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Lewis, Philip Beesom. Special Collections, Joseph F. Photocopy and typescript also available in the CHL. Letter to John Young, Oct. Department of the Interior. Miscellaneous, Box Lingenfelter, Richard E. Lorton, William B. Goodman III. Los Angeles, Lotchin, Roger W. San Francisco, — From Hamlet to City. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Loveland, Jerry K.
Low, Charles P. Some Recollections by Captain Charles P. Boston: George H. Ellis, Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Lydecker, Robert C. Archives of Hawaii Publication 1. Lyman, Amasa. Lyman, Edward Leo. Reno: University of Nevada Press, George Ellsworth, eds. MacKinnon, William P. Norman, OK: Arthur H. MacLennan, Carol A. MacNeil, Heather. Metuchen, N. Madsen, Brigham. Madsen, Steven K. Magrath and District History Association. Irrigation Builders. Lethbridge, Alberta: Southern Printing, Malo, David. Hawaiian Antiquities Moolelo Hawaii.
Translated by N. Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette, Manley, Lewis William. San Jose, Calif. Solomon Spaulding. Maui Historical Society. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith. McCue, Robert J. McGee, M. McKenzie, Thomas. McLaws, Monte Burr. Studies in Mormon History 2. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co. Menefee, Eugene L.
Los Angeles: Historic Record Co. Mercer, Mildred A. Alsop, and Mary Helen Parsons, ed. Michener, James A. New York: Random House, Miles, Lillian E. Redlands, Calif. Milikien, Herbert C. Mills, Peter R. Sesquicentennial ed. Mitchell, Donald D. Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture. Bishop Estate, Molen, Simpson. Journals, —57, — Moraga, Gabriel. Edited by Donald C. Morgan, Dale L.
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Honolulu: Hawaiian Service, Nordhoff, Charles. Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands. Nusbaumer, Louis. Edited by George Koenig. Oaks, Dallin H. Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity. Olsen, Andrew D. Olsen, Joseph William. Biography of Erastus Snow. Thesis, Brigham Young University, Orton, Chad M. Boston: State Street Trust, Overson, Margaret J. Mesa, AZ: Printed by author, Owens, Kenneth N.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, John Sutter and a Wider West. Packer, Boyd K. The Holy Temple. Palmer, A. Church in Chile. Delbert, and Mark L. Historical Memoirs of New California , trans. Park, Clara Horne. Joseph Horne, Pioneer of Parrish, Alan K. Cannon, — Parsons, George Frederic. The Life and Adventures of James W. Marshall, the Discoverer of Gold in California. Sacramento: James W. Marshall and W. Burke, Parsons, Robert E. Nyman and Charles D.
Tate Jr. Patton, Annaleone D. California Mormons by Sail and Trail. Paul, Rodman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Perkins, George E. Pioneers of the Western Desert. Los Angeles: Wetzel Publishing Co. Peterson, Charles S. Peterson, Gary M. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, Peterson, John Alton. Peterson, Paul H. The Mormon Reformation. Pettit, Edwin. Biography of Edwin Pettit: — Salt Lake City: Arrow Press, n. Phelps, W. Salt Lake City: W. Phillips, Clifton Jackson. Harvard East Asian Monographs Pierce, Richard A. Kingston, Ontario: Limestone, Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude.
Poll, Richard Douglas, et al. Poll, Richard Douglas. Pope, Willis T. Manual of Wayside Plants of Hawaii. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Poulsen, Larry N. Powell, Allan Kent, ed. Utah History Encyclopedia. Powers, Ramon, and Gene Younger. Pratt, Addison. Pratt, Orson. Liverpool: R. James, The Essential Orson Pratt. Foreword by David J. Classics in Mormon Thought 2. Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, Remarkable Visions. Pratt, Parley Parker. New York: Russell Brothers, Collection, ca. The Essential Parley P. Foreword by Peter L. Henry Phinehas Richards, Papers, — San Francisco, New York: W.
Sandford, Preston, Richard. Price, Rex Thomas, Jr. Pritchard, James L. The Overland Diary of James A. Pritchard from Kentucky to California in Edited by Dale L. Denver: Old West Publishing Co. Autobiography of Parley P. Pugh, Mary Jo. Providing Reference Services for Archives and Manuscripts. Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Samuel H.
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A shorter version of this work has been published as Richard L. Schmitt, Robert C. Demographic Statistics of Hawaii: — The Missionary Censuses of Hawaii. Pacific Anthropological Records Honolulu: Department of Anthropology, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Schoofs, Robert. Edited by Louis Boeynaems. Revised by Fay Wren Midkiff. Hawaii: Sturgis, Great Salt Lake City, Seegmiller, Janet Burton. Sessions, Gene A. Seventies Quorum, records, — Severance, Luther. Shaffer, Donald Robert. Hawaiian Mission, — Shearer, Arthur. Sheridan, Sol D.
History of Ventura County, California. Chicago: S. Publishing Co. Shuck, Oscar T. Representative and Leading Men of the Pacific. San Francisco: Bacon, Silverman, Jane L. Sirrine, Emeline Lane. Slaughter, William W. Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, Smart, Donna Toland, ed.
