Provo Hosted Utah’s Largest Trading Fair Between the Utes and Pioneers.
In February, 1850, militiamen from Fort Utah and Salt Lake City defeated the Timpanogots band of Utes in a pitched battle on the banks of the Provo River near what is now Riverside Plaza.
The Indians who survived escaped from the valley. Brigham Young did not wish to alienate the other bands that made up the Ute tribe, and he looked for a way to rebuild friendship with these Utes.
It was customary for Utes from other valleys in Utah Territory to gather along the Provo River during the spawning season each spring to catch fish. When President Young learned that these Utes were anxious to talk peace and trade with the Mormons, he made arrangements for a trading fair to he held near Fort Utah. Young hoped this would foster friendliness between the two peoples and show the Utes that it was advantageous to have a settlement here.
Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders accompanied a small wagon caravan of goods to Fort Utah. Young hoped to complete several days of successful trading and peace talks. Watching the colonists wrestling, gambling, and betting on horse races shocked the Mormon leader.
By the afternoon of the first day of festivities, Young had seen enough. He assigned a small number of traders to stay and conduct trading and ordered all others from Salt Lake City to return home. He later received “a very unfavorable report of the conduct of the brethren at Fort Utah.”
After reading this message, Young ordered the traders to gather up all of the unsold merchandise and return to Salt Lake City. Church authorities immediately tried the brethren for Fort Utah for their deplorable behavior and disfellowshipped them as a group. Then they immediately forgave the unrepentant transgressors and returned them to fellowship. However, Young sent word to the Utes that the next big trade would not be held in Utah Valley.