The Chief Sanpitch Story
Chief Sanpitch (often mispronounced as “Sanpete”), is more than just the county’s namesake. It is paramount that we are reminded of this land’s first stewards. When Mormon immigrants arrived in the central valley of what is now Sanpete County, Chief Sanpitch was the leader of the Native American band of Utes called the “Sanpits.” While there are undeniable depredations on both sides of our history, Chief Sanpitch deserves recognition for the periodic peace in the region amidst major changes and hostilities to his ancestral lands. The few words recorded from him suggest that he promoted peace and coexistence between settlers and natives.
During the Black Hawk war, In the Spring of 1865, as a ploy to get Black Hawk to bargain, the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, had Sanpitch incarcerated along with other tribal chiefs in the Manti jail. A few chiefs were able to escape, including Sanpitch, who was shot and wounded. He was later found by a local posse near Fountain Green where he sat alone, defenseless atop a boulder near Birch Creek Canyon. It is said that he pleaded for his life but was killed regardless. Today, it is hoped that visitors will find empathy and meaning in the chief’s life and legacy.
Before eventually succumbing to pressure to move his people to a reservation, Sanpitch is recorded as stating, “This is my land. I shall stay here on this land till I get ready to go away, and then I shall go to the Snakes or somewhere else [and not to the reservation.]” (Utah’s Black Hawk War, p.155). Sanpitch died in the place of his birth as a chief who advocated peace for his land and people.
Before creating this monument, local artist, Brad Taggart, went to great efforts to gain the support of the Ute Tribal Council concerning the statue’s placement and appearance. He has taken care to study the historical standing of Chief Sanpitch, his garb, and likely features. Sanpitch is posed in a calming gesture, with his free hand moving away from his tomahawk, as if asking for peace and civility. He sits atop a replica of the boulder that still stands today in Fountain Green, as a reminder of his life.
Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA)
The North Sanpete Arts Council (NSAC) Utah Division of Arts and Museums
Mount Pleasant City
Special Thanks to:
Ute Tribal Council Monte and Jackie Bona Horseshoe Mountain Hardware Clint and Chet Hacking Altaview Concrete Round Hills Rock
875 South State Street in Mt Pleasant, Utah