Dr. Einar C. Erickson
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Those, Lord, who have come into knowledge but have turned away, what will happen to them? To that place they go to which the angels of poverty will go. They will be received of that place, the place which is without repentance and they will be kept until the day when they shall be tortured. Those who have spoken blasphemy against the spirit they will be punished with eternal punishment.



The four newly called missionaries left Fayette, New York, sometime in late November, in the relative severe winter of 1830. By November 21 they arrived at Buffalo, New York, ( Kelly p. 69) having traveled about 100 miles. "After traveling for some days the Lamanite mission called at some Indian encampments near the city of Buffalo, where they spent part of a day instructing them in the knowledge of their forefathers. These Indians were of the Cattaraugus tribe [Seneca], and kindly received the missionaries, who left with certain of their number who could read English, two copies of the Book of Mormon, and then continued their journey westward. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt pp. 49, 61: HC l:120) Near Buffalo were four Indian encampments, the missionaries met with the Seneca Indians in one of those encampments.


In 1491, "on the eve of European contact, eastern North America was one of the world's most productive breadbaskets." (Mann Map No. 1)  Some 627 Indian tribes and cultures throughout the Americas thrived. The census in 1980 indicated some 125 of the tribes have disappeared, and only 1,500,000 Indians were left, about l.5 % of the original inhabitants. The Navajo and Cherokee, almost of equal numbers, make up one third of all the Indians. The northeast and eastern Atlantic coastal Indians were several decades behind the rest of the Americas in terms of personal contact with the Europeans. After 1518 the Spanish and Portuguese were occupied with Central and South America; but the French were interested in North America. Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), a famous French navigator, educated at Dieppe, a major center for navigators, sailed, when he was nineteen as an apprentice to the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verazano, numerous times to the New World during the 1520's. Later he was navigator for fishing ventures to the cod banks of Newfoundland. In 1534, King Francis l of France sent Cartier with two ships to North America to search for gold and precious metals. They landed on the Gaspe Peninsula, which was claimed for France. There a group of Iroquois told him precious metals and gems were farther north. They were, but he never made it that far north. Cartier established friendly relations with the Indians, taking two sons of the Chief back to France. He also took a supply of corn, the first corn brought to northern Europe. In 1535, the King sent Cartier back again to explore, he returned the two boys and entered the St. Lawrence water way. At a place where he beached on the west bank, the trading post of Tadoussac would be established in 1600 for the beaver, fox, martin and lynx fur trade, worth more than gold. Far to the west Jesuit Priests would establish a trading post that was effective in 1610. Just south of Tadoussac the mission of Sainte Coix would be settled in 1646. Cartier continued as far south as Ville-Marie where an Indian village was located at the base of a mountain he called Mont Real, later it became Montreal, established in 1642. Along the way he traded with some of the Micmac, Montagnais, and French Iroquoians. A future Battle with French traders would take place in 1609 with the Mohawk. Cartier returned north in 1536, turned east over the Gulf of St Lawrence (New Brunswick) went around the north end of the eastern headland (Newfoundland) north of where in 1629 Fort Sainte-Anna would be established. (Mann Map No. l) The area he explored was called New France. (Mann Map No. l) He left behind diseases which afflicted the Indians greatly, a foreboding promise of things to come.  His last trip was made in 1541 when the King organized an expedition to establish permanent settlements in Canada. Cartier sailed in May and explored the St. Lawrence River to what is now Cape Rouge, near Quebec City. Some of his men stayed behind and set up a settlement and trading post.  Though they made entradas inland, they never found gold, but the pelts were as good as gold. He returned to France, now 50 years old, and spent the last seven years of his life around the seaport of St. Malo where he was born. The way was now open for the fulfillment of all that was foreseen in the Book of Mormon.  Most of the Book of Mormon prophecies of the future were calamitous in nature, and the calamities surely came.


