Thursday, February 9, 2012

The True Nelson Arave Indian Tale

There's a prominent tale about Nelson Arave regarding Indian trouble.
My own family's story names the Indian leader -- Little Soldier -- claims the natives whipped Nelson because they were afraid Brigham Young was going to send soldiers to run them out of the area. Then, after withstanding a beating, Nelson walked with the Indians on horseback to see Brigham Young in Salt Lake and sort things out.
My family's story claims it happened in Mountain Green in the 1870s.
Some of my brothers and sisters gave this story as fact in some school classes in the past.
That timeline and location for this story is definitely incorrect. Nelson moved to Hooper in 1969 or 1870.
Also, the main Indian trouble history records in the area happened in 1854, when Nelson was living in East Weber (forerunner to today's Uintah).
History records that Little Soldier and his Indians had a winter camp near Ogden in 1854 and stole cattle and cut fences that year. In September of 1854, Brigham Young met with various local Indian leaders in Weber County and gave them presents to keep the peace.
"Nelson Arave: Our Heritage of Faith" booklet history by Alvin Earl Arave in 1997, isn't as detailed as my family's version of the Indian story.
This version is also not as exaggerated either.
There's no report of Nelson being whipped, or of the Indians actually going with Nelson to see Brigham Young. (Nelson went alone). He returned with gifts from Brigham Young, as well as with an unnamed man Young send to help affirm his support for the Indians.
If this story about Nelson Arave and the Indians took place in 1854, then it is likely true. Otherwise, it is a legend and has been tied into the famous 1854 account.
It is about 34 miles from Uintah to downtown Salt Lake City.
Both stories state that Nelson walked that entire distance. Even at a walking speed of 3 mph (pretty fast for trails of that era), it would take almost 11 1/2 hours of non-stop walking for Nelson to have reached Salt Lake. So, even if he started walking at 7 a.m., he wouldn't have arrived in Salt Lake until 6:30 p.m., or after. So, he had to stay the night there, it seems.
In conclusion, my own immediate family's version of Nelson Arave and the Indians is simply exaggerated and doesn't stand up to official written histories on the area.
The Alvin Arave version seems more credible and is certainly true, if it can be proven to have taken place in 1854.
Otherwise, I don't doubt that Nelson Arave had some sort of encounter with some angry Indians at some time in his East Weber years, but outside of an 1854 occurrence, I'm suspicious that it directly involved Brigham Young, or a walk to Salt Lake City -- and was probably a much less interesting tale than the Arave family histories claim.
There were also reports of "Indian trouble" recorded in history, from 1860-1862. That's primarily why Nelson and other Mountain Green settlers moved to Morgan for two years, 1860-1862. But Little Soldier was not a factor then and Brigham Young was likely just giving gifts to the Indians by then. Also, Nelson is not said to have walked from Morgan to Salt Lake, as that is an extra 10 to 12 miles to Salt Lake.

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