1870 June 27 Letter to George Catlin


1870 June 27 Letter to George Catlin


As with all people, there are good and bad Indians. Military commanders seek their extermination. God will preserve them and the U. S. will answer for her crimes. The Saints feed the Indians and teach them to be industrious. They are the original owners of the American Soil.


Indian Affairs


Brigham Young


George Catlin




Salt Lake City, Utah
Bruselles, Belgrque

Number of Pages



Indian Affairs


Salt Lake City, Utah Ter.
27 June 1870

Geo. Catlin Esq.
8 Rue de Brabant
a Bruxelles. Belgique.

Dear Sir:

Your favor of 8th ult has reached me safely and been perused with great interest and pleasure. I sincerely thank you for the good feelings therein expressed to the people of Utah, and the native tribes, and should have answered it at an earlier date had I not been absent from Salt Lake City, visiting our citizens in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho, amongst whom I have passed the last three weeks.

I am well aware of the truth of the declarations made in your letter with regard to the treatment of the poor Indians and ourselves. I am also satisfied that the Red men of the forest are beginning to learn that we are their friends, and are seeking their good. We have proved in our intercourse with them, that there are as fine men amongst the native tribes possessing as noble and generous natures and feelings as amongst any people on the face of the earth, still there are bad men amongst the Indians, as amongst all other people, made so no doubt by contact with worse white men, whose ways and habits they have not been slow to follow, but we make the best we can of them and teach them to be better. We have, indeed at times been considerably annoyed by the vagrant habits and degraded course of these sons of the forest and desert, but still we bear with them, and think that they will become better by and bye, and we have not been forward to condemn, nor hasty and vindictive in scourging them in the woutonness of our supposed strength, for their real or supposed crimes, has as been two often the case with our neighbors in the surrounding States and Territories.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the Military commanders and their subordinates, who in response to the clamor of the border settlers and political demigogues of the great West," who make the extermination of the Indian one of their watch cries, I have no idea that they will succeed in their bloodthirsty and iniquitous designs. The "great Spirit", has a future for the Red men, and that not in their grave, I as sincerely believe as the Indians do themselves; but how much they may suffer, or how much they may be despoiled and wasted, before the tide of His providence turns fully in their favor is not for me to say.

But I do know, and that in sorrow, that our country must answer for their bad faith, broken treaties, and great crimes in Indian matters, that they have perpetrated in the name of Christianity, civilization and progress, which in this case means the inordinate lust of reckless and unprincipled men for riches and power.

Whilst on my late trip, I visited a camp of about eighteen hundred Indians, principally Utes, Yampa-utes, Snakes and Bannocks who had assembled in the vicinity of our settlements in Bear Lake Valley to hold council according to their usual annual custom. Most of their big chiefs were there, and they had brought their squaws and papooses with them, and quite a flock of goats and a large band of horses.

Whilst I was at their camp the squaws, for the amusement of myself and company went through a characteristic dance and monotonous chant, whilst the braves played on a sort of tamborine. The eople living in the neighborhood told me they had had no trouble with them, that they had been peacable and friendly, and had not interfered with the stock or property of the settlers.

The course of the people of Utah have persued towards the Indians can be recommended not only on the score of humanity, but of economy. We have found it cheaper to feed than to fight them, at the same time we do not believe in descending to their degraded level to do them good, but to raise them up to our standard, and little by little teach them to be industrious, orderly, honest and peacable. Thus we shall gain their love, and by keeping our word with them hold their respect. By this means we hope, with the help of the Lord to accomplish much good for the original owners of the soil of this continent

Again thanking you for the many kind expressions of regard and sympathy which your letter breathes, I

Very Respectfully Yours