Henry E. Harris Jr.

Henry Ernest Harris Jr.


Oral Interview of Henry E. Harris, July 19, 1967

"Too-monchou" (Black Whiskers), Roll #168

Henry E. Harris Jr. was born in the coldest part of the year, in Whiterocks, (Uintah County) Utah on January 31, 1896 to Henry E Harris and Mary May Reed. He was the fifth child out of eight children and was named after his Father.

In the white world he was known as Henry, but to his Native people and friends he was called “Too-monchou” (Black Whiskers.) In his later years, to his family, he would be called and would answer to either Brig. (Brigham,) Barlow or Biggie. No matter what he was called he stood tall and proud. He was lucky to not only have both of his parents to nurture and look out for him when he was a baby, he also had both of his Grandparents on his mothers side also.

“Too-monchou” grew up in a good world. His nation was great and self-sufficient. Life was spacious. All adults, not just his parents, were dependable, patient and kind. Henry grew up in warm surroundings. His parents were tolerant but firm and punishment was seldom needed. “Too-monchou” had integrity and everyone’s respect.

Henry was taught that the Earth was his mother and he lived upon it like a good child in his mothers house, how to find sustenance and to destroy nothing in the process.

Henry was taught at an early age how to sing the Sundance songs. He would travel to Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, plus his home in Utah attending Sundance’s, he eventually became the lead singer in the group. When not attending Sundance's “Too-monchou” was taught the Spiritual ways of his people. He fasted, prayed and went on a vision quest in order to make himself strong. He was taught how to heal in the Indian way and was a great help to many of his fellow Native Brothers and Sisters. When Henry was a youth of not quite 10, he was sent to the Sherman Indian School in Riverside, California where he graduated with honors.

“Too-monchou” never married. His true love died while attending school in Riverside, California and made a vow to never love another, that he would see her again when it was his time to lay his robe (body) down and be together forever!

Henry bought himself some Cattle and made Cattle and Ranching his livelihood. He belonged to the Uintah and Ouray Livestock Association. Every Year, in the spring he would move his Cattle to the Uinta Mountains to graze for the summer and in the fall, he and hired hands would go up into the Mountains and round up his Cattle and bring them down out of the mountains for the winter. He was a true Cowboy!

After his Father walked the Spirit Trail, “Too-monchou” (Black Whiskers) stayed with his Mother and took care of Her until She left this world and then stayed on at the Family Ranch until it was his time to walk the Spirit Trail.

When the 490 Uinta’s was terminated “Too-monchou” learned that he could no longer run his Cattle on Tribal Land and it would be to expensive for him to pay for grazing rights. His Cattle herd was large and he had to sell them because he had no where to put them.

Life got hard for him after he and the others were terminated. His Spirit no longer wanted to be here, his heart was heavy and full of sorrow, it was beating to a slow beat of the drum which was the drum beat of a farewell song!

No longer would he be able to sit around the drum and sing his beloved Sundance Songs as he had in earlier years, his voice was now silent. “Too-monchou” would light his sacred sage to try to smudge away the pain and sorrow in his heart, he would say: I AM TRYING TO BLOW IT INTO THE WIND!

They say time is a healer....Where you are now Uncle, time is timeless. Years to us is just day’s to you. Uncle “Too-monchou” (Black Whiskers) is at rest because he knows his family will soon be a part of the Uinta Band and his prayers to the four winds will be answered!

Oral Interview of Henry E. Harris, July 19, 1967

Note:This biography was written by his Niece: Nola Jean Zuniga, roll #490...