Intrepid French traders established a trading post in Cattaraugus territory near Buffalo Creek, (Modern Buffalo N.Y.) between the Seneca and Cayuga members of the Iroquoian Confederacy which was nearly wiped out by measles in 1592. In the Acadia Area south of the Gulf of St. Lawrence French trading posts were established. But before Canseau [Canso] was set up in 1604, the Micmac Indians had already been trading for more than a century with the Spanish, Basque and other cod fisherman  who had crossed the Atlantic before the early 1500's to fish the prolific cod banks of that region got the Catholic market. In the north embayment of Massachusetts Bay facing east, the French settled Ile Sainte-Croix in 1605, and across the bay to the east the English established Port-Royal facing west, in 1605.  For the next three decades the French and British each expanded their footholds in the New World. 

Inland from Massachusetts Bay, several years before Plymouth Colony, a massive outbreak of an unknown plague wiped out Indians just south of where the Colony was established, and during the next decade the British became firmly entrenched in the New World all along the Bay Area. The richest city in Europe and one of the main processing facilities for all of the pelts being shipped back to Europe was Amsterdam. The Dutch, after eighty years of struggle achieved their independence and established their Republic in 1648 and became astonishingly prosperous. (Ashley pp. 18-44) All of Europe was becoming more stable. The Dutch were not settlers, though they did set up New Netherlands in the New World and acquired the Island where New York is now located in 1625 getting the equivalent of $25.  The Dutch had also followed Cartier's voyage down the St. Lawrence River system to Buffalo Creek between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, where, by 1610, they had set up a trading post with the Cattaraugus of the Iroquois tribes  where Buffalo, New York is now located. The Dutch-French trade rivalry escalated warfare among the Indians.  (Mann - Map No.l)


The Cattaraugus Indians were at Buffalo Creek and remained there until 1830 when four missionaries found remnants of what had been an illustrious tribe. The Swedes had grand plans to colonize the entire east coast, but they were looking for gold and silver, in this they failed, but they started to get in on the action in the New World at Chester in 1642 and Fort Christina [Wilmington] in Delaware territory in 1638, and Zwaanendael [Lewes] in 1631, but were eventually preempted by the British. By the 1650's the Dutch alone were shipping 35,000 pelts a year to their processing facilities at Amsterdam. (Mann Map) They were among the few who actually paid for land instead of sizing it by force. It was soon evident to the Indians that it was land the Europeans desired and they intended to get land whatever way they could.  South of the Swedish settlements the British had a firm hold on Maryland and Virginia, the tragedy of the Roanoke Island settlers of 1585-86 is history, as is the Jamestown settlement of 1607, the 400 year celebration is in progress in the U.S.  (Mann, p. 32 and Map No.l, see the recent book Jamestown: The Buried Truth, by William M. Kelso, University of Virginia Press)  Most of the Indians encountered by Europeans on the East Coast were tribes of the extensive Delawares.  The Shawnee were directly west, over on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains, of the Virginia Colonies. While the pelts being shipped back began to amount to hundreds of thousands it was still trivial compared to the pelts that would be produced in the far west 200 years later. Two little acknowledged contribution of great importance was made by the European colonization, one was the Bees brought by the settlers the other was the earth worm.  


The great Indian north-south trade trails of eastern America had been in use before 2200 BC during the Vinette l, phase. (Ford 25).The trails extended from Micmac territory (Now New Brunswick) at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the Montagnais to the southwest, farther southwest to Lake Huron and the Huron tribes; and then far to the south to the Pensacol and Apalachee Indians on the Gulf of Mexico, with access trails going east at critical junctions to the Atlantic coast. Trade was extensive, and the moccasin telegraph was efficient. No one as yet has done a study to link the pre-Archaic and Archaic phases of occupation of the regions to the Jaredites or Olmec peoples of the Gulf Coast, the oldest civilization in Mexico. (Soustelle p. 30) This could be most rewarding. But within two hundred years nearly all of the Indians involved in these and subsequent developments had by mandate of Congress been swept out of the northeast and eastern regions by various Indian Removal Acts to west of the Mississippi--Missouri Rivers before the missionaries arrived in 1830. (Parker p. 29)