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- Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Illinois (1995) ~ Edited by H. Dean Garrett.
The original Sessions diaries used in compiling this volume are housed in the CHL. Smart, William B. Smart, eds. Over the Rim: The Parley P. Pratt Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, — Smith, Elias. A typescript of these journals can be found in Sarah C. Thomas, comp. Thomas, . Smith, Joseph Fielding, comp. Life of Joseph F. Smith, Lucy. Liverpool: Orson Pratt, Smith, Pauline Udall.
Captain Jefferson Hunt of the Mormon Battalion. With the assistance of Alison Comish Thorne. Salt Lake City: Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. Foundation, Smith, Silas Sanford.
Smoot, Mary Ellen, and Marilyn Sherriff. Bountiful, UT: by the authors, Snow, Eliza R. Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow. Sonne, Conway B. World of Wakara. San Antonio, TX: Naylor, Sorensen, Parry D. Gihon, and James Nisbet. New York: D. Appleton, Spencer, Clarissa Young, and Mabel Harmer. Brigham Young at Home. Spencer, Orson. Crowel, A. Spencer, B. Spurrier, Joseph H. Hong Kong: Joseph H. Spurrier, Stellman, Louis J. In today's LDS Church the highest positions of power remain. Joseph Smith would modify that passage to "pure and delightsome" in a subsequent edition of the scripture but that change would be lost for nearly a century and a half before being restored in Treasure digging is essentially a form of grave-robbery, a sacrilege against the dead.
Samuel Morris Brown. Although there is a gram of merit in the argument decrying ex post facto judgements, what is lost in the fracas is that, in their grave robbing if not in their racist theorizing, the original "collectors" most absolutely did not abide by the Christian European standards of their time but demonstrably outraged them. Grave robbing, not to mention murder and theft, have always been against Christian European law.
Barbara Alice Mann Seneca Descent Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism, began his career in the money-digging business in up-state New York in the early nineteenth century. Smith's early employment included digging for treasure, aided by the use of seer stones, at least some of which were Native artifacts.
After publishing this translation as the Book of Mormon and building a small following and relocating to Kirtland, Ohio, Smith would also acquire and translate some Egyptian papyri. This translation would become known as the Book of Abraham. Both of these texts remain integral parts of today's Latter-day Saint scriptural canon. The Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham both owe their origins to the practice of grave-robbery, an offense not just today but also at the time of their production. Joseph Smith and other European treasure seekers in the nineteenth century did not accord the graves of American Indians and Egyptians the same amount of respect they expected for those of their own relatives.
During Joseph Smith's early employment as a treasure seeker, he would conjure the dead who appeared to him in the form of treasure guardians and angels. Joseph Smith's treasure quests took place primarily in land taken by European Americans from the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy under dubious circumstances. Coercion, fraud, bribery, betrayals, and violent invasions marked the circumstances that led to the loss of Haudenosaunee land.
From an Indigenous perspective the colonial invasion and displacement of the Haudenosaunee constituted a holocaust or genocide. Seneca descendant Arthur C. Parker, writing in , would describe the military campaigns against the Haudenosaunee as a "hollocaust. If we retrospectively evaluate the violent displacement of the Seneca by the standards set by the United Nations in , the American patriots had likewise engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois.
This campaign is one that involved actions such as killing Indians, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting "conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" that were "committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. The treasure hunting methods that the Mormon prophet engaged in as part of his production of scripture were part of a larger cultural phenomenon through which settler colonists raided the newly acquired ruins and graves of the Haudenosaunee and then invented narratives that credited the impressive earth works and other evidences of civilization to peoples other than the Natives they had displaced.
Prior to the betrayals in the aftermath of the American Revolution by both the British and the Americans, the Haudenosaunee had created an agriculturally based, democratic society that had thrived for centuries in what is now known as New York. When the archaeological record is evaluated in combination with oral tradition then the evidence indicates that the Haudenosaunee, along with the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Lenape, were responsible for the building of the earthworks and mounds that had inspired the imagination.
By about CE the Lamanites, originally claimed to be the ancestors of American Indians, had purportedly annihilated the civilized Nephites after a millennium of nearly constant warfare. When we interviewed G.
Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: The New England States
The Book of Mormon lent frontier myths the theological status of the word of God while denying the cultural accomplishments of the Shawnee, Cherokee, Haudenosaunee, and Lenape. The ideas that a more civilized race, now vanished, were responsible for "fortified works" destroyed by the ancestors of American Indians were "widely shared notions" developed over multiple generations and "ingrained by the s, and constantly confirmed through the most common of activities: digging and collecting, touching and telling.
It appears that the items Joseph Smith would have encountered while digging up Haudenosaunee burial mounds colored his interpretation of the archaeological record. He appears to have projected evidence of colonial conflict and European trade goods back into the ancient past. His Book of Mormon presented ancient white Nephite civilizations as riding horses and raising cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, barley, and oats while using technologies such as steel, brass, glass, plows, and wheels.
