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Skirmish at Bear Paw

These two petroglyph monuments mark the left and right limits of the seven thousand year old Bear Paw battlefield.

The Skirmish at Bear Paw occurred on day four of the battle. Due to heavy losses, the Proto-Uto-Aztecans fighting in the confined spaces of Black Wash Gap and Black Canyon were forced to execute a tactical manuver that had worked many times over the course of the previous four thousand years. They evacuated their positions at Tortoise Mountain, Sandal Hill, Black Wash, Flat-Top and Black Canyon Site "P" and fought a running battle down Black Canyon, rounded Black Knob and turned East toward the Mudd Hills. Their relocation to a more defendable position continued moving toward the arroyo near the current day location of the cross-roads at Opal Mountain and Fossil Bed roads.


Rounding the Heel-of-the-Boot and gaining the arroyo, the group turned northeast moved past the Toe-of-the-Boot and progressed to the 'Shoe' at Hinkley Gate. At Hinkley Gate the group divided forces; half joined those struggling to hold back the attackers from Murphy's Well, the remainder continued the running battle toward the Tortoise Head Gap.


The skirmish at Bear Paw was the largest engagement of the entire battle. It is estimated that some six to eight thousand warriors fought hand-to-hand combat using knives, clubs, rocks, fists and anything they could get their hands on. For the Proto-Hokan on the outside periphery, their Atlatl and Darts rained havoc on the beleaguered defenders. The estimated loss of life for this one fight alone is around four to five thousand.


In the future, this entire final battle of the war will be referred to as the Battle of Bear Paw but for our purpose here, this single event must remain a skirmish.

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