So You Think You Can Dance, 1851 edition

The Sabbath quiet of the newly formed Mormon colony at Parowan, Utah, was shattered one morning by the arrival of Wakara, the most prominent of the Ute leaders, and a large contingent of his tribesmen, returning north after an expedition to the Colorado River.

In 1853, Wakara’s anglicized name, Walker, would become attached to a brief and bloody war between the Indians and the white settlers; previous clashes with Wakara over the Indian slave trade and payments made to the Utes for the use of natural resources had already taught the Mormons to be respectful and wary in their dealings with him. When they arrived at the log meeting house/schoolhouse in which church services were underway, Wakara and his brother Ammon – who, as his name suggests, had had extensive and far more friendly dealings with the Mormons – were ushered to seats in the front of the room, and invited to speak.

Wakara spoke, in Ute, translated by Ammon into very decent English. Wakara had heard of the frequent dances of the Mormons, he said. He wished to see such a dance, he said. Right now, he said.

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