These European animals, plants, and technologies were not actually present in the Americas during the times of the Book of Mormon but had more recently been incorporated into Haudenosaunee culture over more than two centuries of trade and interaction with European colonists. In fact, the Haundenosaunee had begun preferentially burying European trade goods with the dead beginning with the colonial trade in the sixteenth century precisely because these items were new. The Mormon prophet's encounters with European animals, plants, and technology in burial mounds that had been preferentially buried with the dead over a couple of centuries appear to have played an important part in how he imagined ancient America through the medium of a seer stone.
The Book of Mormon is not only prejudicial in its implication that American Indians were not capable of creating civilizations without inspiration from the cultures of the Old World, it makes explicitly. The scripture's ancient white narrator, Nephi, while reportedly writing in Reformed Egyptian, declares that God punished the Lamanites, purported ancestors of American Indians, with a dark skin for their wickedness: "wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, therefore the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
A community that today rejects racism in all its forms cannot continue to present the Book of Mormon as a record of the ancestors of American Indians. The gold plates that Joseph Smith says he found would not have been his to take even by the ethical standards of his own time and place. If they actually existed, then they would rightfully have belonged to the Seneca from whose graves or ruins they were taken.
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The anachronisms in the Book of Mormon suggest that ancient gold plates may never have existed at all. Yet, not confronting these issues forthrightly leaves the story of the Book of Mormon's unearthing as a convenient justification for the legitimacy of continued theft and desecration of antiquities, a practice continuing into the present in Mormon communities.
The Mormon prophet must have been haunted by the recent annihilation and removal of American Indians that had made his colonial society possible. As he tried to come to terms with these injustices he appears to have drawn from the racist theology in the surrounding culture to produce a sacred text that gave those ideas the veneer of scripture. While the book he produced is complex and has countervailing teachings of racial mutability and aspirations toward equality, it nonetheless reified prejudices denying cultural accomplishments of Native Americans and attributed skin color to a curse from God for wickedness.
Rhetoric rejecting racism does not by itself undo these injustices. In its recent efforts to be more transparent about its own history, the LDS Church posted an essay about "Book of Mormon Translation" on its website in and published a photo of one of Joseph Smith's seer stones as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project in The essay acknowledged Joseph Smith's use of seer stones in the translation process he used to produce scripture and his references to them using the biblical terms Urim and Thummim. Smith reported finding the interpreters that he called the Urim and Thummim with the plates and using them for part of the work.
The small oval stone that he used for most of the translation process he claims to have found years before buried in the ground. The Mormon prophet would typically place the seer stone in a hat into which he would bury his face to block out light and dictate the narrative that would become the Book of Mormon. Henry Timberlake who visited the Cherokee in reported that these stones "are of great value. She notes that the "community medicine bags" containing the stones "were generally well-guarded" and were "highly prized and very sacred. The seer stone now made public is but one of many acquired and used by Joseph Smith and his contemporaries.
At least two other stones used by Smith are held in the First Presidency's vault of the LDS Church and another is held in the Wilford Wood museum in Bountiful, Utah along with a large collection of other Native artifacts. Some of the stones are likely artifacts called spindle whorls and gorgets by archaeologists. The sandy colored artifact in the Wood museum has a hole bored through the middle and indentations worked in a circular style around the hole.
This artifact matches the description of one found by Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois along the Mississippi River where "mound dappled 'bluffs of the Mississippi' meet the river.
A stone found by Elias Pulsipher in a burial site near Kirtland, Ohio is probably a "trapezoidal gorget. The John Whitmer family seer stone appears to be a "concave-sided rectangular gorget," also called a "reel-shaped gorget," resembling those found in New York, Delaware, and Ohio.
Joseph Smith's ownership of one of his seer stones would be called into question during his lifetime, provoking a strong reaction. The stone in question was a dark brown stone, described as "about the size of a hen's egg, and shaped like a baby's shoe. Smith subsequently built a reputation using this stone for scrying and had even returned the stone to Chase for about a year.
When his neighbor asked for the stone back in , after some notoriety had come his way, Smith refused, insisting "you cannot have it. See Brooke, The Refiner's Fire. The leather bag containing the stone Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon appears to have been made by his wife, Emma. See: Quinn, Early Mormonism, After the publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith continued to disturb and collect bones and artifacts from Indigenous graves and encouraged his followers' engagement in similar practices. Smith declared the man to be "Zelph," a Lamanite from whom the curse of a dark skin had been partially removed, whose thigh had been injured and healed, and who had been killed by an arrow in the last great battle between the Nephites and Lamanites.
Wilford Woodruff claimed to have taken the skeleton's thigh bone with him to Missouri where he was "anxious" to rebury it. Kimball described having "very peculiar feelings, to see the bones of our fellow creatures scattered in this matter" and recorded that "Elder B. Young has yet the arrow in his possession. Key followers, both of whom would later become Church Presidents, kept bones and other grave goods as souvenirs; at least one of which may yet be in the possession of the LDS Church. Another online essay posted in by the LDS Church focuses on the Book of Abraham, a scriptural text also emerging from the disturbance of ancient Egyptian graves.
