How Provo’s Squaw Peak Got Its Name.
When the colonists arrived on the Provo River in 1849, Old Elk, an impressive, middle-aged man, served as war chief of the Timpanogots Utes. Old Elk had killed several men and openly boasted that he would kill every white man he found alone on the prairie.
Old Elk’s warlike influence caused Ute warriors to fire upon a delegation of settlers who came to their fortified village early in February, 1850, to see if problems existing between the two groups could be settled peacefully. This aggression started a two-day battle that occurred on February 8th and 9th.
After the second day of battle, the Utes abandoned their stronghold in the night and scattered hoping to elude the colonists. One group, including Old Elk and his young wife, who was said to be one of the prettiest and most intelligent women in the Ute tribe, sought refuge in Rock Canyon, called by the Utes “The House of God.”
Thinking it would be difficult for the Utes to escape from the upper end of the canyon, Captain George Grant stationed ten men to guard the mouth of the canyon while the militia tracked larger groups of Indians.
When Grant returned a week later, he found the bodies of four or five Indians, including Old Elk, who had died from exposure and a wound. Most of the others had escaped into Provo Canyon. General Daniel H. Wells reported that one woman, Old Elk’s wife, had fallen to her death while trying to escape by climbing a precipice.
Although it is doubtful she fell from Squaw Peak, this tragic incident gave that scenic cliff its name.