dimensions of ethnicity including self-ascription and
ascription by others, however, they are re-configured not as the dichotomy I have
represented, but as facets of a phenomenon in constant social negotiation. As will be
seen below, cultural anthropologists acknowledge all of the same dimensions of
ethnicity, but describe it from a macro-structuralist perspective.
Cultural anthropologists and archaeologists continue to amplify their
understanding of ethnicity inclusive of its dynamic context and component of
community self-identification. In the perspectives of anthropologists to follow,
"who" is doing the observing -- and naming becomes salient. What follows is a
15 Practice theory was developed in the late 1970s and 1980s. By examining the domain of
"practice," that is, the interaction among individuals as actors, information about socio-cultural
structures is manifested, replicated, as well as transformed by actors. Practice theory moves away
from the legacy of European colonial definitions of culture as discrete, bounded, and entrenched units.
Instead, "culture" in all of its facets, including structural constraints, are embodied within us, our
interactions, and in the material record. Practice becomes a place to study structural determinism and
perspective that had been lacking before: a concept of ethnicity that inquires into
political and economic disparity and its consequences in ethnic group relationships.
Ethnicity As Social Classification Ascribed by Self and
Others in the Context of Domination
A consideration of the context of domination is another critical factor to
explore in understanding ethnicity. After all, the discipline of anthropology, within
the framework of domination, has become empowered to create analytical constructs
that have assumed authority in how those they study, particularly American Indians,
are viewed. This form of domination is an outcome of specific historical processes
that remain tacit (but will be explored in following chapters) and yet has resulted in
adverse consequences for those studied and represented.
Some political economists (Wallerstein 1979; Wolf 1990) argue that the origin
of ethnicity lies in capitalism. They suggest that the phenomenon of ethnicity
proliferated when capitalism became the world economy.16 Ethnicity is an outcome
of the creation of classes in a system of domination.17 Through colonial conquest and
human agency (Ortner 1984).
16 He refers to capitalism as a "world-economy" which has existed in Europe since 1450 and
has existed as a "global system" since approximately 1815 (1979:196). Capitalism is a means of
production in which production is done primarily for profit. According to Wallerstein, this is what
makes capitalism unique (1979:272). Profit or "capital" is accumulated through the employment of
human labor, whether for wages through slavery, sharecropping, cash-crop production, and so on
(1979:17). Laborers have "no other means of using their labor to ensure their livelihood..." (Wolf
17 Wallerstein (1979:167) borrows Marx's and Weber's definition of "class" as a group of
domination, capitalism expanded productivity. Diverse groups were brought together
not only as laborers, but as competitors for goods and services perceived as valuable.
Ethnic groups functioned "to permit people to organize into entities to compete for
goods and services viewed as valuable in the environment" (Wallerstein 1979:173).
The labor market divides all of those who work in it into a ranked order based on
differential pay, working conditions, and job security. These divisions tend to be
reinforced by appealing to ethnic differences, referred to as "ethnic segmentation"
(Wolf 1990:379). Lower ranked classes are labeled or categorized by dominant
groupings in terms of their supposed affinity. The "ethnic identification," as
Moerman (1965) referred to it, assigned to a segment of the working class rarely if at
all coincides with how the members of this group identify themselves. This process
of aggregation was noted by other anthropologists (John and Jean Comaroff 1992)..
Other political economists (John and Jean Comaroff 1992) argue that ethnicity
originates only in a system of inequality. Structures of domination produce classes.
Classes can exist in some anomalous modes of kinship, tributary modes, capitalistic
modes, and in any other structurally-similar manifestations that we have seen or may
see in the future. Capitalism, then, becomes one variation on a theme. Ethnicity, in
this model, originates when a group is subsumed into a political economy, e.g.,
through colonization or immigration, and assumes a subordinate position in that
persons related in a similar way to the economic system.
structure. This phenomenon is referred to as "structured inequality" (John and Jean
Comaroff 1992:56). The dominant group removes the subaltern group from any
control it formerly had over production. Classes are created. The new laborers are
"actualized" as a group regardless of their prior social formation and though they may
not yet have collective consciousness (1992:56).
Political economists, by focusing their attention on the condition of inequality,
acknowledge the relational, as well as political, nature of ethnicity. Ethnic groups are
always in contention for economic resources. They use their status in the labor
market to their political advantage to "establish economic and political claims..."
(Wolf 1990:381). A political act of assertion creates a "we" and a "they" and that
boundary shifts depending upon any given political act (Wallerstein 1979:184-185).
Because ethnicity customarily involves conflict over resource access, it is viewed as a
political phenomenon (Wallerstein 1979; Wolf 1990).
These analyses seem to be oriented toward a contemporary, twentieth century
understanding of ethnicity as class in industrialized labor markets. Can this condition
be said to apply to the way in which social groups organized and differentiated
themselves prior to contact with the bearers of capitalism? For example, could the 18
18 This differs from Wallerstein's (1979:184) argument that ethnic groups are constituted
when they have "ethnic consciousness," i.e., a shared sentiment among a group who define themselves
by a set of conspicuous attributes and who perceive that they must assert their rights to maintain or
improve their material condition." Disagreement as to the moment of actualization reflects, I believe,
the Comaroffs' in-depth examination of the origin of ethnicity and ethnic identities, as well as then-
understanding of the deterministic power of dominant groups to superpose identities on subordinate
nineteenth century American Indian community that is the subject of this thesis be
considered an ethnic group?
This is an issue about which theoreticians disagree. Some (Barth 1969; Cohen
1978) use the term "ethnic group" to refer to all differentiated social formations.
Domination is not a necessary pre-condition. Others (Clifford 1988; John and Jean
Comaroff 1992; Shennan 1989; Wallerstein 1979; and Wolf 1992) differentiate
"ethnic groups" from kin-based and/or egalitarian/sovereign groups. They restrict its
usage to class-based interest groups which result from asymmetrical relationships.
These ethnic groups predominate in tributary economies and nation-states. While
they acknowledge that ethnic groups existed in stratified societies or states before
capitalism (e.g., the Tutsi dominating the Hutu prior to the colonization of Africa),
they argue that the proliferation of ethnic groups are a consequence of the world
economy of capitalism. According to these theoreticians, the application of
"ethnicity" should be limited to class-based social formations. At least one
archaeologist (Jones 1997) argues that relationships of power must be a consideration
in all social formations, whether they are state level or not.19 Jones asserts that some
form of domination occurs within egalitarian communities. Therefore, ethnicity and
classes. Once those identities have been established, they supercede self-ascribed ones.
19 An important issue to examine, though not the topic of this thesis, is whether or not a
qualitative difference exists in the consequences of domination between subsumed classes in
egalitarian societies and classes in state-level societies.
ethnic groups existed in these societies as well, entities archaeologists also study.20
There are attributes of egalitarian groups (like the one discussed in Chapter 2)
that do differentiate them from the class-based ethnic groups discussed earlier. An
egalitarian group could be kin-based or totemic. Totemism is one among other forms
of social classification differentiated by anthropologists.21 Totemism
.. .emerges with the establishment of symmetrical relations between
structurally similar social groupings groupings which may or may
not come to be integrated into one political community (John and Jean
Totemic groups, then, are politically and economically equivalent. One or some do
not dominate the other[s]. These groups are independent, interdependent, or
incorporated into a single polity. Whether or not totemic groups do become
incorporated, the nature of their relationship can continue to exist.22
Other attributes characterize totemic groups. They retain control over the
20 Subsumed classes within egalitarian and middle-range pre-state communities is the subject
of archaeological and ethnographic investigation. For example, Leach (1964) discusses ranking
by status in Burmese social systems. Saitta (1994; 1996; 1997) examines alternative approaches to
traditional conceptions of class and these conceptions in middle-range, pre-state societies.
21 Eric Wolf (1990:91) refers to "kin-ordered" as another form of social classification. Kin-
ordered groupings, too, would be considered groups of equivalency, i.e., in the ethnographic record
none appear to have dominated the other. According to Wolf, a kin-ordered system allows the
assignment of labor through personal and social relationships. It is important to remember that both
"totemism" and "kin-ordered" categories are generated by cultural anthropologists choosing variables
meaningful for comparison, classification, and generalizations about human behavior.
22 For example, in several generations, numerous and diverse clans immigrated to Black Mesa
to become the Hopi Tribe, likely among the first multi-cultural communities in this country. Clans
retained their social identities and relationships of equivalence, despite early coalescence and the
subsequent imposition of the Tribal Re-Organization Act (1934) by the federal government.
means of their own production. These autonomous groups enter into relatively
equivalent relationships with one another, fashioning their "collective identities by
contrast to one another" by virtue of their plant or animal emblem (John and Jean
Comaroff 1992:55). The original identity of one is not subordinated or suppressed by
the other as it is in ethnicity. The types of relationships between and among such
groups can include exchange, raiding (for personnel or resources), and warfare.
Hostile relations may yield what the Comaroffs refer to as "short-term inequalities"
between them (1992:55). The prominent feature, then, of totemic relationships is that
groups maintain relative equality with one another; none are subordinated.
As a condition of ethnicity, domination is not only political and economic, but
symbolic. The process of domination is infused with meaning; groups in power
rationalize the subordination of classes (John and Jean Comaroff 1992). Through this
process, identities are constructed for newly formed classes. The new arrangement of
domination demands "meaningful signification"(John and Jean Comaroff 1992:56).
Structures of inequality require rationalization. Those in control ideologically
legitimize it. The dominant group ascribes the lower rank of others to their "nature"
which becomes naturalized, essentialized; it becomes their "ethnic identity," though
they may experience themselves differently. This is particularly likely to occur
...when the underclasses are composed of people of diverse origins: in
such circumstances, the substance of their identities, as contrived from
both within and outside, is inevitably a bricolage .... (John and Jean
which is an illustration of the manner in which historical processes like colonization
yield novel ethnic groupings. This new identity may have "little foundation in pre-
existing sociological reality" (John and Jean Comaroff 1992:53)." Ethnic labels or
names are an outcome of signification (1992:60). According to the authors, what
determines the substance of the cultural representations and the rank order within the
social structure is a particular set of historical and cultural contexts.
The thesis is, in fact, a case study in the construction and assignment of ethnic
identities for a group of nineteenth century American Indians who were at first
subsumed into the Mormon tributary and, eventually, capitalist modes. The thesis
examines the manner in which these identities and other consequences of domination
were experienced by them. Chapter 2 relays a sense of the identity the
Ungkaw pawguh u vutseng or Red Fish People possessed just prior to and at time of
contact. Barths criteria for self-ascription is employed. Information contained in
this chapter is contrasted with how Mormons, archaeologists, and ethnographers
viewed and bestowed identities upon them in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 6
evaluates the usefulness and limitations of both Barths and the Comaroffs
understanding of ethnicity and makes some recommendations. 23
23 These are the sorts of ethnic labels that are currently being contested. For example, the use
of the name "Anasazi" for ancestors of the Hopi who have their own name for their ancestors. Names,
too, become resources claimed by those who no longer have control over how they are labeled.