The focus of the essay, though, is not about the ethical circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Egyptian papyri from which Joseph Smith claimed to translate the scriptural narrative. Rather, the essay attempts to provide plausible explanations for the disconcerting fact that the Egyptian papyri, currently in the possession of the LDS Church, are identified by scholars "as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies" and date to many centuries after the life of Abraham.
The essay suggests that the translations may have come from missing parts of the papyri or, alternatively, invites readers to consider "a broader definition of the words translator and translation. Rather the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. The essay devotes no attention at all to the racist teachings in the Book of Abraham or to the important social role that the funerary text would have played for the deceased.
The anonymously authored essay masks with euphemism the violence, plunder, and grave robbery in the acquisition of the papyri. The essay describes Michael Chandler, the dealer who sold the mummies, as "an entrepreneur. It also seems to imply that the papyri were acquired in Lebolo's official capacity, which does not appear to have been what actually happened.
While the questionable ethics in the acquisition of the mummies and papyri are largely ignored in the Church's essay, an LDS tour guide and scholar have struggled with them. Bruce H. Porter, a tour guide with JustLDS. Donl Peterson acknowledged that Napoleon's invasion introduced Europe "to the exotic land of Nile, with its myriad pyramids, temples, tombs, obelisks, and mummies waiting to be explored, savored, and, sadly, plundered.
The racist theology exuding from the Book of Abraham is palpable. In this "translation" of Egyptian papyri Joseph Smith would give nineteenth century folkloric justifications for the enslavement of Africans, the veneer of scripture. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land. The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, spring that race which preserved the curse in the land.
A contemporary observer recorded the disrespect with which Joseph Smith had treated the Egyptian dead in his quest for written manuscripts. Henry Caswell to a tour of the chamber above her home. She shewed me a wretched cabinet, in which were four naked mummies frightfully disfigured, and in fact, most disgusting relics of mortality. She accounted for the disfigured condition of the mummies by a circumstance rather illustrative of the back-woods.
Some difficulty having been found in unrolling the papyrus which enveloped them, an axe was applied, by which the unfortunate mummies were literally chopped open. Joseph Smith's treatment of Egyptian dead was recognized as problematic even during his lifetime yet little discussion of the ethical issues of chopping open mummies is apparent among Latter-day Saint scholars today.
The value placed on the written word in this mistreatment of the dead is reminiscent of the Book of Mormon character Nephi's violent murder of Laban, a record-keeper in Jerusalem around BCE. In this story Nephi's older brother Laman, the purported progenitor of American Indians, first attempted to acquire a set of brass plates, anachronistically containing the five books of Moses. After his failure the brothers attempted to purchase the plates, but failed when Laban stole their wealth. In order to ensure that his descendants in the Americas would have access to the written word of God, Nephi returned a third time, alone, and decapitated a drunken Laban with his own sword and then stole both the sword and the plates.
It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle in unbelief. A theology that justifies the chopping open of mummies would set the tone for Latter-day settler colonists who continue to desecrate the dead on the battlefield, in cemeteries, and ruins well into the twenty-first century. From the founding of the faith in the s through the assassination of Joseph Smith in , Mormons would frequently be accused of collusion with Indians by surrounding white settlers.
Viewed suspiciously for their scriptural accounts proclaiming a chosen status for American Indians, accused of intermarrying and sullying the white race, and suspected of "tampering" with Indian tribes against the interests of the federal government, Mormons drew from their neighbors similar mistreatment to that otherwise reserved for Indigenous peoples.
Mormons experienced a series of removals, from Kirtland, Ohio, and then from Jackson County, Missouri to a "reserve" in Clay County, and then later in Caldwell, County. After conflict with neighbors resulted in an extermination order issued by the governor of Missouri, Mormons would flee to Nauvoo, Illinois. During the migration west Young demonstrated the ability to set aside evangelization efforts to facilitate mutually agreeable arrangements for Mormon passage and trade with Potawatomi and Omaha.
Sparked after Mormons murdered a Ute man by the name of Old Bishop, a resulting conflict would include an order from Young for the Nauvoo Legion to exterminate all "hostile" Indians and result in the "bloodiest week of Indian killing in Utah history. James Blake, to a medical institution in Washington, D. By the end of the conflict, one Mormon and approximately Utes had lost their lives. Mormon families then took in the widows and children as servants or slaves, in an effort to "make white people out of them. Young's policies would continue to vacillate over time. By November he was advocating for the removal of Indians by the federal government.
By mid he recommended feeding the Indians conceding "it is cheaper by far, yes by hundreds and thousands of dollars cheaper to pay such losses, than raise an expedition to fight Indians. By , in the midst of Utah's Black Hawk War, Young would reconsider his earlier views, welcome the return of Indians to live among Mormons, and acknowledge the validity of their right to occupy the land where they lived, hunted, and buried their fathers. He did not, however, advocate Mormon departure from most of that Indian land. Rather, he encouraged Mormons to stay, raise enough grain to feed the Indians and to treat them kindly.
