Indigenous Peoples of Utah

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Learn about the tribes and bands, history, agencies, records and reservations of Utah.

Utah is a Ute word meaning People of the mountains.

If you believe your family has Native American ancestry, first identify a specific time period and locality for your ancestor by using other Utah and United States records. Knowing and studying the history of a tribe is vital in finding available records. Many tribes have been or are found in Utah.

The State of Utah maintains a web site that provides a summary History of the Indian tribes of Utah.

Tribes and Bands of Utah[edit | edit source]

The following list of Native Americans who have lived in Utah has been compiled the following:

  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians...[1]
  • Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America[2]
  • Cuch, Forrest. A History of Utah's American Indians[3]

Some may simply be variant spellings for the same tribe.



Agencies of the BIA[edit | edit source]

Agencies and subagencies were created as administrative offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its predecessors. Their purpose was (and is) to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.

The following list of agencies that have operated or now exist in Utah has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs...[4], Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians[5], and others.

A brief history of each agency and an explanation of the availability of at least some records for each are listed on the page for the agency.

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Tribal organizations have kept statistics, enrollment, and other records since the 1930s. Tribal organizations in Utah are the Ute Indian Tribe, the White Mesa Utes, Goshiute Indian Tribe, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, North West Band of Shoshone Tribe, and the Skull Valley Goshiute Tribe. For current tribal addresses, contact:

The Family History Library has some tribal records. You may locate others through the BIA agency or tribe. One tribal record is found in:

  • Family Records of Uintah and Whiteriver Utes, 1867–1948. Two Volumes. N.p., 1958. FHL 1035932 item 3. The family group sheets are arranged alphabetically and also found by an index. The degree of Indian blood and tribe, parents, and spouses are listed.

Allotment Records[edit | edit source]

Allotted Tribes of Utah

•Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Uncompahgre

Church and Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

Helpful information about reservation families can often be found in church and cemetery records. Search tribal histories or contact the agency, the tribal office, or the reservation for information about specific religious denominations and local cemeteries.

The Family History Library has a few records of this type. For example, the library has a record of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints baptisms in 1875 entitled:

  • Records of the Baptisms of the Indians in Grass Valley in 1875. N.p., 19--? FHL 982289 item 5. Grass Valley is now known as Koosharem, Sevier County, Utah. The book and film have a typed list and a photocopy of the original baptisms. The names of the Native Americans and the person who baptized and confirmed them are listed along with the date of baptism.
  • Office of Indian Affairs-Utah Superintendency M834 Family History Library films 1025139 and 1025140.
  • Census of St. George 1895-1905 Salt Lake Special___________
  • Inter mountain Indian School 1950-1951 Family History Library film1205530 Item 2

Censuses[edit | edit source]

Census, Final Rolls of the Indian Peaks, Shivwits, Kanosh and Koosharem Bands of Paiute Indians. FHL Fiche: 6019270

The 1900 federal census included population schedules for several Indian groups in Utah. Some were associated with reservations and agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most of the information in this census for Indian individuals and families were recorded on Indian Population Schedules. In some cases, information for Indians were filed by the Bureau of Census along with the general population schedules for non-Indian residents. Separate districts exist for the Southern Utah Agency and for the Uintah and Ouray Agency. Schedules for groups not listed as separate districts exist for Shoshone Indians in Portage Precinct, Box Elder County, Utah and for Santa Clara Precinct, Washington County, Utah.

The 1900, 1910, and 1920 U.S. population censuses enumerated American Indians associated with reservations or agencies. These censuses are found in the population schedules of the federal census. The Utah Census page explains these records.

Online Census Records[edit | edit source]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

Several sources include genealogies of the American Indians. These genealogies provide information about parents and other ancestors. Individuals and societies have gathered genealogies. One example is:

  • Curry, Rex D. Indian Genealogical Records, 1835–1946. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1981. (Family History Library film 1033685 item 6). The names of the families are arranged in alphabetical order. The record includes name, tribe, birth and death information, and degree of Indian blood. The names of parents, spouse, and children are included with their birth and death information.

History[edit | edit source]

Indian Conflicts

1853-1854 Walker WarChief Wakara Leader of Ute's against the Utah Pioneers

1853 Gunnison Massacre Captain John Willma Gunnison and seven of his men killed by Pahvants (Ute) Indians.

1853 Fountain Green Massacre Ute Indians of Sanpitch attacked and killed four men: William Reed, James Nelson, William Luke and Thomas Clark.