THE PRE-EXISTING SOCIOLOGICAL REALITY: A
GLIMPSE OF UNGKA W'PA WGUH'U VUTSENG IDENTITY
Fragments of data collected for the Capitol Reef National Park affiliation
study enable a glimpse of how the Red Fish People identified themselves and what
life must have been like for them just prior to Mormon settlement of the project area
in 1873. Pieces of information that pertain to self-identity consist of words gleaned
from interviews with Ungkaw'pawguh'vutseng descendants. Data about their cultural
practices at time of contact are culled from the same interviews, as well as from oral
histories and written documents from settlers and their descendants who had contact
with them. Anthropological constructs of Fredrick Barth (1969), Eric Wolf (1990),
and Jean and John Comaroff (1992) provide a framework with which to discuss the
attributes the Red Fish People used to differentiate themselves symbolically and
organize themselves socially, politically, and economically. The purpose of this
exercise is to juxtapose the information obtained from it with the nature of the ethnic
identities overlayed by Mormons, archaeologists, and cultural anthropologists
described in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. What becomes apparent is that these identities have
"little foundation in pre-existing sociological reality" (John and Jean Comaroff
1992:53) and resulted in the "invention of tradition" (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983).
Before I begin, I want to make two qualifications. First, I have no illusion that
what follows is a complete representation of the Ungkaaw'pawguh'u vutseng. So
much of the fragmentary evidence is still subject to interpretation. I do believe,
however, that it conveys not an imaginary entity, but a sense of a relatively discrete,
self-identified community, however fleeting it may have been in time. As will be
seen, with colonization by Mormons, whatever momentary discreteness it possessed
was radically altered. Secondly, I am not suggesting, by the portraiture in this
chapter, the existence of a pre-ethnic "Golden Age." In other words, I am not
claiming that the Red Fish identity remained eternally fixed. Nor am I claiming that
relationships internally and with others remained unceasingly egalitarian. As
discussed in chapter 1, theorists agree that social identity is always evanescent and
situational. Many acknowledge that inequalities exist within egalitarian societies, in
addition to the temporary inequalities that exist between them. It is not possible to
know the historical, social, and political transformations that ultimately resulted in the
Red Fish identity portrayed here. This identity, too, became obscured, superceded by
multiple others discussed in subsequent chapters.
Capitol Reef National Park was established by Congress in the 1930s to
encompass most of the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, the largest exposed
monocline in North American. This geological uplift (or colloquially, reef) stretches
from the high plateau of Thousand Lake Mountain to what is now Lake Powell on the
The vicinity surrounding and encompassing Capitol Reef National Park lies
north of the Colorado River in south-central Utah (Figure 2.1). High mountain
plateaus of 11,000 feet or more and their retreating escarpments descend into the
varicolored, stratified, sedimentary formations of shales and sandstones known as the
canyon lands of Capitol Reef, the newly designated Grand Staircase National
Monument, and the region of the Henry Mountains, a volcanic intrusion into the
canyon country. The plateaus which lie to the north and west include Thousand Lake,
Boulder Mountain, Fishlake Hightop, and the Awapa Plateaus. These form the
southern, western, and northern boundary of a twenty-five mile long valley referred to
by locals as "Rabbit Valley," named by a Mormon militia general who, in 1865, when
pursuing an indigenous resister, Black Hawk, through the Valley noted the plenitude
of rabbits there (Chappell 1975:10). When the Mormons arrived in the 1870s, Rabbit
Valley was the winter residence for the community known as Ungkaw'pawguhu
vutseng or "Red Fish People." These people considered both the Hightop plateaus
and the canyon lands their homeland and depended upon the diversity of the ecozones
to sustain them as they led their lives there (Sucec 1999). Soon after settlement, the
communities of Loa, Bicknell, Lyman, and Torrey were established; they remain in
Figure 2.1. Area Surrounding Capitol Reef National Park
A Glimpse of Ungkaw 'pawguh 'u vutseng Identity
While there is not much information, some exists by which to discern a sense
of the collective consciousness of the Red Fish community at time of contact.
Information can be gleened from interviews with members (Kanosh 1983) and
descendants (Bushhead 1995; Campbell and Timican 1995; Charles 1995, 1997a,
1997b; Timican 1995, 1997). Anglo LeVan Martineau (1992) who married into a
band among the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, began in the 1940s to gather the oral
tradition of elders who lived in Southern Utah, including the Capitol Reef vicinity,
before Mormon and non-Mormons arrived. In his book, Southern Paiutes: Legends,
Lore, Language, and Lineage, Martineau includes stories, names, customs, and
approximate locations of communities in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Red Fish People (Figure 2.2) tell about their origin:
Coyote was suppose to take a sack to the middle of the country. He
came by way of the big River [Colorado River], At the time he heard
singing and drumming inside the sack. He opened it though he was
told not to. All the different tribes came out and are now all over the
land. All that was left in the sack was us. It was someplace just south
of here that he opened the sack (Vera Charles to Sucec, field notes,
Vera is a descendent of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng and a former resident
of Koosharem, an Indian enclave in Utah. The enclave was officially designated
"Paiute" in the twentieth century. Origin stories of the Paiute, Ute, and Shoshone
Figure 2.2. Mostly Red Fish People Among Other Refugees Living at
Koosharem, Utah, ca. 1905.
uniformly occurred within a territory familiar to the group (Stewart 1996:41-42).
Migration stories are absent among the Red Fish People. This markedly contrasts
with the traditional histories of contemporary Puebloans like the Hopi and the Zuni.
Their origins occurred in another world, entering this one from somewhere along the
Colorado River, and tell of their ancestors' spiritually-mandated migrations on this
continent, which included passage through the Capitol Reef region, until they
purposefully coalesced in Arizona and New Mexico at the "center place" they were
directed to find (Ferguson et al. 1993:27).
The name Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng or "Red Fish People" was provided to a
scholar by the son (Jimmy Timican) of Florence Kanosh who was a member of this
community at the time of Mormon settlement (Martineau 1992:154). She was bom in
1889.24 "Red fish" refers to the meat of the trout, a fish found in abundance within
their domain, particularly at Fish Lake, but teeming elsewhere in the plateau
Anthropologist Isabel Kelly who did fieldwork with neighbors of the Red Fish
People in the 1930s noted that the names groups chose for themselves were most
frequently associated with the topography they inhabited or with a predominant food
source (Kelly 1964:142). John Wesley Powell conducting fieldwork among the
24 Florence Kanosh was bora almost 20 years after the first settlers came to the Capitol Reef
region. Her memories of the Red Fish People and their life ways are from the period after contact.
However, stories told by her elders pre-date settlement of Capitol Reef country. The information she
provided in her interview represents the closest generation to that era.
Southern Numa in the late 1800s noted something similar. "An Indian will never ask
to what nation or tribe or body of people another Indian belongs but to 'what land do
you belong and how are you land named?'" (Fowler and Fowler 1971:38). Powell
also commented that the Southern Paiute and Ute had an idiom for this phenomenon
which translated to "land-nameds" (Powell and Ingalls 1873:49).
Jimmy went on to tell Martineau that his "band,"
lived at Fish Lake [Figure 2.1], Utah, during the summer...other bands
would come here and camp during the summer and share in the
abundant fish and wildlife. In the late 1800s.. .a Fish Chief.. .took
charge of this large summer encampment. His name was Pawguh'u
Neahv meaning Fish Chief.. ..[we] would make a yearly migration
from Fish Lake, that would include the Henry Mountains and the
Escalante area, .. .following] the seasons for harvesting certain food
products. This route was through the territory of other bands
The range was expansive and included the Henry Mountains and the Aquarius
Plateau, both of which were part of the estate of neighbors.
Fredrik Barth (1969:15) argues that territory is not a necessary criterion for
ethnicity as defined by him. Remember that he applied the term to all differentiated
social forms regardless of whether these groupings were encompassed within a state
level society. Social group affiliation equates with "ethnicity" for Barth. However,
Barth did not exclude the possibility that cohesive communities could be associated
with territory or be exclusive occupants of it.
The consciousness of the Red Fish People as being distinct from others is
exhibited in a statement of Florence Kanosh who was 94 years old when she was
interviewed in 1983. Permanent settlement forced the relocation in the early 1900s of
the Red Fish People to a community referred to as Koosharem in Grass Valley to the
west. Koosharem was originally the home of another community of Indians
decimated in one of the battles associated with the Black Hawk War. Florence told
the interviewer that once they moved to Koosharem to join those Indians who
remained in the enclave ".. .we've come to be... member [s] of Koosharem ever since"
(Kanosh 1983). This episode also serves to illustrate just one example of the sorts of
historical forces that cause change in group membership and identity.
For Fredrik Barth (1969:13) the distinguishing feature of ethnicity is "self-
ascription and ascription by others." Barth attempts to examine the social processes
which make some people members of a group and others strangers to it. His primary
focus is on the rules of social interaction. Generally, these processes have to do with
behaving according to a prescribed set of rules and values and being judged by
members on that basis. Members of a group decide which overt attributes the group
shall adopt as signs of membership status. Tangible characteristics, then, are an
outgrowth of ethnicity and not determinants of it.
Insufficient evidence exists to determine the rules of social interaction which
might have determined membership among the Red Fish People. What is known is
that membership appears to have been very fluid as witnessed from the seeming ease
with which members of other communities like the Antarianunts or the
Sanwawitimpaya of Escalante, Utah, now in the new Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument, could become members of the Red Fish People or members of
these communities became "Koosharem." At the very least we know they
differentiated themselves by name from other communities of Indians in the region.
Nor is it possible to know with certitude the sorts of objects they regarded as
significant to membership. However, if we include landscapes within the category of
objects, certainly the land where they lived, which yielded "red fish," was of
paramount significance. It was conceived of symbolically as a part of who they were.
J.W. Powell realized the significance of homeland symbolized by the group
.. .the very name of the Indian is his title deed to his home and thus it
is that these Indians have contended so fiercely for the possession of
the soil, ...His national pride and patriotism, his peace with other
tribes, his home and livelihood for his family, all his interests,
everything that is dear to him is associated with his country. (Powell as
cited in Fowler and Fowler 1971:38).25
Powell used the apt metaphor of nationalistic patriotism to enable his audience
to comprehend the emotional attachment of Great Basin/Colorado Plateau groups to
their homelands. In his metaphor, he attempted to convey the significance of
landscape: that which not only fundamentally sustained them, but lived inside each
one of them through their minds and memories, and in their social and ceremonial
25 In this short paragraph, as with other governmental publications and ecclesiastical
documents of the time, "tribe" has a different connotation, not the contemporary legal definition. It
was used loosely to refer to any social grouping of American Indians and was considered synonymous
with terms like"band" or "nation."
lives. It lived through their stories, songs, and ceremonies.