Nineteenth century settler colonialism would set the tone for politics in the following centuries. The theological legacy of grave-robbery intersects with Mormon tendencies to designate American Indians as Lamanites from the Book of Mormon. The violence today is more subtle and systemic. Mormon members might not recognize some of their everyday behaviors as racist or the ways that the political systems they support continue to deprive American Indians of basic human rights. Unrecognized biases in these spaces emanate from this structural and systemic framework, ignoring present-day Native American perspectives, beliefs, and cultural practices.
Charles Wilkinson describes the colonial domination in southern Utah in the s in ways that echo the experiences of the authors in the region during subsequent decades. Mormons controlled state government. Memories of this violent history are passed down in the oral tradition from Native American elders and bestowed upon children in Indigenous communities in Utah and neighboring states. Three recent examples should bring the implications of this legacy to bear upon readers for consideration and to the LDS Church for more serious action.
First, Operation Cerberus Action, "the nation's largest investigation of archaeological and cultural artifact thefts," took place in the southeastern region of Utah in the small town of Blanding during the first decade of the twentieth-first century. The town, its businesses, and politics are mostly dominated by white Mormons. In its outskirts live Native American communities. Local tribes in the area, namely the Navajo Dine and Ute, regularly observe the looting of ancient Anasazi ruins and sites with many of the stolen artifacts being traded and sold.
It had become so commonplace that it was considered to be a harmless everyday activity by non-Native residents of the region. A sting operation led by the Bureau of Land Management and the Justice Department to bring down the illegal artifact network resulted in the arrest of twenty-five residents of mostly Mormon Blanding.
These Mormon settler colonists, who expressed spiritual ties to American Indians through the stories of the Book of Mormon, did not recognize as criminal their continuation of the long-standing tradition of grave-robbery from which the Mormon scripture had originated. The bust would bring considerable turmoil to the community, resulting in nineteen guilty pleas, and three suicides but, ultimately, no one was sentenced to prison. The agencies "maintain that the operation was successful and sent a message that looting archaeological sites will not be tolerated.
By extension, the disrespect of Native American remains and the theft of artifacts are not just a violation of past cultures but an assault on living descendants and other tribal people whose cemeteries still do not receive the same respect that contemporary white Mormon residents give to the burial places of their own ancestors.
A second example is the Bears Ears Coalition. Originally starting as Dine Bikeyah, the region's tribes began negotiations with local officials, the state of Utah, and U. Congressional Representative Rob Bishop, to formulate a plan to protect the ecologically delicate and archaeologically rich land area of some 1. Ute tribal member Malcom Lehi explains, "We can still hear the songs and prayers of our ancestors on every mesa and in every canyon.
Bishop, for example, drafted a land-use bill with an unprecedented "gag rule" stipulating that federal agencies "cannot consider or take into account any tribal recommendation that has not been endorsed in advance by either the state of Utah or a local county commission. The Bears Ears Coalition represents the Navajo, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni nations, a united group of tribes asserting their sovereignty together and acting in the interest of preserving cultural heritage. After seeing the effort subverted by Bishop despite their five years of negotiation, the coalition has now moved ahead with plans to ask President Barack Obama to designate the federal lands in the area as a national monument, an effort documented by one of the authors in a new auto-ethnographic film.
Reaching an impasse they moved towards the federal government for nation-to-nation negotiations instead. The failure of local leaders of Utah Mormon communities to take the requests of tribes seriously illustrates the spiritual and religious disconnect Mormons continue to have with Native American communities over the sacred nature of this particular landscape. The LDS Church leadership could seize this opportunity to support and back up an impressive coalition of nations. If these diverse Indigenous nations that have rarely sat down together for a common purpose in their tumultuous history can come together for the protection of these sacred lands then surely there is a place for reconciliation with Mormons too.
Such an alliance. The implications of the perpetuation of racism in Mormon settler colonial thought reached a public crescendo in a third example occurring during January A group of armed men under the leadership of Mormons Ammon and Ryan Bundy and LaVoy Finicum began an occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon as a protest against federal land policies and the incarceration of the ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond on arson charges, given stronger teeth under antiterrorism legislation.
Among the protestors was a man who called himself "Captain Moroni" after a white Nephite freedom fighter in the Book of Mormon. Bundy implicitly invoked the theology of white supremacy from the Book of Mormon, when he claimed, "We also recognize that the Native Americans had the claim to the land, but they lost that claim. There are things to learn from the past, but the current culture is the most important. Senate to ratify a treaty suggest that the Northern Paiutes still have legitimate claim to Malheur Wildlife Refuge, certainly more so than out-of-state ranchers.
Mormon teachings that ancestors of the American Indians had lost their claim to the land likely underpinned Bundy's statement and the militants' disregard for Indigenous cultures. In this respect, they echoed similar views of Brigham Young from a century and a half ago. The settler colonialism exemplified in the denigration of American Indians as Lamanites of the Book of Mormon, denial of Indigenous rights to the land, decapitation of Indian bodies killed in a lopsided battle, and the enslavement of Indian women and children are only a few generations in the past.
