Whose Land? | Urban Living
DONATE
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Whose Land?

By

comment
urbanliving1-1.png

With homes in Utah and around many parts of the country selling for unheard of prices, it's interesting to go back in time when a home in Salt Lake might cost $100 or the trade of a few good horses. Utah was organized as a territory in 1850 and admitted as a state in 1986.

According to the 1900 census (the country's 12th census), Utah's population was 276,749—an increase of 33.1% over the previous decade. Comments in the report stated: "A small portion of this increase is due to the fact that there were 2,848 Indians and 26 other persons, or a total of 2,874 persons, on Indian reservations in Utah."

Indigenous peoples have lived in Utah for thousands of years. They felt no one could own land, that it belonged to all. The first peoples were Anasazi who melded into the tribes of Utes, Goshutes, Paiutes, Shoshone and Navajo. Each occupied different regions of the state, with some territories extending across borders into other states.

In the 2010 census, a total of 32,927 American Indian and Alaska Natives were counted as living within Utah's boundaries—amounting to 1.19% of the state's total population. Of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States, Utah's eight include the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Skull Valley Indian Reservation, Timpanog Tribe, Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Census data show that the largest tribal communities indigenous to Utah are the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe and Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.

Members of the Blackfeet tribe live in and around Idaho. In 1885, Crowfoot, their chief, said: "Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals.

"We cannot sell the lives of men and animals; therefore, we cannot sell this land. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit, and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. You can count your money and burn it within the nod of a buffalo's head, but only the Great Spirit can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass of these plains. As a present to you, we will give you anything we have that you can take with you, but the land, never."

I heard of a man buying his Avenues home in the 1800s for the price of his only suit of clothes.

Now, I work with people willing to give up everything just to own a home, a roof over their head. What's our future, Utah?