That descendants of the Red Fish People still have a strong emotional
attachment for these places is revealed in the language they use to speak about it.
The legendary bounty of Fish Lake and the Hightop Plateau continues to possess
poignant meaning to descendants who are now physically removed from that
"garden." It inspired one of the descendants of the Red Fish People to say that it
makes her feel "like an Indian. When you're an Indian, it's good to be close to a
mountain" (Louise Bushhead 1995).
That there was a distinctive appearance of Indians who resided in the Rabbit
Valley landscape was apparent to a Mormon peace-making party who arrived in the
region in 1873 (Snow 1985:6-9). Their purpose was to seek the permission of
Indians to allow settlement by Mormons and to survey plateau lands for establishment
of agricultural villages. When they arrived at Red Lake, the southern most
encampment in Rabbit Valley, they noticed a discemable difference in appearance
between the Indians present there and the rest in the region. However, they were not
explicit about these differences. While only speculative, the differences could be
accounted for by the influx of members of other bands to the Valley as part of the
effort to resist by warfare the adverse impacts of Mormon settlement upon traditional
subsistence practices. By 1873, under the leadership of Black Hawk, individual
Indians from around the state, but particularly the Sheberetch to the east, had made
the enclave of Red Lake their staging area for the Black Hawk War. Likely the
Indians residing at the encampment at the time the peace-making party met them
were representatives from the Sheberetches predominantly. That Utah Indians
differed in appearance depending upon the region traveled to was not lost on
Dominguez and Escalante who in 1776 named some of the Utah Indians they
encountered by observable cultural traits.
While the specific internal processes for determining membership are lost to
us, members of other Numic communities recognized the existence of the Red Fish
People. A member of the Kaibab community and consultant to anthropologist Isabel
Kelly in the 1930's knew of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u'vutseng; however, she referred to
them as "Fish People" or Pagiv (Kelly 1964:144). Sometimes the names used by
other groups would not refer to their primary food source, but to features of their
topography. Some from the Uintah Reservation referred to the Rabbit Valley Indians
who spent their late spring and summer months on the Hightop Plateau as the
Moanuche, that is, those who dwelled in the "high places" or on "mountain passes"
(Callaway et al. 1986:365; Duncan 1997). Some referred to them as Uintah which
means "Water Edge People" likely referring to the shores of Fish Lake (Callaway et
al. 1986:340,366). Julian Steward (1938:225,228) obtained the name of "Fish Ute"
for the Rabbit Valley Indians who were seen at Fish Lake during the summer. His
source for this information was the nineteenth century publications of the Annual
Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
A Glimpse of Ungkaw 'pawguh 'u vutseng Life
When I asked descendants (Charles 1997a, 1997b; Timican 1997) how they
would describe what was meaningful about their ancestors' existence when Mormons
arrived in the Capitol Region (1870s), they recalled stories about the good times,
celebrations, what it felt like to be at Fish Lake, and the abundant food and other
resources in their territory. Fish Lake was described as a metaphorical "garden"
which required no sowing or cultivating like the Mormon "gardens" or fields, only
reaping (Kanosh 1983). The first recollections of one of the descendants (Timican
1997) was a gathering of "a whole bunch of Indians doing all kinds of games" at a
place near present-day Lyman, Utah. They did not characterize their ancestors lives
by mode of subsistence.
What follows, then, are categories I have deemed important for purposes of
the thesis. I have chosen to focus upon the transhumant hunting and gathering and
socio-political organization of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng to illustrate their
economic and political autonomy, yet interdependence with neighbors. I also have
chosen to provide information about their celebrations and ceremonies to convey a
sense of the symbolic dimensions of their lives as well. Following a brief summary
of their seasonal rounds and social and ceremonial interaction are anthropological
understandings of the phenomena described.
While archaeologists, linguists, and cultural anthropologists sometimes
disagree about the origins of the ancestors to the Red Fish People (Madsen and
Rhodes 1994), archaeological evidence seems to suggest that the ancestors of the
Ungkaw'pawguhu vutseng arrived in the Capitol Reef region around A.D. 1210
(Tipps 1991). As discussed earlier, the descendants of the Red Fish People say they
were brought to life in their traditional homelands (which includes the project area)
by Coyote or Wolf (Charles 195; Martineau 1992:22-24; Sapir 1930-1931:358).
The continuity of the "Red Fish" identity, however, is uncertain. As it is
described in the thesis, both oral and written histories indicate that it was in existence
at the time the settlers arrived in the region. But how far back in time it extended is
The Red Fish People were hunters and gatherers. Their traditional territory
encompassed a diversity of life zones including mountain plateaus and valleys,
piny on and juniper forests, and the more arid desert shrub lands and canyon lowlands
of Capitol Reef National Park. Florence Kanosh, bom in 1889 at Fish Lake, said "we
lived everywhere" (Kanosh 1983).
Winter residence for the Red Fish People was dispersed throughout the
twenty-five mile long Rabbit Valley. At least three specific locales are known from
the oral tradition of the indigenous and Anglo descendants. The vicinities of Loa,
Bicknell, and Lyman contained concentrations of Indians, to which family clusters
would repeatedly return in the late fall or early winter (Figure 2.1). These are the
very places newcomers chose to make their permanent residence and why Rabbit
Valley Indians had to be relocated. Red Fish People were moved at least once within
the Valley, later removed to Koosharem, and re-settled again in association with
Mormon communities throughout the state (Blackburn 1946; Campbell and Timican
1995; Charles 1995,1997a,b; Jackson and Jackson 1997; Kanosh 1983; Martineau
1992:189; Pikyavit 1995; Timican 1995).
Winter in the Valley was spent living on stored animal and plant foods,
prepared primarily from the summer harvest at Fish Lake, but also included foods
gleaned from the diverse topography of valley, plateaus, and lowlands or canyon
lands in the spring, summer, and fall. Winter stores were supplemented by trips to the
nearby desert (Capitol Reef National Park) to obtain small game, like lizards and
rabbits, and seed grasses. If winter snow was not too deep on the plateaus
surrounding Rabbit Valley, the hunting of ungulates, particularly deer, would
continue through the winter. If snowfall permitted passage back to the Hightop
Plateau where Fish Lake was located, fish would be caught through the ice. Ice-
fishing was reported upon almost thirty years after settlement of the Valley and I
cannot be certain it occurred prior to contact or resulted from the depletion of food
sources induced from settlement (Charles 1995; 1997a,b; Kanosh 1983; Will
In early spring, Indians were seen by various newcomers "in the lowlands
digging thistle roots" (Bean 1940). At this time of year, women would harvest
willow canes along the Fremont River. The intent was to collect the canes before the
sap rose. From these, baskets would be made to assist with the collection and
preparation of all types of food. Spring-ripening seed grasses would be gathered, too,
in Rabbit Valley, on the lower elevations of the plateaus, and in the canyon lands of
Capitol Reef National Park. Dellenbaugh and Thompson, two members of John
Wesley Powells second expedition down the Colorado River, met two to three
families at the lower elevations of the Aquarius Plateau (Boulder Mountain) in May
or June gathering grass seeds along Pleasant Creek, just outside Capitol Reef National
Park (Callahan n.d.:106; Charles 1997a; Dellenbaugh 1991 : 195-214).
Late spring would signal the migration of some family groups in Rabbit
Valley to Fish Lake, a five mile long and one mile wide lake on the Hightop Plateau
in the heart of the Canadian Life Zone of spruce, fir, and mountain sagebrush.
Florence Kanosh was bom at Fish Lake in 1889 (Martineau 1992:296). She was part
of a group of families who made their fall and winter residence at Loa in Rabbit
Valley and would routinely return to Fish Lake for spring and summer. Kanosh
(1983) referred to Fish Lake as a".. .big garden... [it] was our main hunting ground
where we [would] gather food supplies for winter use." Fish (cutthroat trout) were
the mainstay and likely the most abundant food resource. The Numic word
Pawguh uts is the general name for fish. Trout, however, was called
Ungkaw pawguh u vutseng which means, literally, "red fish," after the color of its
meat (Martineau 1992:133-134).
During spring and summer, other animal and plant produce was gleaned from
Fish Lake and the Hightop Plateau with the primary intent of preparing food for
winter storage. Plants like wild potatoes, Kooshauls or clover root, onions, and seeds
were collected. Ducks and their eggs, woodchuck, deer, and bighorn sheep were
hunted. Fish Lake was not the only place teeming with fish and certainly not the only
place fish were harvested. It was but one location in the larger plateau topography of
lakes, rivers, and streams which generously yielded aquatic creatures. Other places
included the multitude of plateau lakes, the Fremont River, as well as tributaries to
the Fremont located on the Aquarius Plateau and Thousand Lake Mountain. Some of
these transect Capitol Reef National Park including Pleasant and Oak Creeks
(Blackburn 1940 or 1946; Campbell and Timican 1995; Charles 1995; Kanosh 1983;
Spring and summer were times of the year when animals and plants were
collected from Rabbit Valley, too.. Local Indians customarily caught fish in the
Fremont River. Animals hunted included ducks and their eggs, prairie dogs, sage
hens which were hunted from blinds in the valley, and rabbits which were
communally hunted. Though indigenous descendants know that plants were gathered
in Rabbit Valley, they can no longer recall which those were. One Mormon
immigrant remembered that seeds from Mares Tail were gathered (Bushhead 1995;
Callahan n.d.:l-2-104; Campbell and Timican 1995; Charles 1995; Euler 1966:31;
Kanosh 1983; Martineau 1992T29; Pickyavit 1997; Timican 1995).
Fall brought opportunities to reap distinctively different produce which would
yet again require relocation of camps. According to Jimmy Timcan recalling his
youth in the late 1800s, the group of families to which he belonged made their yearly
migration from Fish Lake, traveled due east through the canyon and scrub lands of
Capitol Reef National Park to the Henry Mountains. After harvesting the monsoon-
ripening seed grasses, they traveled back across the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef
to the south side of the Aquarius Plateau (Boulder Mountain) with the intent of
harvesting the food waiting to be gleaned there and in the plateau valleys. Pine nuts
along with berries were gathered and animals like deer hunted. Some groups returned
to Rabbit Valley to gather berries along the Fremont River and communally hunted
animals there and on the surrounding plateaus (Kanosh 1983; Martineau 1992:156,
Robinson 1996; Timican 1995). Among the animals hunted communally in the fall
on the plateaus were antelope, rabbit, and deer, fattened from spring and summer
florescence. Men, not women, gathered together to hunt these animals. Women, on
the other hand, prepared the meat for immediate and long-term consumption (Charles
1997a; Martineau 1992:181; Pikyavit 1995; Timican 1997).
