"The Dispossessed"


Culture Genocide of the Mixed-Blood Utes

An Advocate's Chronicle: by Parker M. Nielson



In the Dispossessed, Parker Nielson chronicles the tragic story of the mixed-blood Utes. A leading Utah attorney, Nielson represended this group in its suit against the U.S. government, decided by the Supreme Court in 1972. Although the Court determined that the mixed-bloods had been defrauded, it declined to restore their property. Basing his account on extensive research as well as his own firsthand experience, Nielson brings to light for the first time the disturbing events that led up to the landmark decision.

Desprived of their native lands in central Utah by immigrant Mormans, the mixed-blood Utes - almost exclusively member of the Uintah band - were confined to a reservation in eastern Utah, with a promise from the U.S. government that the land would be theirs alone forever. This promise was not kept. The final blow was the Termination Act, enacted in the early 1950s. Designed to end government supervision of American Indians and the obligation of federal entitlements, its consequences for the mixed-blood Utes - as well as for many other Indian groups - were devastating, for it deprived them of their assets, land, and very way of life.

Drawing in particular on the testmony of individual Utes affected by this termination policy, Nielson discloses the broken promises and backhanded schemes perpetuated by government officials and the Ute's own lawyers, whose motives were compromised by self interest. The author thus explores an all-too-neglected subject: The role of tribal attorneys in influencing tribal histories.

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