Thursday, April 20, 2023

Sac and Fox Nation - Joseph Smith Papers

An article about the final volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers includes an image of Joseph Smith preaching the King Follet sermon in April 1944.

(click to enlarge)

On the stand with Joseph are members of the Sac and Fox Nation. Theses tribes were originally from the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan area before a series of wars (and the US government) forced them to relocate to Oklahoma, Iowa, and Missouri. See the note from JSP below.*

A month later, members of the tribe visited Joseph in Nauvoo. He explained that the Book of Mormon told him about their fathers.

23 May 1844 • Thursday
Thursday 23rd.—  rather better. Read Hebrew with , and Counseled with various friends. At 10 A. M. Municipal Court Met  presiding, and <​but there not being a quorum present,​> adjourned for one week. At one P M had a talk with the Sac and Fox Indians in my back kitchen. They said: “When our fathers first came here, this land was inhabited by the Spanish, when the Spaniards were driven off the French came, and then the English and Americans; and our fathers talked a great deal with the Big Spirit.” I <​They​> told them I knew complained <​that​> they had been robbed of their lands by the white, and cruelly treated. I told them I knew they had been wronged, but that we had bought this land and paid our money for it. I advised them not to sell any more land, but to cultivate peace with the different tribes, and with all men; as the Great Spirit wanted them to be united and to live in peace. “The Great Spirit has enabled me to find a book (shewing them a <​the​> Book of Mormon) which told me of <​about​> your fathers, and the Great Spirit told me, ‘you must send to all the tribes that you can, and tell them to live in peace’; and when any of our people come to see you, I want you to treat them as we treat you.”

This identification of the Sac and Fox as descendants of the Book of Mormon people is consistent with what Joseph Smith wrote in the Wentworth letter, as well as with the "Mission to the Lamanites" as described in D&C 28, 30 and 32.


*The Sauk (or Sac) and Fox tribes, who were living in present-day Michigan and Ohio by the early seventeenth century, established political ties with each other in the eighteenth century after a protracted war with the French nearly decimated the Fox tribe. Continued conflict with the French forced the confederation to move south into present-day IllinoisIowa, and Missouri—the western portions of which belonged to Spain at the time—where they began warring with tribes such as the Kaskaskia and Osage, who were already living in the area. American expansion into these lands after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 led to further conflict, including an Indian raid in which three white settlers were killed. Hoping to avoid full-scale war with the United States, a delegation of Sauk and Fox leaders made an agreement with Indiana territorial governor William Henry Harrison to cede part of their land in exchange for the return of an Indian prisoner. Harrison evidently did not reveal the full extent of the cession, however, which included most of western Illinois (including the land on which Nauvoo was located), southwestern Wisconsin, and parts of eastern Missouri. Indian resentment over the treaty appears to have been a key factor behind the 1832 Black Hawk War, which resulted in the Indians being forced to cede to the United States one and one-quarter of a million acres of land in present-day Iowa. The remainder of their land was sold to the government in 1842. The Indians were permitted to continue living on the western portion of this land until 1845, when they were relocated to lands in present-day Kansas. (Jung, Black Hawk War of 1832, 11–32, 190–209; White, Middle Ground, 469–517; Eby, ‘That Disgraceful Affair,’ 37–63, 263–295.) 

Note 349. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

"the plains of the Nephites" in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois

On the way to Missouri during the Zion's Camp march, Joseph and his companions stopped at the banks of the Mississippi river. Joseph wrote a letter to Emma on June 4, 1834. He told her how they found "proof of the divine authenticity" of the Book of Mormon.

Here's a map from BYU that shows the route they took and their locations on the indicated dates.

(click to enlarge)

Excerpt from Joseph's letter to Emma.

The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest men and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the , recounting [p. 57]
occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed, and in short were it not at every now and then our thoughts linger with inexpressible anxiety for our wives and our children our kindred according to the flesh who are entwined around our hearts; And also our brethren and friends; our whole journey would be as a dream, and this would be the happiest period of all our lives.

Note 14: On 3 June, the Camp of Israel passed through the vicinity of what is now Valley City, Illinois, where several members of the camp climbed a large mound. At the top, they uncovered the skeletal remains of an individual JS reportedly identified as Zelph, a “white Lamanite.” Archeologists have since identified the mound as Naples–Russell Mound #8 and have classified it as a Hopewell burial mound of the Middle Woodland period of the North American pre-Columbian era (roughly 50 BC to AD 250). (Godfrey, “The Zelph Story,” 31, 34; Farnsworth, “Lamanitish Arrows,” 25–48.)  