The missionaries first met and preached and left Book of Mormons with the Cattaraugus Indians, near Buffalo, New York, one of the Seneca clans, the leading tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy. (Map of Indian Locations, RD p. 1544)  "Sometimes referred to as the League of the Iroquois...the Iroquois call themselves Haudenosaunee (‘people of the longhouse')." (Green p. 86) "By 1600, it comprised five separate nations, the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga and Cayuga. Their original homeland is in New York State and Ohio, but all groups are now found in Canada." (Green p. 86) They had occupied these lands since the first century AD. The evidence is for First Century  expansion into this area of the Formative Cultures prior to the First Century occupancy of the region, by what Mormons would call Jaredites, since there is evidence of habitation before 2200 BC in this region. (Ford pp. 24-27) There were plenty of evidence of a time related presence of the Hopewell, Ohio Hopewell and Illinois late Adena cultures,  (Ford p. 25) that might be related to Nephite expansions. Their origins and the traditions and ceremonial baggage they carried with them and because of the timing, may link certain tribes with the Zion conditions that prevailed after the visit of Christ to the New World and the events recorded in 4 Nephi. This is a subject that needs more study. Later a southern tribe, the "Tuscarora joined the five nations."  (White p. 216)  The 20 foot wide, 30 feet high, 150 to 400 foot long houses characterized these Indians. (Billard p. 117)  The Book of Mormon suggests how most of the Americas were populated and relates the different groups that could have been responsible for peopling the various regions.  Most of these aspects of history are not yet the subject of serious study by Book of Mormon archaeologists. But some are giving it some thought.


The Confederacy leaders possessed a notched staff several feet long with a sword hilt-like handle. It was used by an Iroquois sachem [chief] to list the members of the Great Council. The staff is divided into five sections-one per tribe-and pegs in each represent the various council members, (Maxwell p. 128)  eight to fourteen in each tribe. Thus they could keep track of all council members, their votes and presence at each council meeting held. "Although there were 50 council seats, there were only 49 councilors." (Maxwell p. 128)  The Great Hiawatha was one of these. The action and interaction of this council is strangely like the government of the United States in operation.  Some historians think the Founding Fathers got some of their constitutional ideas from this Confederacy. But the ancient origins of the Confederacy tribes may explain it differently.


The Mohawks (‘people of the flint') were among first of these Indians to meet the Dutch and the British, who gave them that name. They allayed themselves to the Dutch permitting them to control the main trade routes for a critical time period. (Green p. 106) The Mohawks had nine chiefs. It was they who "led the move to create the confederacy." (Green p. 106)  But when some of the tribes aligned themselves with the British during the American Revolution it nearly tore the confederacy apart and when the British lost, the Mohawks were forced out of the Mohawk valley. Some remained in New York and became famous as high steel construction workers. In 1993 a small group relocated from Tyendinaga and Akwesasne, Oka. where they had been driven by the Relocation Acts of 1828 and 1830.  (Green p. 106)  Today there are six small reservations in New York for remnants of the confederacy. (Parker 29) A lot of the Mohawks live in New York City.

 "Joseph Brant, (Thayendanega), (c.1742-1807), was a powerful nonhereditary chief of the Iroquois Confederacy. He favored alliances with Europeans instead of war. His grandfather was among the four Indian ‘Kings' who visited Queen Anne's Court in London in 1710. Joseph and his sister, Mary (Molly) Brant, [a clan mother], were among the most influential Iroquois of the 18th Century. They were comfortable in both Mohawk and English societies. Yet to some Iroquois, they were traitors because of their affiliation with the British." (Green p. 29)  Mary was the common-law wife of Sir William Johnson the Commander of British Colonial Indian Affairs in New York and Canada. Joseph was therefore able to "negotiate a favorable arrangement for his people at the Albany Congress of 1754." (Green p. 29)  But the results were not long lasting.