1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre Arkansas emigrants (120 individuals) and a few Missourians, attacked, most were killed, by pioneers and Indians. See Senate Executive Document 42, 36th Congress, 1st Session

1860 Pyramid Lake War, Utah Territory Washoe Indian War involved Northern Paiutes, Shoshone and Bannock against the United States

1863 Bear River Massacre United States ArmyCol. Patrick Edward Connor leading a detachment of California volunteers, attacked Shoshone Indians

30 July 1963 Treaty of Box Elder between the Northwestern Shoshone and the U.S. Government.

1865-1867 Black Hawk War It is estimated 150 battles, skirmishes, raids and military engagements between Latter-day Saints, settlers and the Ute, Paiute, Apache, and Navajo tribes lead by Chief Antonga Black Hawk

1866Pipe Springs; Dr. James Montgomery Whitmore and his brother-in-law Robert McIntyre Killed by Indians

1866 Circleville Massacre - part of Black Hawk War

1860-1870 Uintah Basin Reservation

1879 Indian agent, N. C. Meeker and others were killed at the White River Agency in western Colorado

March 1923 The Posey War, the Last Indian uprising - during the relocation of Ute and Paiute Indians from Bluff, (San Juan County) Utah to Navajo Mountain. Indians led by Chief Posey and Chief Polk. United States led by Hugh L. Scott and Charles Mabey. Included Ute Mountain Incident, Battle of Cottonwood Gulch, and Surrender at Mexican Hat.

A History of Utah's American Indians. FHL book 970.1 C892h

You may need to begin by learning some history of Utah Indian reservations. Two sources are:

  • Indian Reservations of the West. Heart Throbs of the West,1, (1939): 127–145. This brief article outlines the history of eight separate reservations. It provides details of the beginning of the reservation and some history on the tribe. Narrations are quoted from journals of leaders.
  • Taylor, Eli F. Indian Reservations in Utah. Utah Historical Quarterly 4, Number 1 (January 1931): 29–32.This article gives a brief history of the different reservations throughout Utah. It gives information such as dates established, size, and by whose authority they were established.

Histories of some tribes are available at the Family History Library or through public libraries. Some state and county histories give a background history on the tribes in their area. Check Utah History for general Utah histories. An example of history about the Ute Indians is:

  • Dixon, Madoline Cloward. These Were the Utes. Provo, Utah: Press Publishing Limited, 1983.This source discusses lifestyle, wars, and legends. There are historical and biographical stories.

Newspaper[edit | edit source]

Utah State Archives. Newspaper clippings about Navajos: clip file, 1868-1938

Oral History[edit | edit source]

University of Utah has the Doris Duke Collection

Indian Schools[edit | edit source]

The Office of Indian Affairs (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs) established a network of schools throughout the United States, beginning with Carlisle Indian School, established in 1879. Some of these schools were day schools, usually focusing on Indian children of a single tribe or reservation. Some were boarding schools which served Indian children from a number of tribes and reservations.

In addition, other groups such as various church denominations established schools specifically focusing on Native American children. (read more...)

The following list of Indian Schools in Utah has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs...[6], Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians[7], and others.

Indian Farms[edit | edit source]

Allen Canyon 1887 (San Juan county), Beaver, Corn Creek (Sevier county), Cpromme 1956, Elk Mountain (Emery county), Santa Clara 1854, Skull Valley 1869 (Tooele county), Spanish Fork 1856 (Utah county), Thistle Valley 1872 (Carbon county), Warm Springs 1855, Washakie 1880 (Beaver County), Washington 1854

Reservations[edit | edit source]

From the mid-1800s, the official policy of the United States government toward the Native Americans was to confine each tribe to a specific parcel of land called a reservation. Agencies were established on or near each reservation. A government representative, usually called an agent (or superintendent), was assigned to each agency. Their duties included maintaining the peace, making payments to the Native Americans based on the stipulations of the treaties with each tribe, and providing a means of communication between the native population and the federal government.

Sometimes, a single agency had jurisdiction over more than one reservation. And sometimes, if the tribal population and land area required it, an agency may have included sub-agencies.

The boundaries of reservations, over time, have changed. Usually, that means the reservations have been reduced in size. Sometimes, especially during the later policy of "termination," the official status of reservations was ended altogether.

For a current reservation map - Utah-Indian Reservations - The National Atlas of the United States of America. Federal Lands and Indian Reservations. by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.

American Indian Reservations and Other Indian Trust Lands BIA Western Region Map: Utah, Arizona, and Nevada

The following list of reservations has been compiled from the National Atlas of the United States of America[8], the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America[9], and other sources. Those reservations named in bold are current federally-recognized reservations, with their associated agency and tribe(s). Others have historically been associated with the state or are not currently recognized by the federal government.

  • Corn Creek Reservation 1856-1869:
  • Deep Creek Band Reservation 1912:
  • Gandy Homestead:Tribe: Ute
  • Gosiute Reservation
  • Indian Peak (Paiute) Reservation 1924:
  • Ipapah Gosiute:
  • Kanosh Reservation 1929-1954:Tribes: Ute and Paiute
  • Koosharem Reservation 1929-1954:Tribe: Paiute
  • Navajo Reservation 1884:-- While portions of this reservation are in Utah, its main part is in Arizona, as is the major portion of its administration. The 1900 federal census included population schedules for the portion of the Navajo Reservation within the State of Utah. They were included in District 217, Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, Utah. They are recorded on Indian Population Schedules.
  • Northwestern Band of Shoshone: State, under jurisdiction of the Fort Hall Agency; Tribe: Shohone
  • Paiute Reservation:
  • San Pete Reservation 1856-1869:
  • Shebit Reservation 1916:Tribe: Paiute
  • Shivwits Reservation 1903-54:Tribe: Paiute
  • Skull Valley Reservation 1912: Federal, under jurisdiction of the Uintah Ouray Agency, Tribe: Goshute
  • Spanish Fork Reservation 1856-1869:
  • Uinta and Ouray Reservation 1861: Federal, under jurisdiction of the Uintah & Ouray Agency, Tribe: Ute
  • Uncompahgre (Ute) Reservation June 15, 1880. Allotted Land: 12.540 acres
  • Uintah Valley Reservation:
  • White Mesa Ute Reservation:

Utah Superintendency (1850-1870)[edit | edit source]

Indigenous peoples living in Utah were administered by the Utah Superintendency of the United States Office of Indian Affairs from 1850 to 1870. Copies of records for the Utah Superintendency from 1853 to 1870 are at the National Archives—Denver Branch, and the Family History Library.

  • United States. Office of Indian Affairs, Utah Superintendency. Records of the Utah Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1853–1870. National Archives Microfilm Publication, M0834. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1971. FHL Film 1025139 to FHL film 1025140. The record is arranged chronologically and does not have an index. The second film, "Miscellaneous Records," includes names of American Indians.

Records Created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) (1870-present)

In 1870, BIA agencies replaced the Utah Superintendency. The largest agency in Utah is as follows:

Other agencies serving Utah's indigenous people are the Southern Paiute Field Station in Utah, Western Navajo and Shiprock in Arizona, Fort Hall in Idaho, Elko in Nevada, and Ute Mountain in Colorado. Their addresses are found in:

  • Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. 7th ed. West Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 1995.This book contains directories for the United States and Canada. In addition to the addresses, there are bibliography and biography sections. The book is indexed.

The local agency and the area office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs usually have records of indigenous peoples currently associated with a reservation. Some earlier records have been sent to the National Archives or to the National Archives branch that serves the area. The National Archives—Denver Branch has important collections of BIA records for Utah. The Laguna Niguel, San Bruno, Fort Worth, and Seattle Branches also have some records relating to indigenous people in Utah.

The Family History Library has copies of some agency records. Two examples of agency records are:

  • United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Uintah and Ouray Agency. Vital Records of the Ute Indians to 1946. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1953. (Family History Library FHL film 01763 to FHL film 01769. The record is alphabetically arranged by family name. It gives degree of Indian blood, tribe, birth and death dates, parents' names with their birth and death dates, and siblings' birth, death, and marriage information.
  • United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Indian Census Rolls, Fort Hall, Utah 1883–1939. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0595. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1965. Family History Library FHL film 576493 to FHL film 576499. This record covers Bannock tribes from 1885 to 1939. It is arranged into family units and gives sex, age, and family relationship information. The Indian and English names are also listed.

Major James McLaughlin was assigned to the American Indians in Utah for many years. His correspondence and documents contain many records about the Navajos and the Utes. The papers are found in the following:

  • McLaughlin, James. Major James McLaughlin Papers, 1855–1937. Richardton, North Dakota: Assumption Abbey Archives, 1968. (On 39 microfilm rolls at the Family History Library beginning with FHL film 494467). These records include enrollments, school records, absentee Indians, and censuses. Two rolls of films index the collection. The indexes are on films 541379–80 and contain more than a hundred cards about Utah.

Other Repositories[edit | edit source]

Libraries and societies have published sources, manuscripts, or collections of materials relating to American Indians. For example, the Marriott Library at the University of Utah is a repository for the Oral History Program of the Doris Duke Grant. This grant is devoted to collecting American Indian oral histories. See Indigenous Peoples of the United States Oral Histories

Museum[edit | edit source]

  • Utah. State Board of Education. Research and Planning. Navajo archives, chronological index, ca. 1835-1977 Microfilm of original materials at the Navajo Archives, now located in the Edge of the Cedars Museum, Blanding, Utah. Card file index to published government documents, unpublished archival material, material from the tribal archives at the Navajo Tribal Museum, material from the Utah State Commission on Indian Affairs, maps, photographs, oral history and clip file. Cards are arranged chronologically by the above sections. Material indexed dates from approximately 1835-1977. FHL Films 1670771 item 3, 1670769 item 8, and 1665840
  • Utah. State Board of Education. Research and Planning. Navajo Tribal Museum Archives, 1832-1966: Indian Papers. FHL Films 1665840 and Tribal Museum Archives, 1832-1966 1670770

FamilySearch Wiki and Catalog[edit | edit source]

The Indigenous Peoples of the United Staets Genealogy Wiki pages include an overview of major federal records helpful for researching Native American ancestry.

Agency records and tribal records are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog in the Places search under:

Also, look under the Subjects search for the name of the tribe, such as:

  • Navajo Indians
  • Paiute Indians
  • Ute Indians

Additional records may be in the Subjects search under:

  • Indians of North America - Utah

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

See also American Indian For Further Reading.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
  2. Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online; FHL book 970.1 S24i
  3. Cuch,Forrest S. ed. A History of Utah's American Indians. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Division of Indian Affairs c2000 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 970.1 C892h.
  4. Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
  5. Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
  6. Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
  7. Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
  8. National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
  9. Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.