As predictable as seasonal produce and locales for camping, so were the
occasions when people gathered together to celebrate and do ceremonies. Coming
together afforded the opportunity to renew informal bonds of friendship and family
relationships between and among groups who had not seen one another for a while
(Conetah 1982:2; Gottfredson 1919:344; Ute Mountain Ute Tribe 1986:2). Another
important purpose of these festivals was to make arrangements for alliances and to
ensure that cousins, considered four generations deep, would not marry one another
(Jake in Sucec 1996:67).
Special events were tethered to seasonal food collecting. Bear Dances
traditionally happened before the separation of families in spring (Jefferson 1972:70-
71). The Rabbit Valley people had the Bear Dance and it was customarily danced
until March. Tom Quakanab, a former resident of the Antarianunts in the Henry
Mountains and bom there about 1814 (Martineau 1992:293), migrated to Rabbit
Valley. He claims to have learned the Bear Dance from the northern Uintah and
introduced it to the Kaibab and Rabbit Valley Indians (Kelly 1964:108).
With so many families gathered at Fish Lake, during the summer months
celebrations occured. Louise Bushhead (1995) and Ralph "Red Cloud" Pikyavit
(1995) recall their parents telling them circle dances were held at Fish Lake. This
dance was variously referred to as the "Circle," "Round," "Harvest," "Pine nut,"
"Rabbit," or "Squaw" Dance (Kelly and Fowler 1986:384). Circle dances were
performed at any time of the year. Many of the names for this dance suggest that it
was often tied to seasonal harvesting. Horse racing, too, took place at Fish Lake
during the summer gatherings (Timican 1995). According to a descendant of the
"Indian Bishop" appointed to take care of the Indians at the turn of the century, social
celebrations often included dancing, singing, horse racing, and feasting (Hatch 1996).
"Powwows" or celebrations were held in Rabbit Valley, too. One routinely
occured near the present town of Bicknell. Historically, the locale was referred to as
"Red Lake." Lyman, another fall and winter encampment, hosted a powwow. At
the fall event, the powwow was preceded by an extended trading session with
Navajos. Once that was completed, dancing, singing, and gambling began (Callahan
n.d.:105; Sorenson 1997). The event at Red Lake was attended by Indians throughout
the region and also included singing, dancing, and gambling. Hand games like the
"bone game" were played for wagers of property (Timican 1997).
Just as regional Indians attended social events at Fish Lake and Rabbit Valley,
so, too, did these Indians travel to near and distant enclaves of other communities in
Utah like Blanding, Navajo Mountain, Escalante, and Ft. Duchesne to attend
celebrations and ceremonies. Rosie Quakanab Timican (Figure 2.3), a former
resident of the Henry Mountain Antarianunts, relayed that her people had
"messengers" who would take trails to other Indian enclaves and announce when
celebrations or ceremonies would be held (Stewart 1942:321).
Social intercourse with communities of regional Indians was a frequent
occurrence. The plenitude of flora and fauna at Fish Lake and the Hightop Plateau
invited regional participation in the harvest of these resources. Among the outsiders 26
26 "Red Lake" was destroyed as a result of settlement-related development. It was inundated
with silt when the Forsyth Reservoir dam broke in the early 1920s. What was once "Red Lake" is now
"Bicknell Bottoms," a wetlands environment adjacent to the town of Bicknell. Only the old-timers in
the Valley remember Red Lake and can recall the events which caused its demise. For a long time, its
location was obscure until elder Anglo residents were queried about it.
Figure 2.3. Photograph of Rosie Quakanab Timican taken by Omer Stewart (1942).
(not members of the Red Fish People) who would attend were the Pahvant from
western Utah, the Kaibab from northern Arizona, and the Uintah from northern Utah
(Conetah 1982:24; Jake in Sucec 1996:66; Jackson and Jackson 1997). Regional
Indians would attend each others ceremonies and powwows. Resources would be
harvested both in the commons and in the territories of other communities and the
hospitality was reciprocated. For example, the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng shared the
fall harvesting of the Aquarius Plateau with the Escalante Indians (Sanwawitimpaya).
In the spring, they would travel across the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef to gather
ripening seed grasses in the Henry Mountains, the territory of the Antarianunts
(Kanosh in Martineau 1992:189; Timican in Will 1968:41-42). Men from different
communities would join together to conduct fall hunting on the plateaus (Martineau
1992:48-49; Timican in Will 1968:41-42). The exchange of ideas, like the Bear
Dance, and goods was a routine occurrence. The trail system, like a netted web
superimposed over the regional landscape, facilitated commerce, visiting, and
Social and Economic Organization
Euroamerican visitors would observe several families traveling together at
about the time of contact. While documentation of these family clusters are few for
this study and hardly constitute a statistically significant sample, a pattern exists
nevertheless. For example, when General Snow of the Mormon militia (referred to as
the Navoo Legion) engaged a group of Indians at Red Lake in 1865, Pogoneab, the
headman for fish distribution at Fish Lake, would later tell Wayne County settlers that
the group consisted of 16 men and women including himself. While he omits
reference to children, it is likely they were there (entry for 1865, Sevier Stake
Manuscript History). Thompson and Dellenbaugh encountered a cluster of families
in May or June of 1872 just west of the boundary of Capitol Reef National Park. The
exploring party documented a group of approximately 22 individuals women, men,
at least one old man, and children -- gathering seeds, fishing, and likely hunting
(Dellenbaugh 1991:203-205). In 1873 at Grass Valley due west of Rabbit
Valley, the Mormons who spent their first winter there remember "three to four
bands" camped there, too (Bean 1940). An elder Koosharem reminisced to her niece
about growing up in Rabbit Valley before the settlers came in 1874. She told of
living the winter there with ".. .my dad's family and their aunts and uncles and.. .six
other families" (Charles 1995; 1997a,b).
These groups of families were variously referred to by local Euroamerican
observers as "colonies," "small bands," "bands," "encampments," "camps," "groups,"
and "lodges." Peter Gottffedson (1919: 18 inset), a chronicler of Indian depredations
in Utah, recalls that a late nineteenth century "lodge" of Indians around Manti, Utah,
contained from 4-10 Indians, young and old in each lodge. This suggests that a
"lodge" was an extended family unit.
The 1880 Indian census of Rabbit and Grass Valleys suggests that the average
number of individuals within a family unit was about six. Extended family
relationships like grandparents and in-laws were included within one family unit.
The census enumerated seven families (40 individuals) living in Rabbit Valley and 12
families (75 individuals) living at Grass Valley. Extrapolating from the census data,
the group that Dellenbaugh and Thompson met comprised likely three to four families
or about 22 individuals with a hypothesized six in each family. The group that
General Snow met at Red Lake in 1875 could have consisted of two to three families
with a total of at least 16 individuals. The "three to four bands" of Indians encamped
in Grass Valley the winter of 1873 likely would have been three to four family
clusters with possibly from two to 20 families in each (approximately 12-80
individuals) (Kelly and Fowler 1986:352-353). The winter "band" at Loa consisted
of seven families. The number of families, then, joined together could range from a
few to as many as 20. From the examples above, it appears as if these clusters or
"bands" ranged from two to seven families in each.
Anthropologists have their own referents for the phenomenon of a cluster of
families. They variously have been called "kin units or demes," "kin cliques,"
"economic clusters," "households," "politically independent groups," "local groups,"
"co-residence groups," "corporate groups," and/or "bands" (Callaway 1986:353;
Fowler 1966; Kelly 1964:142; Kelly and Fowler 1986:380; Steward 1938:181; and
Wolf 1990:89).27 "Kin units" refer to those families related through marriage, by
blood, or Actively, and can include offspring. It is entirely possible that these local
groups consisted of more than just kin; individuals who were friends, those who had
no kin ties, and perhaps migrants from other groups might have been included. A
mixed group of this sort is known as a "co-residence" or "corporate" group by
anthropologists. Each term or phrase focuses upon an aspect of the multiple levels at
which these family groups operated. That is, they were simultaneously kin-based
social groups, that performed economic functions, and acted as politically
Eric Wolf (1990:91-92) sees the social and economic nature of family clusters
as inextricably woven. It is impossible to speak about one without alluding to the
other. The social group, based primarily upon kinship, is the same group which
performs the labor to procure the resources necessary to sustain lives. For Wolf,
bonds of kinship are "a way of committing social labor to the transformation of
27 In anthropology, the word "band" has restricted meaning. Julian Steward (1938:181)
defines a "band" as "members" who "must habitually have cooperated in a sufficient number of
economic and social activities under a central control to have acquired a sense of community of
interest." By implication, "members" would have consisted of multiple family clusters joining together
for a common economic purpose and controlled by a polity. Insufficient data exists for this study to
determine whether Steward's definition of "band" is applicable to the Indians who lived west of Capitol
Reef National Park. And it is dangerous to speculate with such a paucity of data. Irrespective of
Steward's intended use of the word, employment of the term "band" was obviously common parlance
during the late nineteenth century, long before Julian Steward delimited its meaning in anthropology.
For example, "band" and "tribe" are used synonymously and interchangeably in the Annual Report of
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (ARCIA) from the nineteenth century. In historical documents,
including diaries, reminiscences, and governmental papers, "band" more flexibly refers to indigenous
groups joined together for a common purpose.
nature" (1990:91). Wolf goes so far as to say that kinship ensures labor is available
for survival, it "lays claims to labor" (1990:91) By implication, the way in which
society constructs or symbolizes relationship categories like "consanguines" and
"affines" is a function of, if not in part determined by, the need to ensure survival. It
is certainly easier to wrest resources to sustain life through a group symbolically
designated to have obligations towards one another than to individually wrest the
necessities of life.
Embedded within "economic cluster" are both the social and economic
dimensions to which Wolf speaks. However, the use of the phrase inadvertently
limits our vision of communities solely to their environmental adaptation to the
exclusion of other social and symbolic dimensions of their lives. This is a significant
concern given that these dimensions constitute identity, according to Barth. That
concern aside, the meaning of it provides insight into the organization and
functioning of these family clusters. Two Great Basin anthropologists, Isabel Kelly
and Catherine Fowler, employed it as a result of their extensive fieldwork among
Paiute and Ute peoples (Kelly and Fowler 1986:380; Callaway et al. 1986:352-353).
According to Kelly and Fowler, "economic clusters" consisted of from one or
two to as many as 10 to 20 households of nuclear or extended families. They were
dispersed and mobile. They traveled together throughout the year, provided mutual
aid, and collaborated in hunting and gathering activities at different locations. They
were most likely related by kinship, but others could be included. While they would
make seasonal rounds, they would have "recurrent residence in at least one fixed
area" (Kelly and Fowler 1986:380). Rhode Campbell (1995), a second-generation
Koosharem descendant of someone who lived in Rabbit Valley at time of contact,
tells us, "[Indians]... mov[ed] their land to someplace and then move[d] back to the
same place again."