"Red Jacket (Sagoyewatha) (756-1830), a Seneca, was a man of such intellectual and political skills that he was ‘raised up' as a non-hereditary chief...he was forced to join the majority of his people in a British alliance against the American rebels, he warned the Iroquois people against all European alliances...he...strongly rejected white efforts to wipe out Seneca culture and power. He was given a peace medal by George Washington, who betrayed him and his people, not fulfilling the pledges Washington had made to protect his Seneca allies. (Green pp. 130-131) But in the war of the British with the Americans Red Jacket's British alliances proved treacherous and dangerous for his defeated people. "After the American War of Independence [Brant] was forced to lead an exodus of Mohawks, Senecas and Cayugas into Canada in 1784.  The descendants of those people now live on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada." (Green p. 29) "In 1797 the Treaty of Big Tree established Seneca reservations in the state of New York. By then the treaty of Fort Stanwix forced the Seneca to give up much of their land. By 1838 the four reservations of Buffalo Creek [on which the city of Buffalo is built], Tonawanda, Cattaraugus and Allegheny remained." (Green p. 146; Parker p. 29) In late 1830 it was a small encampment of Cattaraugus that the missionaries visited for most of one day.

The Cayuga, (meaning ‘the place where locusts were taken out') comprised of four clans, is one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; they originally lived on the shores of the Cayuga Lake in Western New York State. "After the American Revolution, large parts of the tribe were removed to Canada others were scattered to Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Cayugas also joined with Senecas on the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations. They began official land claims for their original homelands in the late 1970's and [were] still negotiating them in the late 1990's. Today, gaming provides huge revenue to a number of Cayuga communities." (Green p. 37)  The Kinzua Dam covered the traditional land of the Seneca in the states of Pennsylvania and New York. Even "the grave of Cornplanter (the great Seneca Leader and brother of the [Seneca] prophet Handsome Lake] was moved." (Green p. 51) Because of the Dams they lost nearly 80 % of the land that still belonged to them after 100 years.    