Racism against Native Americans today takes on more subtle forms. It can be seen in the systemic structures of power that continue to enable the desecration of Indian graves by prominent Mormons who receive little more than light punishments when caught by federal authorities. Operation Cerberus Action, Bears Ears Coalition, and the occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge illustrate that Mormon desecration of Indian cemeteries and sacred sites was not just a distant offense. To its credit, the LDS Church did issue a press release denouncing the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuged Yet, it took no public action to defuse this situation or the similar ones described here.
It has missed opportunities to be a moral and political leader in protecting Native sacred sites on public lands while simultaneously claiming to reject racism in any form. Despites its egalitarian online rhetoric, the LDS Church would play a key role in a revival of efforts in the twenty-first century to use DNA from Native bodies, once again taken without appropriate permission, in an ill-fated endeavor to validate Book of Mormon narratives.
My people wonder, what is really going on here? To us, any part of ourselves is sacred. Scientists say it's just DNA. For an. Indian, it is not just DNA, it is part of a person, it is sacred, with deep religious significance. It is part of the essence of a. The raiding of American Indian and Egyptian graves early in the nineteenth century fueled the rise of particularly virulent forms of scientific racism that thrived well into the twentieth century. A primary justification given for taking the bodies of the dead, either in burial mounds or on the battlefield, was the emerging practices of physiometrics, phrenology, and physiognomy that disguised racism as science by conducting measurements on human skulls, faces, and bodies and using purported differences to justify racial hierarchies.
The skulls of Utes decapitated on the battlefield in the Utah Valley likely became a part of these efforts to measure cranial capacity as a way of suggesting the inferiority of American Indians. The racial hierarchies produced through this abuse of the dead inevitably placed white Europeans at the highest levels and Africans and American Indians at or near the bottom. The data behind these claims were problematic from the beginning, ranging from forged to conveniently selective. A new strain of racial science focused on DNA has gained a popular following among some Mormons. Meldrum, and others like him, who have misused genetic science, combined with nineteenth-century Mormon ideas about Mound Builders, to falsely proclaim the DNA of some American Indians validates the historical claims of the Book of Mormon.
Meldrum, though, was not the first Mormon scholar or scientist to turn to DNA with controversial hopes of vindicating Mormon claims that American Indian ancestors came from Israel and the ancient Near East. Around the turn of the twenty-first century, Brigham Young University, whose scholars had expressed initial optimism about genetic evidence providing support for the Book of Mormon's historical claims, acquired one of the largest collections of American Indian and Indigenous DNA samples in the world.
They acquired this collection despite ethical objections raised by review boards in New Zealand, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Native Heritage Project. Whether or not that fallout with BYU was related to ethics, the results of the research, or other reasons is unclear. GeneTree, a company identified as a collaborator with Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, became a source of Direct-to-Consumer genetic-genealogy research tools and would be acquired by Ancestry in In the various moves between the Foundation, these companies and another Sorenson affiliate, Relative.
Genetics, data from individual DNA samples, if not the bodily substances themselves, have allegedly passed hands unless contributors opted out, a poorly announced and difficult process according to customers. A more ethical approach would have secured additional informed consent of contributors before transferring these bodily samples or data derived from them. Anthropologist Kim Tallbear outlines some ethical concerns about Mormon ties to GeneTree, and invites more research on the topic. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has historically taken a special interest not only in the conversion of Native Americans to Mormonism but also more recently in Native American genetic history.
Church doctrine asserts that Native Americans are the descendants of Lamanites, a supposed lost tribe of Israel, and are sinners marked by God with dark skin. Those who were good remained white, "fair and beautiful. That GeneTree's commercial decisions have been in some way shaped by that set of beliefs is a reasonable hypothesis. But I will leave it to other researchers more directly concerned with the relationships between Western religion and science to investigate connections between GeneTree and Mormon religious preoccupation.
The focus of Tallbear's evaluation is on the industry of Direct-to-Consumer genetic ancestry testing. Our focus is on the LDS Church's long history of using Indigenous artifacts, grave goods, and bodies to further a theological agenda tightly connected to race and settler colonialism. The long history of abuse outlined here raises questions about whether or not the LDS Church, its affiliated universities, and the companies and foundations with prominent Mormon leadership are acting responsibly and ethically with Native American and other Indigenous DNA they have acquired.
We are suggesting that collecting DNA samples from Indigenous peoples at LDS Churches, while circumventing the ethical review processes of tribal and international governments in the twenty-first century, is akin to stealing Indian skeletons and grave goods from burial mounds in the nineteenth. Transporting those bodily substances and their signifiers between universities, foundations, and companies without further permission from donors and governments is likewise akin to trafficking in and profiting from human body parts.
These activities should not be taking place in institutions that reject racism in all its forms. In addition to its new essay acknowledging the lack of DNA support for the Book of Mormon, the LDS Church has modified the introduction and chapter headings in the Book of Mormon to make the scriptural interpretations less explicitly racist and more compatible with DNA research indicating an Asian origin of American Indians.