The political dimensions of the lives of Rabbit Valley Indians were girded to
the family cluster. Headmen or leaders would advise a group of families in the
movement of subsistence camps, lead hunting and/or gathering activities including
cooperative ventures with other clusters, and negotiate with outsiders that included
other family groups, other Indian communities, Mormons, and governmental
representatives. A male individual usually achieved status of headman through his
skills and abilities in these endeavors (Kelly and Fowler 1986:380-381). Ne-ab is a
name that was given to a headman by the local Indians (Misson Notebook of Mosiah
Stephen Behunin 1875:5). Sincepogo orpagu means "fish," then Pogoneab's name
would translate to "fish leader."
Sometimes family clusters might combine their labor to take advantage of
seasonally available food sources. According to Wolf (1990:92), these temporary
events of "pooled social labor," followed by dispersion, would have been coordinated
or managed by a special headman or "boss" and dictated by environmental
circumstances and available technology. In the territory of the Rabbit Valley Indians
harvesting certain food sources sometimes required the efforts of more than one
family cluster. For example, at Fish Lake the "fish" leader, Pogoneab, directed the
activities of many family groups in harvesting the fish and distributed the catch to the
resident families. The extraordinary abundance of fish, for that matter of all wildlife
on the plateau, dictated collaboration. Short-term camps shifted to a long-term
summer encampment with logistical forays from that residential base. The abundance
of food and the opportunities to enjoy the company of relatives and friends who had
not seen each other for a while and to secure marriage relationships caused family
groups from all over the region to come to Fish Lake (Bushhead 1995; Charles 1995;
Jake in Sucec 1996:66; Kanosh, 1983; Martineau 1992:156; Pikyavit 1995). Florence
Kanosh, who was bom at Fish Lake about 1889, reminisced about Pogoneab:
His name was fish chief or boss.. .Indians use to make basket out of
willow and then hold it under the falls and fish would fall into it, and
there was lots of Indians sitting around in circle, and after they get the
basket full they would pull it out and dump it. Gave each person two
fish at a time and men use to kill the fish by biting the heads off fish
till the fish were gone. And do the same thing over and over until the
people get what they needed for winter use. It was given to Indians by
the Fish Chief (Kanosh 1983). 28
28 Fish Lake was on the route of the Spanish Trail. Euroamerican sojourners would comment
upon the abundance of wildlife on the Plateau. Fish Lake was referred to as "swarming with fish," and
it was said that "large trout go up these streams to spawn, and any person can throw them out with his
hands" (Brewerton in Hafen and Hafen 1993 :331; Woodruff in Sevier Stake Manuscript
History). "Deer" on the Hightop Plateau were referred to as being "...nearly as plentiful as the fish"
Pogoneab must have also coordinated the fishing that would have occurred in
and around the lake environment. Methods for harvesting varied with the bodies of
water being fished. Techniques ranged from the use of willow traps at falls, arrow
points later made of steel and spears in still water, and creating a dam in a stream and
using hands or clubs to reap the fish (Smith 1974:61-63). While family clusters came
from throughout the region, at least eight family groups with headmen from Rabbit
Valley regularly returned to Fish Lake in the spring to partake in these activities.
Another example of an activity which required pooled labor was the annual
antelope drive. When antelope were fattened from the spring and summer
florescence, a communal fall hunt for antelope would occur at a game drive site on
the plateau skirting Rabbit Valley. The event was directed by a headman with a few
family clusters needed to supply the personnel to scare the fleeing antelope, and to
station the blinds from which to shoot them. The women were needed to process the
meat from the event. As many as 200 antelope were driven into a trap in northern
Utah (Smith 1974:55-56).
Hunting forays for ungulates like deer sometimes entailed the cooperation of
several family clusters. While men would join together under the direction of a boss,
the women and children would stay behind in an encampment in the vicinity of a
hunting locale like Thousand Lake Mountain, a high plateau to the north of Rabbit
Valley and bordering Capitol Reef National Park (Martineau 1992:48-49; Kanosh
1983). Other activities that would have required a headman or boss were pinyon nut
harvesting and rabbit drives. However, no details exist in the oral and written
traditions of these activities in Rabbit Valley.
When Euroamerican visitors met aggregated families of Indians before the
area was settled, they usually interacted with the headman. When Dellenbaugh and
Thompson met the band of Indians just beyond the borders of Capitol Reef, it was the
"chief' who gave them directions to the Henry Mountains and the Colorado River
(Dellenbaugh 1991 :205). In 1873, the reconnaissance and peace-making party
of Bean, Thurber, Pace, and Tabiona, escorted by Pogoneab, the headman of Fish
Lake, met a group of Indians at Red Lake, in the southern part of Rabbit Valley.
They engaged in a discourse with the headman, Angewetimpi (Gottfredson 1919:329;
Snow 1985:8). A local Wayne County resident, Howard Blackburn,
reminisced about Rabbit Valley in 1879. He recalled that there were "many Indians
in the vicinity of Loa with each small band having a chief' (Blackburn 1946). The
bands Blackburn referred to were likely several clusters of coalesced families, each
with a headman.
Euroamericans who encountered these individuals usually designated them
"chiefs." "Chief' was the title customarily bestowed by Anglos upon a native person
"in a position to forward or to hinder their interests" (Wolf 1990:96). Members of the
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also referred to as "Mormons") were no exception.
They appointed "chiefs" among the Paiutes who accommodated the colonization
process. Rewards would be made to these appointed leaders (Holt 1992:12). For
example, settlers built homes in their communities for those chiefs who showed their
allegiance to the colonizers (Gottfredson 1919:49).
Eric Wolf discusses how headmen or chiefs could break out of the constraints
of kinship which acted, along with environmental considerations, to limit individual
power. He says that contact with groups who were operating out of the tributary or
capitalist modes-of-production could increase the importance of headmen who were
enterprising and able to deal with differential interests and potential conflicts.
Contact with tributary or capitalist societies afforded opportunities to gain access to
other resources and to use these resources to "immobilize the kin-order," to command
labor, and to influence inter-group relationships. Wolf says this is why chiefs proved
to be "notorious" collaborators with slave hunters and fur trappers (1990:96).
Families and family clusters were egalitarian. That is, one social unit did not
politically dominate others. Family groups advised by headmen were essentially
autonomous and equivalent. John Wesley Powell (1873:49), who conducted
intermittent ethnographic work among the Paiute and Ute from 1868 to 1880,
observed that family groups represented the political unit of organization and were
essentially independent from one another. The Comaroffs refer to this phenomenon
as "symmetrical relations between structurally similar groups" (1992:54).
While the relationships of family groups were egalitarian and autonomous,
simultaneously they maintained a "complementary interdependence (John and Jean
Comaroff 1992:54). As discussed earlier, certain plant and animal food resources
could be procured in the domain of neighboring communities and this custom was
reciprocated. Because crops like pinyon nuts are not annually productive, the
development of reciprocal use agreements would act to offset the unreliability of such
resources (Bunte and Franklin 1987:10). Neighbors were sources for marriage
partners which strengthened alliances. Seasonal celebrations and ceremonies
surrounding them were occasions when more than one community -- likely several
regional groups attended. Exchanges of ideas and goods occured among and
between neighbors, near and distant.
The Red Fish People or Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng possessed a distinct
identity. How long this identity existed prior to contact is unknown. In the late
1800s, they possessed a consciousness as a group, a name for themselves, and an
origin story. They identified themselves by a defined territory and possessed an
emotional attachment to it. Surrounding neighbors and other regional Indians
recognized their separateness and differentiated them.
In addition to discussing the components of self-identity, I selectively chose
aspects of Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng life to illustrate their level of social
organization, as well as their economic and political autonomy. The Red Fish People
comprised a cluster of several families who cooperated in economic pursuits and
occasionally pooled their labor with other communities to take advantage of abundant
resources. However, they maintained their independence. None of these
communities appear to have dominated the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng. Political
control resided within the family clusters; there was no overarching political authority
which coalesced distinct regional communities. Headmen of the clusters would be
designated to direct subsistence activities and lead social events. Communities like
the Red Fish would frequently gather together with neighbors to celebrate and to
perform ceremonies, including the proper burial and commemoration of the deceased.
The purpose of this brief characterization of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng is to
arrive at a portrait, a snapshot image, with which to compare and contrast the way this
community was subsequently portrayed by Mormons, archaeologists, and cultural
anthropologists. These portraits are discussed in the following three chapters.
THE UNGKA W'PA WGUH'U VUTSENG BECOME
"LAMANITES":ETHNIC REPRESENTATION BY THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
This chapter and the two following discuss the ethnic identities constructed
for the Red Fish People by segments of the dominant society who encountered them
at time of settlement and while engaged in academic research concerning them. The
historical contexts and rationales for these representations are presented, along with
information about how these identities were experienced. Through an examination of
these processes, other outcomes of domination are revealed and briefly discussed.
Representations discussed in Chapters 3,4, and 5 are contrasted with the information
contained in Chapter 2.
The Mormon Church came to Utah with preconceived beliefs about the
religious identity of American Indians. These paternalistic beliefs essentially gave
members of the Church the authority to actively convert and culturally transform
them. This seemingly benign process effectively resulted in their political domination
and economic dependency.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Unlike the intrusion of the Spaniards into Utah for limited commercial
exploitation, members of the Mormon Church established permanent residence there.
The plateau valleys of the Capitol Reef region were among the last to be colonized,
some twenty years after the Mormons arrived in Salt Lake City in 1847. Stirrup-high
grasses and natural irrigation from the Fremont River made the fertile Rabbit Valley
suitable for establishing livestock and farming communities. Rabbit Valley was first
discovered by members of the Navoo Legion in pursuit of Black Hawk and his band
in the 1860s. The Black Hawk War was the most effective resistance against
colonization staged by Utah Indians. It held in abeyance for several years the
settlement of the region. However, in 1873 local Indians, including the Red Fish
People among other native communities, orally agreed to allow the Mormons to settle
in Rabbit Valley, Grass Valley and in valleys downcounty (to the east) of
Waterpocket Fold (Capitol Reef National Park). Settlement progressed rapidly.
Who were these Mormon colonizers? They were religious refugees who
chose to immigrate to and colonize the Great Basin in 1847 because of the political
persecution they experienced in the east and Midwest. The purpose of colonization in
a remote western province was to establish a regionally self-sufficient theocracy
isolated from the pressures to conform politically and economically to the dominant
society (Arrington 1993; Arrington and Bitton 1992).
Mormonism was a systematic theology and social movement based on a series
of divine revelations to Joseph Smith in 1830. Most if not all Mormons viewed their
religion as the fabric of their economic, political, and cultural lives. They believed in
a set of economic ideals based on religious precepts that would lead to financial self-
sufficiency, transform society, and build a millenarian kingdom for God on earth.