Members of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy can be identified by the "number of feathers and the way in which they were worn [at ceremonies] on an Iroquois man's headdress (gutoweh)." (Green p. 61)  It would indicate which group he belonged to. The Seneca, Handsome Lake, was the brother of the traditional leader, Corn planter and a hereditary chief of the Iroquois Confederacy. In 1799 he founded the modern Longhouse Religion. His rise as a prophet began with a series of visions. The Indians expected messengers from Heaven. Messengers from the Creator instructed him to tell the people to restore and keep their traditional ceremonies, to give up alcohol, sexual promiscuity, wife-beating, quarrelling and gambling. Instead the people were to start social reform among the families and to oppose further European intrusion on their land and culture. His gospel, drawn from ancient Iroquois religious ideas and practices, was reinforced in part by similar Christian beliefs....and by the Iroquois' traditional faith in prophecy. " (Green p. 77) They had among their histories the knowledge that Three Holy People had appeared to them [the Three Nephites?] and a white god [Jesus?] had appeared to them and to their cousins the Hurons as Manabozhe, and as Terenyawagon to the Iroquois. They were aware of the role that a ‘great one' played as an opponent of the Creator, he was a powerful adversary [Lucifer?]. (Cryer p. 368; D&C 76:25-28)  Handsome Lake died in 1815. "By the 1850's his gospel had spread widely and the new rituals had become part of Iroquois religious custom. The moral code spread quickly and restored a ceremonial cycle whose survival today continues to make the Iroquois a distinct political and ethnic group." And underlying all of this outward expressed religion there was a deep current of ceremonial understandings that few white men every penetrated. (Green p. 77)  The Cattaraugus of 1830 would have carried these cultural traits and traditions and belief in a creator that peopled the world, bestowing bounty, and an afterlife similar to life on earth. (Billard p. 121) They would have responded favorably initially to the familiar doctrines of messengers from the Creator, visions and prophecy, and the morality of the Mormons; much more so than any Christian group would have. They started their Ceremonies with the words "When the world was new." (Woodhead p. 18)  "They knew that several creatures worked in concert to create the earth." (Woodhead p. 26) Special ceremonies provided New Names for members and participants. They were most receptive. But the missionaries were seriously, doctrinally handicapped. Many of the Indian Ceremonies paralleled the temple endowment and doctrines of pre-existence. One of their main ceremonies is the Sweat Lodge. Most Indian groups had some variation of this practice. One familiar with the teachings of D&C 76, 84, and 88, would find familiar contacts with the arrangement of ground patterns, representation of the earth, the critical path, the two witnesses positioned at the entrance, the three tiered architecture of the lodge, the classes of beings, the requirements of purity and performances. Few Indians have ever participated in the construction of a lodge, and even fewer have participated in the ceremony that precedes the construction of such a sacred structure. It is obvious that the Indians listened closely and did not perceive any evidence of these ideas or knowledge of these sacred doctrines in what was being communicated to them. The pipe ceremonies, of which there are three. One is extensive. The contents of the row of pouches laid out in front by the pipe, link the ceremony to Central America. The ceremonies of the Navajo, Hopi, and other southwestern groups including The Squaw Dance, The Sun Dance, The Blessing Ways and the Snake Dance ceremony which lasts for 20 days; the snake dance is on the 16th day of the ceremony, all show incredible linkages to former glorious principles and practices. Hopi histories have been neglected, especially those carried by certain clans, such as the Rattlesnake Clan, the Reed Clan, the Badger Clan and the Antelope Clan. (Curtis pp. 44-51) I have detailed my experience at a Hopi Snake Dance ceremony as an appendix to a recent book, In Search of Kokopelli: Moroni's Legacy 2007, [the Humpbacked Flute Player] by my brother Lynn H. Erickson. (see also Grant pp. 213-214) Linkages between the Mayan and Pueblo snake culture and ceremonies, including "Macibol, [Michael?] who dances while struggling with the Great Serpent"  have been detailed. (Tyler, et al. p. 221)  And who really understands the Kiva and what goes on in there? (King pp. 2-4)  Having had experience in all of these and lectured and written about them, it is clear that the missionaries were at a disadvantage because Joseph Smith did not get the revelation of Section 76 until 1832, nor did he reveal the endowment ceremony to the Church until 1842, (Ehat pp. 24-30) even though aspects of it were presented in the Alphabet and Egyptian Grammar Joseph prepared in 1835-37. (See Erickson 12 Jul 2006)  Had they had the endowment doctrines and the pre-existence doctrines, they may have more seriously impressed the Indians. Never-the-less, it is evident that the Mormon missionaries were guided to particular Indian Groups that held kindred concepts summarized in the Book of Mormon, and later revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith. They could expect favorable responses from Indians who could read the Book of Mormon. The Indians they met with seemed to accept that that book did in fact preserve an ancient history of their people along with many retained cultural traits and beliefs, but the full restoration of the gospel was still ahead, and the Indians were reticent because what was presented to them was incomplete!      

During the time the missionaries spent among the Cattaraugus, they learned that the Indians were being forced to move to the west to ‘Indian Country'. "The elders were not able to preach much; however, the missionaries were able to place two copies of the Book of Mormon." (Kelly p. 69)  Apparently these copies went to Indians who could read English. What happened to these two Books of Mormon would be most interesting to know.


"The notion of an ‘Indian Country' to which tribes would be removed arose with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The idea was to have new lands to exchange for Indian Eastern lands, and the country immediately west of Missouri and Arkansas came to be that ‘Indian Territory' in about 1830." (Green p. 82) The transplanting of Indians to the west had been going on for decades, and the job was just about complete for most of the eastern Indian by 1830 when the missionaries embarked on their trip to the Indians. "Treaties with the tribes removed from the Southeast stipulated that their new lands would never be included in any state or territory, and ‘the Indian Territory' would never endure white settlement." (Green p. 82) In 1808 five years after the removal of the Indians began, Thomas Jefferson said to the Indians "The day will soon come when you will unite yourselves with us, join in our great councils, and form a people with us, and we shall all be Americans; you will mix with us by marriage; your blood will run in our veins and will spread with us over this great continent." (Green p. 83)  It never happened. And the Indian Territory they were sent to for the most part was Oklahoma and only persisted until 1869. Green provides a map of where most of the Indians ended up. (Green page 83)  A similar map is provided by Parker. (Parker p. 29)


