In the early 1850s, Latter-day Saint settlers claimed a part of Ute territory as their own. Though eventually defeated, the Ute Indians, led by Chief Black Hawk, waged a war against the pioneers that lasted from 1865 to 1868.

The war cost the lives of 46 settlers and nearly $1.5 million in damage.Because there are few records of the battles and little written on Chief Black Hawk himself, folklore has passed itself off as history.

Long ignored is that, despite his infamy, Black Hawk had a great part in restoring peace between the Ute tribe and the settlers.

Yet Black Hawk's remains, unearthed in 1911, still await reburial in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

His bones were kept in the basement of the LDS Historical Department for 60 to 70 years and are now stored at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures at Brigham Young University. They were recently recovered through the efforts of a Pleasant Grove Boy Scout named Shane Armstrong.

Armstrong was doing his Eagle Scout project on Black Hawk last year and started to wonder where the chief's remains were stored. His goal was to have the chief's remains registered with the U.S. Forest Service.

"I thought it was weird that no one had records on him," Armstrong said.

Armstrong said that neither the LDS Historical Department, nor the Brigham Young University museum knew where Black Hawk's remains were. Both places kept referring him to the other. But after repeated phone calls, the historical department eventually located the remains and immediately turned them over to BYU.

Now, a legendary warrior depends on bureaucracy for his bones to be put to rest.

Betsy Chapoose, director of Cultural Rights Protection Department of the Ute tribe, said the tribe is working with the Uinta National Forest Service and wants Black Hawk reburied as close to the original burial site as possible.

"I think sometimes you just have to take it in stride and say, `We're going to right what's been wronged,' " she said.

In September 1870, Black Hawk died and was buried in the mountains behind Spring Lake in Utah County. For 41 years his grave, only a few miles from his birthplace, was left undisturbed. Then in 1911 several men working at the Syndicate Mine near Santaquin located the grave and removed Black Hawk's remains.

"It is curious how these icons of the past become everyone's property," said Charmaine Thompson of the Uinta National Forest. "There are different cultural ethics involved."

Thompson pointed out that in 1919, the Deseret Evening News ran photographs of Chief Black Hawk's remains and excavated burial site. A smiling excavator is shown holding up the chief's skull.

Perhaps Black Hawk's reputation as an outlaw led to the belief that his grave did not deserve respect.

A man named Josiah Rogerson Sr. interviewed Black Hawk before the chief's death detailing Black Hawk's desire for peace. Rogerson recounted how the chief went to Fillmore, set up his tent and found Bishop Thomas Callister to help him contact Brigham Young by telegraph.

Some time after, Black Hawk returned to many of the towns he had raided to make amends with the settlers. He reportedly told one man, "You need not be afraid of us anymore. I am sick of blood."

Albert Winkler, a BYU archivist with a doctorate in history, said even though Black Hawk was one of the more accessible American Indians, most of what was written about him were biased accounts by white settlers.

Winkler said his interest in the life of Black Hawk came from the stories his mother told him as a child.

"She got them all wrong," he said.

Reports of Black Hawk's involvement in the war, his success as a leader and the cause of his death are inaccurate, undocumented and disputable, Winkler said.

There were reports that Black Hawk died of a combination of tuberculosis and a war wound. The supposed war wound, Winkler said, was probably a fabrication. He said those who claimed they saw Black Hawk shot as he hid behind a horse had never met Black Hawk. And it is doubtful a gun of that era could penetrate a horse or anything behind the horse, he added.

Winkler said reports of Black Hawk's tuberculosis are unproven, something a tissue sample could confirm or deny.

Often, settlers blamed American Indian raids on the most famous American Indian they knew of, so Black Hawk bore responsibility for crimes he didn't commit, Winkler said. And, some accounts of the Black Hawk war describe the American Indians' efforts as futile and weak.

In reality, judging from the casualties among the settlers and the $1.5 million in damages, the American Indians waged a successful campaign. Winkler said they did so with minimal losses.

Jim Young, a member of the Utah County Centennial Commission, said the county wants to honor Chief Black Hawk during the centennial celebration.

"There is an interest in having him brought back and buried in the area where he was chief," Young said. "We have to do it in a way that is sensitive to the Indian nations."

Young said a secure site, protected from vandalism is required as well as approval from American Indian tribal leadership.

Spanish Fork has ventured a tentative proposal for a burial site. Mayor Marie Huff said the city would bury Black Hawk in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

"We're not going to make a move until we know exactly what they want," she said. "The Indians have many traditions, and we want to abide by those."