Filed away in the Brigham Young Papers at the Church History Library, there is a document that records the vision of a nineteenth-century prophet. That visionary, however, was not Brigham Young. Rather, it was Arapeen, a leading Ute chief during the Mormons’ first two decades in the Great Basin. That the Saints believed that Arapeen had received a legitimate revelation is revealed in the language they used to categorize the document. John Lowry, Jr., the Manti resident who interpreted for Arapeen, and George Peacock, who acted as scribe, entitled the document “Vision of Arapine on the night of the 4th of Feb 1855.” Later, after it had been sent to Young’s office in Salt Lake City, an unidentified clerk scrawled “The Lord to Arrowpin” in the margins. Arapeen’s vision provides a fascinating window into the Utes’ hybrid religious culture that was in the process of formation in the years following the Mormons’ arrival in 1847.
Arapeen had cautiously welcomed the Saints to the Great Basin. Following the lead of his brother, the (in)famous equestrian and raider Wakara, Arapeen saw the Saints as valuable trading partners and potential allies against the Shoshones and other rivals. Although it is harder to document, it is also likely that Wakara and other Utes believed Mormons were conduits to supernatural power, or puwa, and that close association with these strange newcomers would increase their access to the unseen. Like many Native peoples, the Utes saw the world as inhabited by powerful non-human creatures and spirits who could manifest themselves to individuals through dreams and visions. Dimick Huntington, a prominent Mormon interpreter who spent a great deal of time with Wakara, later reported that, prior to the coming of the Mormons, the Ute had a vision of “the Lord sitting upon a throne dressed in white” and “that there would come to him a race of white people that would be his friends, and he must treat them kindly.” Huntington, and likely Wakara himself, believed the Mormons fulfilled this vision.
During the first years of Mormon settlement, Wakara, Arapeen, and other Utes met with Brigham Young and Latter-day Saints leaders, where they expressed their desires for friendship, trade, and to learn from each other. They often smoked ceremonial tobacco, which Utes and their relatives believed both facilitated access to puwa and symbolically connected people together as allies. In 1850, after hearing Latter-day Saint preaching, Wakara, Arapeen, and hundreds of their people accepted baptism, an act that likely held complex meanings for the Natives that may or may not have coincided with white Mormon understandings of the ritual. Scholars of indigenous contact with European religions have called for a redefinition of the concept of “conversion,” which conventionally has defined baptism as a gateway from one way of life to another, usually in a sense of progression from inferior to superior. Rarely, however, did Native proselytes see the need to abandon their own cultures and adopt wholesale those of the colonizers. Acceptance of a new ritual regime was simply one more channel to access puwa, not a replacement of it.
Scholars such as Linford Fisher have suggested that “affiliation” offers a more nuanced framework within which to understand Native interactions with Christianity than traditional definitions of “conversion.” Paying attention to affiliation illuminates the ebbs and flows of conformance to accepted religious behavior far better than “conversion” as a one-time event that results in changed behavior for the duration of one’s life. Wakara and Arapeen may have accepted baptism, but their affiliation with Mormonism was irregular in the early 1850s. The changes in the land wrought by the American conquest of the West generally, and Mormon settlement specifically, undermined traditional Ute economies and cultures and led to the war that bears Wakara’s Anglicized name (Walker) in 1853-54. In January 1855, after the hostilities had ended and friendship restored between the Saints and the Utes, Wakara died and Arapeen was selected chief in his brother’s stead.
