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Posey

Native American Nations | Indian Warriors
 

Long after the great Indian wars were over and new generations of red men had taken their places in the white man's world, one man continued to fight the hopeless battle to preserve a lost way of life.

Posey was born in the 1860's of a Paiute (Pah-Ute) father and a Mexican mother and was quite small and thin. He grew up in the high country around present Blanding, Utah, which the Paiute's call Land of the Mists. In the days of his youth, his tribe was often at war with the Navajos, who lived in the desert to the north. They had little contact with white men until the Mormons established the town of Bluff in Southeast Utah. There were some minor clashes between the Mormon settlers and the Paiutes over hunting rights. This led to the rustling of the Mormons' cattle and finally to some fighting.

Mancos Jim was the Paiute chief and his leading warriors were Posey and Polk, inseparable friends since childhood. When Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, requested government troops to quell the Indian, a few Army patrols were sent into the area to keep order. Relations of the Indians with the soldiers remained cordial until Posey saw some of them traveling with Navajo scouts. So great was his hatred of the Navajos that he and several other braves set a trap for the patrol at the San Juan River. A soldier and a Navajo scout were sent ahead to reconnoiter and both men were shot down and wounded by the Paiutes. When another soldier tried to help them, he was killed. Then Posey released a pack of fierce war dogs, which rushed in and killed the wounded men.

Gallantry would seem out of place in men capable of such a deed, but in June, 1887, Posey and Polk, unaided, held off a band of eight armed Navajos when their leader, Red Fox, threatened to kill a woman. Red Fox mortally wounded Barton, the owner of the Rincon Indian Trading Pst, and accidentally shot and killed another Navajo brave in the process. He turned the gun on Mrs. Barton, but before he could fire he was "covered" by the two Paiutes, who drove the Navajos away and remained to help at the trading post.
On the other hand, Posey later shot down a U.S. Deputy Marshal who was carrying a flag of truce. And when Chief Mancos Jim decided the Paiutes should live in peace, Posey was the man who chose to lead a small number of his tribe in continued raiding and warfare.
In 1905 the town of Grayson (now Blanding) was founded in the heart of the southern Blue Mountains, effectively destroying the last good hunting lands of the tribe. There were ten more years of raiding and skirmishing by Posey's band before an incident occurred that caused a larger outbreak. Tsa-na-gat, son of Polk, ambushed and killed a young Mexican for his money. Navajo police tried to arrest the youth and Polk drove them off with rifle fire. Later a 46-man posse returned and were ambushed by Polk and Posey and driven back, with two posse men killed and several wounded. Posey led the Paiutes into a mountain hide away and repulsed another posse made up of about 50 Navajos. The U.S. Army finally was called into the small war.

General Hugh Scott was sent to negotiate with the hostiles, meeting with Posey at Mexican Hat. Posey, Polk and Tsa-na-gat were persuaded to go to Salt Lake City, where all three were jailed. The older men were freed a short time later, but Tsa-na-gat was convicted of murder and sent to prison. Posey was such a quarrelsome old man that he had few friends in his later years. In February, 1923, when two Paiute youths were found guilty of breaking into a sheep camp, Posey and six braves waylaid the sheriff and freed the prisoners. The escaping Indians were pursued by six men in a Model T. but Posey stopped the car with his was surplus .30-06 rifle. A horseback posse soon was organized and all of the Indians were rounded up except Posey, who escaped with a bullet wound in the rump. Gangrene west in while the old fighter hid out at Comb's Wash and he died in March, 1923.

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Collection of books and papers, 1922-1925

Indian Warriors

 

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