This particular blend of religious dogma and economy was variously referred to as
communitarianism or collectivism in sharp contrast with the individualism and
capitalism that had already pervaded mainstream nineteenth century America
The political and economic nature of the Church was interwoven with its
religious fabric. The theocracy was governed by divinely sanctioned officials of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The centralization of authority enabled
planning for the formidable task of resource development, that is, for the task of
"redeeming the earth" and "making the waste places blossom as a rose" for the
Kingdom on Earth (Arrington 1993:25). Property like land, water, and supplies were
allocated and regulated by the Church with individuals as stewards. Allocations,
including surpluses, were equitably distributed. Members of the LDS Church
supplied the labor necessary for this feat and did so willingly.
The participants in the sublime task of building the Kingdom were to
submit themselves to the direction of Gods leaders and to display a
willing cooperation.. .Cooperation meant that every mans labor was
subject to call by church authority to work under supervised direction
in a cause deemed essential to the prosperity of the Kingdom
No doubt a strong group solidarity and willing volunteerism was forged
through several factors. Foremost among these were the deeply held belief of
Christs second coming on earth, the coalescing factor of the political persecution
suffered by Mormons, and their economic ideal of cooperation. The Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints labored in villages, farms, and industries throughout the territory of
Utah. Their surplus was tithed to storehouses managed by the LDS Church. This
surplus was ^distributed in numerous ways at the discretionary authority of officials.
Some was allocated to members in greater need; some ensured the success of Church
industries; some to finance the costs of settlement; some reduced debts of the LDS
Church and its members; and some was allocated to nomadic Indians as a means to
influence and eventually convert them. Fundamentally and ideologically, all surplus
was subject to the use and benefit of the collective group. It was the well-being and
success of the collective and its endeavor that would facilitate the Millennium
(Arrington 1993; Arrington and Bitton 1992).
Historical Construction and Assignment
of "Lamanite" Identity
Mormon conceptions of the Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng were not a product of
direct contact with them, but rooted in biblical and nationalist ideologies which
rationalized the subjugation of American Indians in the territory of Utah. When the
Mormons arrived in Rabbit Valley, they brought with them a preconception of who
the Indians were that lived in their soon-to-be home. They were of the Lost Tribes of
Israel whose condition of savagery was caused by their sins.29 Through the civilizing
influence of Mormonism, they could be transfigured. However, the costs to Indians
like the Red Fish community were profound. In the course of being converted and
civilized, the Red Fish People would lose their land, their political and economic
autonomy, become economically dependent upon the Mormons, and have their
identity radically altered.
Whether or not Joseph Smith's revelations about the Lamanites in the 1830s
were divinely inspired, they were at least historically situated. That is, ideological
forces supported the co-optation of American Indians to facilitate the acquisition of
lands, population expansion, and resource development in the new nation-state.
During Smith's lifetime, the nascent nation viewed American Indians as variously
noble or primitive savages. United States' policy toward Indians was to remove them
as an obstacle to the "advance" of "White settlement" preferably by civilizing them
through assimilation (Prucha 1988:40). Simultaneously, a religious revitalization
movement, a component of a broader nationalist awakening, was unfolding in the
United States during the early 1800s and Smith's founding of Mormonism was a
product of that phenomenon. The missive from God was that American citizens were
chosen people, while Indians were savages needing redemption (McQuire 1992:232).
Christians (including Mormons) originally viewed the wilderness and the indigenous
29 The Mormons borrowed the concept of American Indians as the "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel"
from the Puritans (Albanese 1991:36).
residents who inhabited it as Satanic domain. Natives epitomized spiritual
degradation. They had forsaken Christ's teaching and required redemption (Albanese
1991). The conquering or taming of wilderness was part of the spiritual test for
Christians on the new frontier, as was the task of purifying the native souls who
The Saints, then, possessed a set of specific beliefs about American Indians
bom from a constellation of ideological forces, historically situated. As revealed to
Joseph Smith, the Indians, or "Lamanites" as the Mormons referred to them,
had once practiced an advanced form of Christianity, having been
taught its principles by Jesus Christ after his Crucifixion; but through
their "abominations and loss of belief," these early settlers [to the
continent] had eventually become "wild," "full of mischief,"
"loathsome," and "full of idleness." (Book of Mormon, specifically 1
Nephi 12:22-23; 2 Nephi 5:24, in Arrington and Bitton 1992:143)
By implication, as a result of their practices and losing their Christian beliefs,
their skin darkened. The mission of Mormons was to enable the Lamanites to know
God again through teaching and conversion. In fact, the purpose of the Book of
Mormon, according to an early revelation of Joseph Smith's, was to allow the
Lamanites to have access to the teachings and heritage of their early ancestors in
Israel (Peterson 1998). By restoring them to the precepts of Christ, they would soon
"become a white and delightsome people" (1830 version of the Book of Mormon in
Euler 1966:62). Another of Smith's revelations made the conversion of Lamanites a
precursor to the second coming of Christ to earth. If necessary, the Lamanites would
assist Mormons in ridding the earth of corruption and earthly "kingdoms" to prepare
for Christ's kingdom here. Gentiles who knew of these prophecies in the Midwest,
including the federal government, viewed these beliefs as threatening to their
existence and authority (Peterson 1998).
Because Mormons understood Lamanites were related by "blood and
heritage" (Peterson 1977:41), their policies towards them were conciliatory and
peaceful when contrasted with the policies of the United States government. At
places like Sand Creek in Colorado and Bear River in Idaho, Indians were hunted
down, mutilated, and massacred by representatives of the federal government. The
ultimate result in both cases, however, was conquest and domination.
The Experience of Lamanite Identity
While the Wayne County Saints knew the local indigenous residents to be
Lamanites, they were often referred to or lumped as "Indians." It appears as if little 30
30 A contemporary version ofthe Book of Mormon (Smith 1981:2 Nephi 30:6) has
been amended to read: "And then they shall rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them
from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many
generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people." It's
important to note that early Mormons were not the only people of European ancestry to equate
darkness with inequity or inferiority. As Europeans began their global colonization, they encountered
people who looked and acted differently. Interpretations of these differences seemed necessary and
were first religiously, then scientifically, justified. It was at this time that the modem concept of race
emerged (Omi and Winant 1994:61-64).
effort was made to learn how the Red Fish People named or conceived of themselves.
If they were sighted in a particular locale, a descriptor identifying that locale was
added. For example, Indians observed at Red Lake or Rabbit Valley became known
as the "Red Lake Indians," or the "Rabbit Valley Indians" (Snow 1985;
Sorenson 1997). This was true for ecclesiastical documents of the Mormon Church
including stake records, in personal diaries and recollections, and in speaking with
Mormon residents of Wayne County who were children growing up there in the late
1800s and early 1900s. When an elderly Mormon resident of Wayne County was
asked the name for the Indians she witnessed as a girl growing up, she replied that
"Indians.. .was their name" (Mulford 1996). Another replied that he did not recall
any special name for them, "they were just Indians" (Sorenson 1997).
A few settlers knew them to be "Paiute" and/or "Ute" people, a convention
that started to be employed by the federal government in the mid-nineteenth century.
A caricatured understanding of the difference existed. For example, "Paiute" meant
"water people," and "Ute" meant "mountain people" (Jackson and Jackson 1996). For
others, the "Ute" rode their horses and the "Paiute" ate them (Doug Chappell,
personal communication, 1997). Others who used the terms "Paiute" and "Ute" were
confused as to their meaning and, consequently, were not knowledgeable as to
whether members of the Red Fish People were either one. 31
31 Some Mormons knew them as Utes and others were certain they were Paiute (Hamblin in
Little 1971:96; Jackson and Jackson 1996; Koosharem Ward Historical Records, entry for 1879;
Perceptions of the Red Fish People, though variable, were generally negative.
In peacetime, some Mormon residents of Rabbit Valley perceived the basic nature of
local Indians as insolent. In his written recollections, one settler lamented that the
Red Fish People would not readily adopt farming as a means to support themselves.
He referred to them as having a "natural aversion to hard and extended effort"
(Callahan n.d.:104).32 The same individual, however, acknowledged that the Rabbit
Valley Indians were also "too proud to farm anyway" (n.d.:104). Recalling his
experiences with Wayne County Indians from 1892 through 1926, he complimented
the trustworthiness of Indians in the Valley, but he knew that others shared the belief
that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" (n.d.:106). Likely a contributing factor to
this bitter attitude was the knowledge that some of the Red Fish People were allies
with Black Hawk during the resistance. William Callahan concluded that Indians
would never be allowed to forget who they were. Indians were "not quite good
enough" and would never be assimilated (Callahan n.d.:101).
Settlers in the region also feared the Red Fish People because they knew some
Snow 1985; Wayne Stake Historical Records, entry for 1895). Two said the Red Fish People
were both (Hatch 1996; Jackson and Jackson 1996) and one said it "didn't matter," that they were
themselves, the Koosharem (Robinson 1996). As settlement progressed, the Red Fish People were
relocated to Grass Valley where they became members of the Koosharem. That is how Florence
Kanosh referred to herself and her family once transplanted to Grass Valley. She was clear they were
no longer Red Fish People but became Koosharem (Kanosh 1983).
32 The son of Florence Kanosh (Jimmy Timican) remembers "whites told us we would have to
learn to grow crops. But we had no machinery. And we did not now how to use it. Some.. .tried to
teach us, but it was very strange to us, and hard to learn, and then we were told we were lazy and did
not want to learn to work" (Timican cited in Will 1968:44)
of them had participated in the war Black Hawk and his followers waged against
settlement in Sevier Valley (Behunin n.d.; Snow 1985). During war, regional
settlers who suffered the loss of loved ones and livestock assigned diabolic attributes
to the resisters, highlighting their dark skin color and character. They were variously
referred to as "redskins," "dusky," "copper-colored assailant," "copper-colored
warriors," "black neck[ed]," "black imps," and "dusky marauders" (Gottfredson 1919:
54, 66, 68, 77, 177, 204, 220). They were characterized as "cruel savages,"
"insolent," "nefarious," "serpent[s],M "fiend incarnate," "saucy and impudent," and
"blood-thirsty" (Gottfredson 1919:15,27,67,73,86,141).
The color of skin possessed by local Indians was rarely if ever forgotten by
the newcomers. Ecclesiastical documents referred to Indians as the "red man"
(Wayne Stake Historical Records and Minutes). The descendant of one of the Red
Fish People who lived in Rabbit Valley (Loa) before settlement recalls going to
Church on Sunday and being repeatedly told that if she was a diligent student of the
Mormon faith and prayed regularly to God, she would "become white and
delightsome" (Vera Charles, personal communication, 1997).33
Mormons treated local Indians patemalistically. Characterized as
benevolence, appointed missionaries were to "exercise a fatherly care over the
33 For this and other reasons, Vera Charles recalls that she eventually discontinued attendance
at church. She also remembers Indians were required to sit in the back of the chapel and were not
allowed to sit with non-Indians.
