wildly curious
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Playing Indian at the Wellsville Sham Battle

Robert Gehrke

For almost a century, the citizens of Wellsville, Utah, have held an annual spectacle called the “Sham Battle.” It’s an historical reënactment, with white people costumed as Native American Indians attacking Mormon settlers. But the 19th-century battle it purports to depict isn’t the full story, which, of course, is much more complicated. Monday, we’re talking about the Wellsville Sham Battle and the long history in this country of white people dressing up and acting like Indians.


  • Robert Gehrke is a columnist at the Salt Lake Tribune. Read his article about the Wellsville Sham Battle.
  • Philip Deloria is a professor of American culture and history at the University of Michigan. He's an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the author of several books on Native American history, including Playing Indian [Independent bookstores|Amazon].

Robert Gehrke took a video of the Sham Battle during the recent Wellsville Founders Day celebration.

Update from KUER'sJulia Ritchey and the Salt Lake Tribune's Courtney Tanner:

Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.