From the first moment of contact with the white world and the assault by the Europeans, the old way of life of the Indian was doomed, and the loss was horrific. (Green p. 164) "Between 1778, when the Delaware signed a treaty with the United States that dangled before them the prospect of statehood, until 1868, when the United States sealed a pact with the Nez Perce, the Indians ratified no fewer than 370 separate agreements with the United States, all of them dishonored and discarded." (White p. 212)  The Indian did not become a United States citizen until 1924, and was not finally enfranchised until 1948. (White p. 212)  It would not be until the 1964 conference on Indian poverty held in Washington, D.C. that finally the Indians were able to design and run many programs themselves. (Maxwell p. 394) This was the Indian's Trail of Broken Treaties.  From the time that President Jackson enacted the Indian Removal Act, which decreed the instant removal of the Indian to the Trans-Mississippi West, with only a slight remission during the Civil War, to 1890, the worst elements in politics and in the army brought the destruction of the Indian to a rapid and remorseless conclusion." (White p. 213)  All as had been prophesied by the Book of Mormon.


Seneca means ‘people of the big hill'. During most of the 18th century the Seneca were a powerful and wealthy nation. They were the western most of the Iroquois Confederacy, their traditional lands included a large part of Western New York, and they ranged from Ohio to Canada having acquired much of their territory through alliances and fierce war like behavior in the 17th century. They were the major partners in the fur trade with the new European settlers, and the most numerous of the Confederacy, the central figures in the political struggle between the Indians and the Europeans. But diseases wiped out entire villages. They destroyed their own kinsmen, the Huron, fought the French, and signed a treaty with the French and Indian allies in 1710. (Green p 146) They had an unbridled lust for war, during the 17h century they went on a rampage in which they turned on their own kinsmen, leaving not a single Indian on the banks of Lake Huron. They attached the French, the Delaware, Shawnee, Nanticoke, and by 1700 they had grown powerful enough to dream of taking on the whites by heading up a confederacy of Indians.  But the Seneca reluctantly sided with the British in the American Revolution and so fell in defeat with their allies. It was the French that originated taking scalps. When they fought for the British they committed such devilish atrocities that the British were appalled. George Washington, at a critical time, sent an army under General John Sullivan [the Indians called him Corn-cutter] into the confederacy heartland, burning down 40 villages, demolished 160,000 bushels of corn, and leveled all orchards and fields, and putting an end once and for all to the supremacy of the Iroquois Confederacy. (White p. 118)  The Iroquois power never recovered. (Billard p. 134)

A treaty was signed with the Seneca in 1794 "in which the United States promised that it would never take or claim Seneca land. The U.S. broke this treaty in 1964 when they built the Kinzua Dam, taking away 10,000 acres of land, leaving only 2,300 acres, requiring more than 36 % of the Seneca to relocate. (Parker p. 59)  The 1797 Treaty of Big Tree established reservations in the state of New York; the Treaty of Fort Stanwix forced the Seneca to give up much of their original land. By 1838, only the four reservations of Buffalo Creek, (after which Buffalo New York is named), Tonawanda, Cattaraugus and Allegheny remained. (Green p. 146) The Indians were actively being displaced at the time of the missionary visit. From the 1830's many Seneca and members of the Confederacy were removed from Ohio and New York to Kansas and Oklahoma under the "Indian Removal Act of 1830," (Parker p. 36) forcing migration beyond the Mississippi for northern and southern tribes. (Parker pp. 28-29)

 "Actual removal west of the Mississippi River did not commence until after the inauguration of James Monroe in 1817." (Parker pp. 36)  As noted above, only three of these reservations remain today. The Tonawanda Seneca later bought back most of their reservation. (Green pp. 146; 169)  "The government had removed most of the northern groups by 1845." (Parker p. 36)  Many of these displaced Indians were encountered by the Pioneers crossing the plains during the twenty-five years that followed.  