Indians" (Koosharem Ward Historical Records and Minutes, entry of 1897). Plans
were made for the rehabilitation and complete transformation of the local Lamanites,
a transformation that was to erase not only their identities, but the color of their skin.
Efforts were directed toward converting them. An "Indian bishop," Erastus Sorensen,
was appointed as their "caretaker." They were instructed in the Mormon faith,
attending Church and Sunday school (Statements of Matilda Sorensen Taylor n.d. and
Erastus Sorensen n.d.). They were baptized in the Fremont River (Charles 1997a),
and given Christian names.
When the Indians were baptized they were given a Christian [sic]
name by which they were usually known among the white people.
This particularly applied among the squaws so we had Sally and Mary,
Nancy and Jane, etc. Some of the buck Indians took Christian [sic]
names, but some of them retained their own Indian name if they were
pronounceable by the whites (Callahan n.d.:99-100).
Incentives were offered to local Indians for cooperative behavior. These included the
ability to stay in the region in lieu of being sent to the Uintah Reservation, food
provisions, and access to rights of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints including Temple privileges and Endowments (Bean 1940; Sevier
Stake Historical Records, entry for August 19, 1987).34 The enticement of food likely
increased in value as customary hunting and gathering practices were discouraged
and access to traditional food sources circumscribed by the development of town
34 One of the descendents of the Red Fish People said that Indians were willing to cooperate
with Mormons as long as it meant they could stay in their homeland and avoid being sent to a
sites, farmland, and grazing livestock.
In addition to losing their individual and collective identities, the
Ungkaw'pawguh'u vutseng progressively lost their autonomy, politically and
economically. Sustaining themselves became problematic when their means for doing
so was severely restricted and, in some cases, completely prohibited. They were to
learn to farm and cease their migratory rounds. Food, as necessary, would be
disbursed from the tithing storehouse. However, the land base at an enclave like
Grass Valley was insufficient for those who lived there. Indigenous residents were
dependent upon the Mormons for equipment, supplies, and assistance which could
not readily be rendered. The higher altitude farming at Grass Valley was challenging
and precarious even for those skilled in the endeavor and the needs of local Indians
were often placed secondary to ensuring the survival of Mormon farms. In Rabbit
Valley, Indians farmed on poor land and assistance was provided when Mormon
farmers could spare the time and the equipment. While the adoption of farming by
local Indians seemed theoretically plausible, in reality it could not succeed.
Ecclesiastical officials set conditions for allowing the Red Fish People to
remain in their homeland, albeit a significantly reduced portion of it. They were to
.. .assimilate the conduct of their "Mormon" friends, quit their begging
and farm industriously, fence their farms, build houses, raise horses,
cattle, hogs, sheep, etc., make gardens, go to meetings on the Sabbath
day, send their children to the District School and to the Sabbath
reservation (Vera Charles, personal communication, 1997).
school, and become independent and sustain themselves (Gottfredson
Indians in the state of Utah had been set up to beg as a consequence of
Brigham Young's policy that it was "cheaper to feed the Indians, not fight them"
(Arrington and Bitton 1992:148; Gottfredson 1919:5). Indians like the Red Fish
People understood the strategic importance of begging, particularly when their ability
to practice traditional subsistence was being limited. However, as this passage
illustrates, they were ultimately shamed for it.
Eventually, the Koosharem enclave became economically dependent upon
Mormon settlers. When the Mormons were eventually forced into the cash economy
by federal legislation, the Koosharem became increasingly impoverished. All
eventually moved away to larger communities and became employed as migrant
laborers with local farmers (Holt 1992). Still, they remained economically dependent
upon the Mormon Church and later the federal government.
Contrasting this Representation with
the Pre-Existing Reality
Several names were applied by the religious newcomers to local indigene,
including "Indian," "Paiute," and "Ute." The name, however, with an elaborate
system of meaning for the Mormons and consequences for the Red Fish People was
that of "Lamanite." It was a label completely foreign to the Red Fish People. It
became a symbol that legitimated control by Mormons, justified the negation of
privileges enjoyed by the Red Fish People, and inculcated a sense of shame among
some of the Indians. In the 1930s, Frank Beckwith, the publisher of the Millard
County newspaper, befriended an Indian elder by the name of Joe Pikyavit who
would frequently visit.
One day Joe was in my office; he was under some constraint a
settled something on his mind. In due time it came to the surface:
"Beckwith, I know, you told me you not Mormon. But am I cursed
with Lamanite dark skin? a curse? -an evil? Joe felt hurt. He
referred his troubles to me. As a non-Mormon, he wished the views of
an outsider (Beckwith 1939:46).
The adverse effects of Mormon colonization were extensive. The personal
and collective names of the Ungkaw'pcrwguh'u vutseng were changed. The
generalized identity of Lamanite enfolded them into a larger category of meaning
which suppressed knowledge of the particularities of their lives as outlined in Chapter
2. Only glimpses of their existence can be seen in very brief written accounts like
those of William Callahan (n.d.). They were essentially forced to quit their traditional
subsistence practices for agriculture or risk being forced to live on the Uintah
Reservation. The Red Fish People were asked to adopt a new system of beliefs and
practices which resulted in many of their own being suppressed or forgotten. The few
remaining elders have lost detailed memories of their ancestors lives at time of
contact. What memories do exist of the homeland are almost negligible because they
have been so long away from those places. Not only did the Red Fish community
lose the ability to exercise self-governance, independently sustain and name
themselves, choose their beliefs and customs, but they were made to feel shameful
about their heritage. Politically, economically, ideologically, and symbolically the
Mormons had effectively subjugated the Ungkaw pawguh u vutseng.
The Mormon ascription of Lamanite identity to American Indians was a
product of larger historical processes. These included imperial expansion, a
nationalistic religious revitalization movement, and Mormons own experience of
persecution from the emergent nation which resulted in their portrayal of Indians as
abetting relatives once converted. These circumstances legitimated Mormon control
of local Indians and resulted in the negation of rights on "civilizational grounds"
(John and Jean Comaroff 1992: 53). That is, "cruel savages" in a condition of sin
required reconciliation and assimilation. The tradition of "Lamanite" was
inaugurated, an identity that continues to be used by the LDS Church today.
THE UNGKA W'PA WGUH'U VUTSENG BECOME
"NUMIC HUNTERS AND GATHERERS": ETHNIC
REPRESENTATION BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS
Archaeologists in studying the prehistory of the Great Basin and northern
Colorado Plateau superposed a generic identity upon the Red Fish People: "Numic
hunters/gatherers" (or "foragers/collectors"). Below, the historical context, processes,
and rationale for this phenomenon are discussed, as well as how the identity is
experienced and the concomitant consequences of it. This identity is contrasted with
knowledge about the Ungkaw'pawguhuyutseng as outlined in Chapter 2.
Historical Construction and Assignment of Identity
This section provides a brief overview of the historical derivation, meaning,
and application of "Numic hunters and gatherers." The Red Fish People and their
ancestors by virtue of the language they spoke, their geographic location, their
mode of subsistence, the material they left in the ground, and the approximate time
that occurred were transformed into a larger, functionally specific typology. Here I
refer to this composite category as "Numic hunters and gatherers." However, various
other permutations of this particular nomenclature are used by archaeologists and
! linguists. These include "Numic-speaking groups.. .who followed a hunting and
gathering lifestyle" (Davis et al. 1997:13); "Late-Prehistoric hunter-gatherers"
(Janetski and Kreutzer 1997:5); "Late prehistoric groups following] an Archaic stage
lifestyle based on hunting and gathering" (Office of Public Archaeology 1996:12),
and so on.
It is important to understand the rationale for creating a taxonomic category
like "Numic hunters and gatherers." Some archaeologists wish to broadly theorize
about hunter/gatherer behavior. Great Basin archaeologists are interested in "how
aboriginal populations made use of natural resources in an environment.. .sometimes
harsh and often unpredictable, and how this shaped their activities" (Bettinger
1993:43). The focus is upon ecological constraints and adaptation (Bettinger and
Baumhoff 1982; Simms 1990). Others, however, are interested in constructing the
culture history of an area like the Capitol Reef region or in the state of Utah where the
Late-Prehistoric Period remains enigmatic to archaeologists (Davis 1997; Hauck
1991; Madsen and Rhode 1994; Office of Public Archaeology 1996). Naming
empirically similar assemblages facilitates regional as well as theoretical
archaeological research in both processes and history.
Mormons were settling into Rabbit Valley about the time the discipline of
archaeology became established in North America. Thenceforward to the early
1960s, archaeologists developed regional chronologies and cultural descriptions of
people from the material record.35 36 Julian Steward, who practiced as an archaeologist
in Utah (1931; 1933a and b; 1937;1941) and as a cultural anthropologist in the Great
Basin (1932; 1934; 1936; 1940) conducted three years of archaeological research in
northern Utah in addition to archaeological work in other parts of the state. Based
upon excavations at Promontory Cave on the northern end of Salt Lake, he
(1933a:20) was the first to speculate that an in-migration of "hostile, nomadic tribes"
forced the evacuation of farmers from the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau.
His conclusions were based upon the dramatic shifts in ceramics and basketry among
other artifacts. Steward assumed the new class of artifacts was created by a different
cultural community and that the process archaeologists refer to as "ethnic
replacement" (Bettinger 1993:55) had occurred.
While Steward did not name these nomads, they have subsequently become
referred to by archaeologists as some variation of Numic hunters and gatherers. In
1874 John Wesley Powell was the first to propose that" Numa" be applied to
nomadic peoples who speak the same language in the Great Basin.
This desolate land is the home of a great family of tribes speaking
different dialects.. .of the same stock. They call themselves Nu-mes,
Nu-intz, Nu-mas, Nu-mos, Shin-i-mos, Nu-nas, etc., all doubtless,
35 However, for some regions in the United States including Utah, regional chronologies are
still being constructed.
36 It is worth noting what is taken for granted here. In this context, "ethnic group" refers to a
culturally differentiated social grouping with artifact classes distinguishing the social unit chosen by
the researcher. Self-ascription is not among these.
variations of the same word. We will call them Nu-mas (Powell in
1874 cited in Fowler and Fowler 1971a:37).
The English word "Numa" has its origin in the Northern Paiute term nimi which
means "the people" (Fowler and Liljeblad 1986:463).
It was not until the 1950s that a linguist (Lamb 1958) postulated a scenario for
the phenomenon of indigenous Numic-speakers in the Great Basin. Lamb argued that
Numic languages had spread across the Intermountain West from a localized
southwestern portion of the Great Basin very recently, around one thousand years
ago. Lamb speculated that because the dialectal differences were so few among the
three branches of Numic languages and the area representative of these language
speakers so large that the expansion took place late in time and that".. .some kind of
common influence present in the Great Basin [drew] these people farther into it"
(1958:99). However, he defers to other disciplines or sub-fields of anthropology to
find the answer.