Rodney Meldrum's abuses echo the physiometrics of nineteenth-century racial science. Meldrum makes it clear to his readers that he preferences scripture over science and writes from a creationist perspective. He makes assertions that a good scientist clearly would not support. He falsely claims, "the primary races.
He attributes the Book of Mormon's curse of a dark skin on Lamanites as punishment for iniquity and intermarriage with members of the Asian race who he claims had also immigrated to the Americas. After a textual analysis demonstrating that an historically accurate Book of Mormon would require genetic descendants among American Indians, he points to mtDNA haplogroup X as the missing link connecting ancient Israel included in his European race to North American Indians.
To add insult to injury, he disparages the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act as creating confusion and blames the holocausts of both American Indians and Jews on "the consequences of turning away from the God of Heaven which brings upon them His judgements. While press releases, essays on its website, and changes to the Book of Mormon would make it appear the LDS Church is taking steps towards rejecting racism, its disciplinary actions speak louder than its rhetoric. When the accumulation of DNA evidence first made it clear that there was no apparent linkage between ancient America and Israel within the time frame of the Book of Mormon, the Church initiated and then suspended disciplinary action against anthropologist Thomas Murphy, one of the authors.
Murphy and Southerton, who were using findings from genetics to challenge Mormon racism, experienced official retaliation. If an institution is genuinely repudiating racism in any form then one is left wondering why it disciplines those challenging racism while only mildly rebuking those who are openly racist.
There is a fundamental problem underlying the theology of Mormonism. The gold plates and papyri from which Joseph Smith claimed to translate scripture and the seer stones that he used for this purpose would not have rightfully belonged to him in the first place. These items appear to have been stolen from the graves of the dead, left exposed and unprotected by settler colonial forces that violently and illegitimately overran and usurped the authority of Indigenous peoples. The violation of the dead must have haunted the Mormon seer's dreams and visions and, consequently, the narratives he produced included racist justifications for genocidal violence against Indigenous people.
Joseph Smith continued throughout his career to disturb the graves of more Indigenous peoples, seeking from the bones and burial goods validation for his scriptural productions. The scriptural narratives continued to serve Mormons as justification for the theft of more. Indigenous land in the Great Basin and the displacement of its rightful owners. Latter-day Saint legislators obstruct efforts by tribes to protect cultural resources and propose legislation that would undermine tribal sovereignty. Meanwhile, Brigham Young University and Mormon-owned foundations and companies have disregarded ethical guidelines and the sovereignty of Indigenous and international nations in the collection and use of Indigenous DNA in a failed attempt to provide genetic validation for racist scriptural narratives.
Despite this history, the LDS Church is proclaiming on its website and in press releases that it repudiates racism in any form. Mormons are not unique in their participation in the abuse of human rights. Settler colonists more generally spun myths and "rather transparent justifications for violent land-grabbing. Repatriation is inextricably linked to religious freedom, especially when sacred objects and the bodies of the dead and living people are involved.
The "refusal to return stolen or improperly acquired sacred material has [adverse impacts] upon the First Amendment rights of tribal religious practitioners, and upon basic property rights. Jack F. Trope and Walter R. Echo-Hawk summarize the problem and its impact upon religious freedom. NAGPRA is part of a larger historical tragedy: the failure of the United States Government and other institutions, to understand and respect the spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices of Native people.
Governmental policies that threaten Native American religions are not merely historical anachronisms but continue to have devastating impact upon contemporary Native Americans. Repatriation is not just a national issue in the United States, it is an international one as well. Article 11 articulates Indigenous people's right "to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as. Churches with an international reach should recognize the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples around the world. Indigenous people still face many obstacles in exercising sovereignty and remain dependent, in many respects, on the actions of nation-states.
Honor Keeler, citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Chair of the Association on American Indian Affairs Working Group on International Repatriation, states, "Indigenous peoples themselves have come to be accepted as international political entities. However, they still do not have the voting power or political status of nation-states in the international nation-state legal structure. In this article we assert that Mormon scriptures and the historical and contemporary efforts to validate them originated with items taken from Indigenous people without proper consent.
An ethical response will go beyond these statutory models applying their standards and processes to a religious institution and, very importantly, supporting the sovereignty of tribal and international governments to determine which items ought to be returned and how that process should take place.
It would also apply similar standards to items taken from other countries, including a proactive response to Egypt's efforts to recover stolen antiquities and discussions with ethical review boards of tribal and international governments about the appropriate treatment of bodily substances previously collected at LDS Churches without appropriate community-level approval. Many readers may be as surprised by this request for repatriation of stolen materials related to Mormon scriptural productions as the residents of Blanding were at their arrests. Perhaps, more intriguing, would be the realization that Joseph Smith, himself, engaged in a symbolic act of repatriation in In the s Smith made the gift of a portion of Egyptian papyrus to the Potawatomi Indians visiting him in Nauvoo.