Faulring, Scott H. “Early Marriages Performed by the Latter-day Saint Elders in Jackson County, Missouri, 1832–1834.” Mormon Historical Studies 2 (Fall 2001): 197–210.Godfrey, Matthew C. “‘Seeking after Monarchal Power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832.” Mormon Historical Studies 13 (Spring/Fall 2012): 15–37.

Farnsworth, Kenneth W. “Lamanitish Arrows and Eagles with Lead Eyes: Tales of the First Recorded Explorations in an Illinois Valley Hopewell Mound.” Illinois Archaeology 22 (2010): 25–48.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Thursday, March 9, 2023

New Madrid earthquakes

The description of destruction in 3 Nephi (which never mentions volcanoes) matches the description of the massive earthquakes in Madrid, Missouri, in 1812-13.

A recent video describing the events is here:

538,792 views • Feb 7, 2022 • #thehistoryguy #history #Missouri

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Mayans in Arkansas

Sometimes people who question the New York Cumorah ask me about Lehi's posterity in Latin America. We have little knowledge of events outside the narrative of the Book of Mormon (I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people -Words of Mormon 1:5), and even less knowledge of events postdating the Book of Mormon. 

But we do know that there have been migrations and intermarriages throughout the Americas. 

From the twitter thread I've mentioned:

This artifact was found in a cave in Arkansas over 50 years ago. UCLA's archaeology labs determined it is a genuine Maya sculpture. It is on display at the Fort Smith Museum of History.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Porthsmouth, Ohio

 From the twitter account I've mentioned before. Well worth following.

This is a painting on the floodwall along the Ohio River in Portsmouth, OH. It shows a portion of the massive Earthworks complex that was constructed around 500 BC. From the many earthworks in the city there were miles-long walkways leading to massive sites in Kentucky, one can be seen in the distance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Cumorah issue is simple

I often have conversations with other lawyers who greatly respect Oliver Cowdery and what he went through as a witness to the early events of the Church, as the Assistant President of the Church, and later as a humble member who sought no position or recognition.

The topic of Book of Mormon geography arises. Usually they say they believe there were two Cumorahs.

I reply that I'm fine with multiple working hypotheses, but they should at least be based on all the information.

Lawyers (and most other people) always agree with that premise.

Then I explain that for me the issue is simple: we either believe what Oliver taught or we don't.

Although they are usually fairly well-versed in Church history and the various geography theories, they rarely know what Oliver had taught about Cumorah. 

This is such a common experience in my discussions that I have to infer that the M2C citation cartel has successfully suppressed, censored, and eliminated Oliver's teachings. 

Most Latter-day Saints believe what Oliver said.

They know he was the only witness, other than Joseph, to the restoration of the Priesthood, the receipt of temple keys, and to most of the translation of the Book of Mormon. He was an Apostle, the Second Elder, and the Assistant President of the Church. 

Nevertheless, certain scholars and their employees and followers have persuaded Church members to disbelieve Oliver when he talked about (i) Cumorah and (ii) the translation of the Book of Mormon.

I posted a chart about this on a page on this blog: 

I realize Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter Foundation, and others have employed sophistry to justify their repudiation of what Oliver taught about Cumorah. They likewise dismiss the teachings of subsequent prophets and apostles on the topic, rationalizing that Church leaders were merely speaking as men, that they were naïve and ignorant, and that they were wrong.

And all of this because the New York Cumorah contradicts their M2C theory, which was invented by RLDS scholars Stebbins and Hills in the early 1900s.


For those who accept what Oliver taught, there is no question about Cumorah. There is no "two-Cumorahs" theory with a false Cumorah in New York and a true Cumorah in Mexico, or Baja, or Panama, or Chile, or Thailand, or Eritrea, or wherever.

Maybe it's the simplicity of the New York Cumorah that makes it a stumbling block for the credentialed class in the Church.


It's always useful to remember what J. Reuben Clark taught:

You do have an interest in matters purely cultural and in matters of purely secular knowledge, but, I repeat again for emphasis, your chief interest, your essential and all but sole duty, is to teach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as that has been revealed in these latter days. You are to teach this gospel, using as your sources and authorities the standard works of the Church and the words of those whom God has called to lead His people in these last days. You are not, whether high or low, to intrude into your work your own peculiar philosophy, no matter what its source or how pleasing or rational it seems to you to be. To do so would be to have as many different churches as we have seminaries—and that is chaos.


It's easy to see how, if every Latter-day Saint accepted what Oliver and the others have taught about the New York Cumorah, we would have greater unity in the Church--and less chaos.

But somehow, unity doesn't seem to be a priority for the M2C scholars who have repudiated these teachings.