Archaeologists have not been in agreement as to the specific place of origin
for the Numic speakers. Some have proposed in situ development, others the
northern Great Basin, and some the southeastern Great Basin (Sutton and Rhode
1994:10-11). The archaeological discourse concerning origins does not consider or
report the origin stories of contemporary descendants. A contract archaeologist
(Davis et al.1997:13) recently conducted some excavation in Capitol Reef National
Park. In his report, he referred to the origins of the "Numic" as "still open to debate,"
however, did not mention or report on the descendants' version of their origins.
While some archaeological work on the Late-Prehistoric frame of time
occurred prior and subsequent to Lambs hypothesis (for example Grosscup 1954;
1960; Steward 1937; Swanson 1962; Wright 1978; Zingg 1938), it was not until 1982
that archaeologists Robert Bettinger and Martin Baumhoff proposed a mechanism for
the spread of Numic hunters and gatherers. They cast the explanation in terms of
subtle competitive advantages in adaptation to the environment that accounted for the
Numic Spread. Bettinger and Baumhoff focused on the differences between the
Numic "processor" strategy (coupled with and an outcome of increased population)
and the Prenumic "traveler" strategy (1982; 1983). The original model of Bettinger
and Baumhoff (1982) has been debated and refined (1983; Bettinger 1993,1994).
A class of artifacts is customarily associated with the timeframe in which
these Numic speakers allegedly appeared in the Great Basin as hypothesized by Lamb
(1958). Some archaeologists (Aikens 1970; Jennings 1978; Madsen 1975; Forsyth
1986) attributed the appearance of these artifacts as evidence of one cultural
community replacing another, as Steward did earlier. They argued that a change in
ceramics from Fremont- or Anasazi-style indicated an ethnic group replacement by
Numic speakers. They equated artifact classes with the ethnic group of "Numic" by
employing evidence from the direct historical approach and arguing that a change in
artifact style and distribution reflects the hypothesized in-migration of language
speakers (Sutton and Rhode 1994:10) despite the fact that archaeologists have not
been very successful in demonstrating human movement into the area (Simms 1990;
Others disagree. For example, Bettinger and Baumhoff (1982:493) are clear
that "small triangular (Desert Side-Notched and Cottonwood) projectile points and
crude, coil-scrape pottery" are not "ethnically Numic"; only markers of the period of
time Numa appear on the scene.37 Further, contemporary research is revealing that
Post-Formative ceramics in Utah are temporally and spatially variable; the presumed
homogeneity is being challenged (Janetski 1994:163).
In the Capitol Reef region, disagreement exists as to whether artifact classes
reflect people or a taxonomic category of analytical use. The Office of Public
Archaeology (1996) working on a multi-phase inventory for Capitol Reef National
Park is clear to associate small triangular projectile points, brownware pottery, and
distinctive basketry technology with a frame of time, i.e., Late-Prehistoric, but not
with Numic-speaking peoples. At least two private archaeological contractors who
have worked on small projects for the park (Davis 1997; Hauck 1991) believe that
artifacts are diagnostic of a cultural group, they ...indicate occupation by a
protohistoric Numic-speaking group or groups (Davis 1997:158). One contractor
equates artifacts with linguistically similar hunters and gatherers who occupied
37 Bettinger (1993:54) later suggests that the evidence for the classifications of "Numa" and
"Fremont" is "compelling enough to hazard speculation" that both are indeed ethnic groups and not
necessarily fiinctional categories reflecting adaptative responses.
Capitol Reef and the surrounding region. Invoking the direct historical approach he
says about former occupants of the park:
These peoples followed an Archaic hunting-gathering life-way
retaining the bow and arrow and a primitive ceramic technology.
The.. .Desert Side Notched projectile point series, and a crude
thumbnail impressed, large tempered ware are the primary diagnostic
artifacts associated with Numic sites occupied during the Late-
Prehistoric Period. The small Desert Side-notch points continue in use
by Utes and Paiutes through the Protohistoric and into the early
Historic period (Hauck 1991:16).
Archaeologists designate a range of time for when American Indians like
Numic-speaking groups would have resided in and made use of the Capitol Reef
region. It is variously referred to as the "Protohistoric," "Late-Prehistoric," or "Post-
Formative Period. These designations essentially distinguish between a period of
time when farming as a way to obtain food dominated the region (referred to as the
"Formative Period) as contrasted with hunting and gathering that seemed to gain
prominence again following the Formative Period. The range of time may vary
depending upon the archaeologist, the classification system used, and the area
studied. For the Capitol Reef region, the Late-Prehistoric Period has been variously
designated by archaeologists as that between A.D. 1150 present or 850 years ago
(Davis 1997:13); A.D. 1200- 1850 or 650 years (Hauck 1991:16), and A.D. 1250 -
1800 or 450 years ago (Office of Public Archaeology 1996:12). Recent radiocarbon
dating of a site with brownware ceramics and small triangular projectile points on the
perimeter of Capitol Reef National Park indicates a Late-Prehistoric date of
approximately A.D. 1210 or 750 years ago (Tipps 1991).
"Numic hunters and gathers, then, refers to attributes of the hypothetical in-
migrants who may have arrived in the region about 1000 years ago. They seemed to
have spoken the same language, practiced a transhumant subsistence strategy, and
may be associated though it has not been proven with a set of material traits
different from that of the farmers who occupied the same area.
The Experience of Numic Hunter and Gatherer Identity
The taxonomic classification of "Numic hunters and gatherers" has little or no
relevance to remaining descendants" of the Ungkaw pawguh u veng. Two elders
were asked about the label bestowed by linguists and archaeologists upon their
ancestors. While they somewhat recognized the word Numa, they were unaware of
and indifferent to the title of hunters and gatherers. "We lived everywhere"
(Kanosh 1983) is how an elder in her nineties spoke about the transhumance of her
people. When descendants" recalled stories told about life before contact, they
remembered the good times, particularly the social gatherings, the abundance of food,
and the beauty of the place in which their families lived (Charles 1997a; Timican
1997; Vera Charles and Douglas Timican in Rosemary Sucec, field notes, 1998). It is
this sort of detail that is lost in the analytically functional, albeit composite, category
"Numic hunters and gatherers." It is a "sterilization" of identity that has contributed
to the homogenization of indigenous peoples.
Historical processes early on prevented archaeologists from collaborating with
American Indians, led American Indians to be studied, and resulted in a suite of
adverse consequences for communities like the Red Fish People. These processes
included the building of national culture, the application of theoretical and
methodological perspectives, and the professionalization of archaeology. This
process was furthered with processual archaeology's insistence on the search for cross
cultural laws and dismissal of history (Binford 1962).
Cumulatively and as a consequence of these processes, American Indians
have been de-coupled from their pasts. They have been appropriated as symbols of
national identity. Archaeological sites are viewed as lacking contemporary relevance
for them, and, until recent federal legislation, American Indians were effectively
"struck mute" (McGuire 1992:212) about themselves and their pasts.
Nation-states spawned archaeologists and in many instances they are
perceived to be instruments of the nation-building process (McGuire 1992:213-245).
A national identity is forged through the development of a common origin, history,
and customs (Fox 1990). In the production of that identity, American Indian pasts
have been appropriated in the national interest by archaeologists and cultural
anthropologists. This fait accompli was achieved by the portrayal of American
Indians as vanishing natives and by symbolizing archaeological sites as part of
national (and global) heritage (McGuire 1992:213-245). Nineteenth century
Americans assumed Indians would disappear once assimilated. Extensive data
collection by cultural anthropologists was premised on this assumption. Indians past
and present were appropriated as Americans and as the First Americans, thereby
becoming symbols of a national heritage. Archaeologists particularly were
designated the caretakers or stewards of the past, as those who could legitimately
know the past, and, therefore, the authorities on the past. The past became, then,
collectively (nationally) owned, but managed by the discipline of archaeology which
assumed proprietary interest.38 39
Other consequences resulted from constructing national culture at the expense
of American Indians. Sites are understood by processual archaeologists as isolated
from the present and not routinely associated with the on-going cultural traditions of
living native peoples (McGuire 1992:213-245).
38 Absence from lands upon which archaeologists have conducted work seemed to have lent
credence to the "vanishing native" hypothesis. Archaeological fieldwork (Lister 1959) began in
Capitol Reef National Park one year after the postulated Numic Spread. Limited fieldwork followed
(Mulroy and Kowta 1964; Noxon and Marcus 1978; Hauck 1991; Office of Public Archaeology 1996;
Davis 1997). By that time, the Red Fish People had been removed over fifty years from Rabbit Valley.
Until the 1996 field season at Fish Lake (Janetski et al. 1998), archaeologists had never met the Red
Fish People or their descendants" who were living one valley to the west of the park.
39 National Historic Preservation Week (second full week in May) was formally designated by
the President in the late 1960s at the urging of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Adrienne
Anderson, Regional Archaeologist, National Park Service, personal communication, 1999).
Professional archaeological organizations engage in an annual national poster competition judged at
the Society for American Archaeology meetings. One of Colorado's posters won a national award.
Both the slogan and the image portrayed nationalist and universalist motifs. The poster reads "Save
Our Past for the Future" [italics mine] and showed a picture of a Puebloan-style ceramic bowl
superposed on the earth.
.. .most Native American peoples see the past as being connected to
the present, with knowledge about it being preserved in oral traditions,
ceremonial practices, and beliefs....Pueblo people view ancestral sites
as being imbued with life, and inhabited by the spirits of the ancestors
who once lived there...many archaeologists view these same sites as
static sources of data to be studied in an objective and unemotional
manner.... (F erguson et al. 1997:239)
In fact, in public agencies like the National Park Service, some archaeologists and
interpreters still presume American Indians have "abandoned" sites because they
seemed to have "vanished" from federal lands like national parks. They are unaware
that those places are "alive" in songs and other oral traditions (Sucec 1997:52-56).
Archaeological theory and method precluded American Indian cooperation or
decision-making concerning the material and symbolic control of their heritage.
Classic evolutionary theory informed early archaeology. American Indians were
viewed as incapable of cultural and technological development. They were doomed
to vanish or to be assimilated. The changeless quality of the American Indian
archaeological record was stressed. Their static nature was reflected in the belief that
the Moundbuilders were not American Indians (Trigger 1994 : 104-105, 118-
119). Vine Deloria (1997:23-25) argues that the mistrust of oral tradition is a legacy
of evolutionism. The traditional knowledge of hunters and gatherers was
characterized as "superstitions" without an examination of the nature of this way of
knowing. Outsiders expressed skepticism and still do about the value and
reliability of native oral tradition. As the sub-field of archaeology developed, the
scientific approach gradually became a major methodological tenet of archaeology,