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Forgotten central Utah massacre of Paiute Indians remembered 150 years later

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Posted at 9:40 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 23:53:23-04

CIRCEVILLE, Utah -- It's a painful chapter in Utah's history not found in textbooks, but now there's a monument honoring the Paiute Indians killed in the Circleville Massacre.

On Tuesday, crews lowered a granite monument in the central Utah town of Circleville where 15 to 20 Paiute Indians were paiute indiansslaughtered by members of the Utah militia in 1866.

Some historians say it's a time in Utah history that has been swept under the rug.

"The idea is if you ignore it, it didn’t happen," said Albert Winkler.

Winkler is a history archivist at Brigham Young University who has written an article and given lectures about the Circleville Massacre.

"In the spring of 1866, the white people panicked and thought the local Paiute Indians must have something to do with their enemies," Winkler said.

Winkler said the settlers arrested a group of Paiutes and when they tried to escape, they were killed. Settlers also murdered women and children who they feared might reveal their atrocious acts.

"They took them out, hit them on the head, slit their throats in one of the greatest tragedies in Utah history. After all these years, it’s still gut wrenching," Winkler said.

While no one was ever held accountable, the Utah Division of State History, Circleville, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the LDS Historical Department and other historians have partnered with the Paiute Tribal Council to recognize victims with this monument.

"We wanted to have a memorial to remember and hopefully this will not be forgotten," said Dorena Martineau, Paiute Tribe cultural resources director.

While it's a sad episode in the Paiute Tribe's history, they look to the penance as a reminder of their ancestors’ great sacrifice.

"It's is so easy to look upon a group of people negatively and repeat the same kinds of things. We have to draw lines. The loss of human life is never excusable," Winkler said.

Officials will dedicate the memorial in Circleville Friday - 150 years after the massacre occurred.