As Samuel Morris Brown explains it, he seems "to have believed that the gift brought the papyri full circle, returning hieroglyphic relics to their rightful heirs, the Book of Mormon peoples. Wilford Woodruff also appears similarly to have recognized the impropriety of taking the thigh bone of the Zelph skeleton and responded by reburying it in Clay County, Missouri.
These various actions of prominent early Mormons make it clear that a call for repatriation is not the application of a modern moral standard to an historical injustice. The injustice was apparent when the infractions began and the primary perpetrators initiated acts of attrition that have yet to be completed. In fact, the continuing assault on Native burials and inappropriate uses of bodily substances illustrate the theological necessity of completing the repatriation process begun by early church leaders if Mormon racism is ever to be eradicated.
Despite its integration of frontier racial myths, the Book of Mormon paradoxically advocates equality and charges its EuroAmerican readers with helping restore political authority and rightful inheritance to American Indians. Imagine what could be accomplished if white Mormon ranchers protested nonviolently in partnership with American Indian tribes, demanding protection of cultural resources and even the return of some public land to its Indigenous occupants.
Echohawk claimed "we were there to listen and learn If so, the requests put forth here may meet a positive response. Anderson refers paternalistically to the Navajo as "children of Lehi" who embrace "the teachings of the Book of Mormon. Recent efforts to consult with tribal leaders, though, indicate that the remorse that may have contributed to Joseph Smith's past act of repatriation and Wilford Woodruff's reburial of a stolen femur may again be resurfacing among church leadership.
Mormon followers have a long history of disrespecting Native peoples and failing to cooperate with laws from the federal government supporting Indigenous sovereignty. If the LDS Church or Community of Christ authorities were to lead by example in approaching Indigenous sovereign nations in a good way then Mormon communities could become allies to Indigenous peoples in setting the highest standards of ethical behavior. Imagine if these churches and others were to surpass and exceed the United States and the rest of the world's countries in the implementation of the best practices of collaboration in the project of Indigenous repatriation.
In effect, the Mormon theological legacy could be restorative to Indigenous communities if they would set a higher moral standard for their members and other churches to follow. The issues raised here are going to be difficult for Mormons to recognize, let alone address. Few Mormons have likely contemplated that the golden plates that Joseph Smith said he found may never have rightfully belonged to him. The apparent Ulunsu'ti, spindle whorls, gorgets, and papyri that Joseph Smith and other Mormons have used in the production of scripture and other spiritual practices appear to have been stolen from the dead and, by implication, from their living descendants.
The graves that past and contemporary Mormons have raided for treasure house the ancestors of the authors of this paper and those of many other living people who care deeply about how our grandparents are treated. Raised in Mormon. We have raised previous concerns about unethical uses of Native American DNA, but our ethical critiques have mostly been ignored while Mormons continue to turn to the graves of our ancestors and the bodies of our living relatives as they search feverishly, but fruitlessly, for any evidence that might back up the historical claims of the Book of Mormon.
The white readers of this essay should ask themselves how they would feel if Native Americans were to dig up the cemeteries that hold their grandparents and then use the objects and bones that they found to buttress stories claiming that white skin was a curse from God and that white people, through their atrocities, had lost the right to the land on which they live. Then, after taking that land forcefully from you, Native people would proclaim to the world that they were not racist in any manner whatsoever. Both the tradition of grave robbery and that of repatriation can be traced back to the founding Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith.
Requesting repatriation today is not only a process of attempting to correct an historical wrong. No amount of reconciliation can conceivably be enough to undo entirely the damage of a settler colonial structure that remains deeply embedded in our institutions, land tenure, and simply accepted as normal in much of mainstream American culture. An embrace of Indigenous ownership of sacred objects, cemeteries, and bodily substances can be an inclusive and collaborative gesture that might change the trajectory from one of abuse to one of healing. Respect for the dead is a value shared by almost all cultures.
Mormons today need to decide if they are going to continue the abuses of the past or if they are going to follow the alternative examples of their early leaders and finish the process of healing and repatriation they began. Undoing centuries of racism cannot be accomplished by public relations alone. As welcome as recent overtures by the LDS Church are, they are insufficient to right the wrongs of the past, particularly when offenses are continuing in the present. In the absence of concrete actions to rectify damage already done, the statements of the LDS Church denouncing racism ring hollow.
Affirmative action can be taken to ensure that general authorities within the church leadership better match the demographics of the membership. Political alliances that help restore access to lands and protection of cultural resources can still be built with Indigenous peoples. Diplomatic relations recognizing and upholding the sovereignty of Indigenous nations can be strengthened. In an act of good faith the LDS Church and the Community of Christ can create an inventory of human remains, DNA samples, grave goods, and sacred artifacts that each has in its possession.
More proactive efforts to halt ongoing desecration of native burial grounds by church members, dispel current uses of racial science by LDS scholars, and to end settler colonial land seizures by militant Mormons are direly needed. Public acknowledgement that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon in the nineteenth-century through a misguided effort to learn American Indian history from the dead rather than the living might help slow its use for racist purposes.