It was in this context that Arapeen visited Mormon leaders in Manti with an announcement that he had received a vision and that the Saints were to translate it, record it, and distribute it among themselves, “that the mormons might all have it.” Arapeen had paid close attention to Mormon idiom during his prior periods of affiliation with the Saints, and when he dictated his account of the vision, he expressed himself using Latter-day Saint concepts of revelation. It is likely, however, that he continued to interpret his vision within traditional Ute notions of puwa as well. Arapeen reported that Wakara had appeared to him and encouraged his brother to “cultivate good peace” with the Mormons and “talk good to the Utes” (likely a reference to using his influence to maintain peace). After this initial vision, Arapeen then described hearing the voice of “the Lord,” which revealed to the Ute leader that Wakara had died of natural causes (contrary to rumors of foul play), and that Arapeen was to succeed his brother as chief. The Lord instructed Arapeen to capture Utes who stole from the Mormons, and to whip and imprison (rather than kill) the culprits for their crimes. Rather than steal, the Utes should learn to raise grain. Recognizing that some Indians were “bad,” the Lord instructed Arapeen that the Mormons were not to sell guns and ammunition to the Utes for the time being. The Lord also told Arapeen that natural resources—land, timber, water, horses, and cattle—belonged to God, not the Indians or the Mormons. As for affiliating with the Saints, the Lord told Arapeen that “it was Good . . . for [him] to go to meeting.”
Many of these declarations reinforced the messages that Euro-American Saints had been preaching to Natives for the last several years. However, Arapeen also drew upon the language of revelation to create space for his people. At the Lord’s command, the Saints of Allred’s Settlement were to provide the Ute with a cow. The chief insisted to his interlocutors “this is the Lords talk and not mine.” Even more boldly, Arapeen reported that “the Lord Said that he often talked to Brigham and now he had come to talk with me.” The Saints were to record and circulate Arapeen’s vision: “If the mormons throwed Away the Lords words the Lord would not go to there [their] meetings.” In the vision, Arapeen therefore used the puwa he had received to maintain autonomy, however limited, for Ute affiliates of Mormonism. Lastly, the Ute prophet testified “that bye bye when all People was Good and at peace [the Lord] would come and live on the earth and not go Back.” Arapeen concluded his account of his vision thus: “I saw three personages and there Garments where [were] white as Snow and as Briliant as the Sun and bye and bye all good People would Apear as they did.” This description likely reflected Arapeen’s understanding of Mormon teachings on the millennium and perhaps of the Three Nephites, topics that he perhaps first heard from Latter-day Saint preachers.
Arapeen’s Vision is a rich document, one that deserves more analysis than I have been able to provide briefly here. Although mediated by Lowry (the interpreter) and Peacock (the scribe), it provides a fascinating window into the hybrid religious cultures constructed by Arapeen and other Ute prophets who chose to affiliate with Mormonism in the nineteenth century. Through their hybrid religious cultures, these Utes could find solidarity with white Mormons while simultaneously and subtly challenge racial and ecclesiastical hierarchies. Lastly, this hybridity allowed Arapeen to pursue puwa through Mormon concepts of revelation.
 “Vision of Arapine on the night of the 4th of Feb 1855,” Brigham Young Office Files, CHL.
 See Jay Miller, “Numic Religion: An Overview of Power in the Great Basin of Native North America,” Anthropos Bd. 78, H. 3/4 (1983): 337-54. I follow Stephen Van Hoak’s spelling for puwa. See Stephen P. Van Hoak, “Waccara’s Utes: Native American Equestrian Adaptations in the Eastern Great Basin, 1776-1886,” Utah Historical Quarterly 67, no. 4 (Fall 1999): 309-30.
 D. B. Huntington, Vocabulary of the Utah and Sho-Sho-Ne, or Snake, dialects, with Indian legends and traditions, including a brief account of the life and death of Wah-ker, the Indian land pirate, 3rd. ed. rev. and enl.(Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Herald Office, 1872), 27.
 See Ronald W. Walker, “Wakara Meets the Mormons: A Case Study in Native American Accommodation, 1848-1852,” Utah Historical Quarterly 70, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 215-37; Miller, “Numic Religion,” 349.
 See Tracy Neal Leavelle, Catholic Calumet: Colonial Conversions in French and Indian North America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).
 Linford D. Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).