In part Congress justified the removal because "The Iroquois [Seneca] and Comanche outlook on warfare was abnormal, and untypical of the attitude of the Indian." (White p. 119)  Historically, the Iroquois strength helped the British against the French in the wars that won Canada for the English crown. (Billard p. 134)  


The original lands of the Huron, or Wyandot, Indians was north of Lake Ontario, on the northern shores of the small lake Petun and the eastern shores of Lake Huron. (Cassidy, Map p. 154) See Map No. 1. But the Huron ended up in Ohio, the French form of the Seneca name for the Allegheny-Ohio; meaning ‘beautiful river.' (Billard p. 152) Traders had given the Huron their insulting name, derived from the French ‘hure' for lout or ruffian. But the Indians called themselves Wendat (Wyandot) ‘dweller on a Peninsula.' (Maxwell p. 138) Not all Iroquoian nations joined the five nations Iroquois Confederacy. Incessant warfare and simmering hatreds continued to divide league members from their cousins the Hurons. (Cassidy p. 125)  They had been nearly wiped out by the Seneca depredations during the early 17th century, (White p. 118) and driven from their homeland along the eastern shores of Lake Huron south to the southern end of Lake Erie until only a few of their people remained. There they were in the process of being removed to the west from an area near Fort Sandusky, located on the southern end of Lake Erie in Ohio. This is where a remnant of the Wyandot was met by the Mormon Missionaries. (Dyer p. 35)  Here a line of 20 tribes of Indians formed a great arc stretching south to the Ohio Valley and west to the Mississippi. Most of these were Ojibwa. (Cassidy p. 155)  From the first appearance of the Europeans the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley were caught up in a relentless cycle of violence, dispersal, and relocation. (Cassidy p. 155)

Few tribes remained where they were prior to 1600. First there had been the proclamation line declared in 1763, which shoved the Indians westward along the Appalachian Mountains, then the subsequent Removal Acts that never terminated until the 20th century.  Few tribes today are anywhere near their ancestral lands. In 1845 "The last of the pure-blood Huron," as he described himself, Montreal artist Zacharie Vicente made a1845 self portrait.  By that time the mighty Huron nation had long since been scattered and virtually exterminated by warfare and disease. Smallpox, bubonic plague, measles, and influenza ...were deadly visitors [to all tribes]. Between 1616 and 1619 ...and an unidentified epidemic ravaged the coast of New England." (Cassidy p. 127)  It was said that the Hurons were given to endlessly analyzing their dreams. (Maxwell p. 138)  


Cartier's successful voyages and trade resulted in French hat manufacturers discovering that the fur of beaver made handsome, almost indestructible felt. The price of Beaver pelts shot up. Indian groups vied for exclusive rights. Early on the Hurons established a confederacy of their own that monopolized the fur trade. The Explorer Samuel de Champlain, followed Cartier's earlier routes, with a party of Indian allies he made friends with the Huron and others, forging trade pacts, and in the spring of 1609 in their company he discovered the lake that bears his name. The company came upon a group of Mohawks. The French musket fire sent the Mohawks fleeing. This brief skirmish helped draw lines of combat for the next two centuries. In 1615 the Huron's played host to Champlain. "He was to secure his nation's control over the Great Lakes country and, with it, a monopoly on the valuable trade in beaver pelts." (Maxwell p. 139) But Champlain made a big mistake, "he unknowingly made bitter enemies for France of the powerful Five Nations of Iroquois." (Maxwell p. 149) In future battles the Huron and northern Algonquin tribes sided with the French. Most other tribes sided with the British. The Iroquois were being encircled, they turned to the Dutch and then to the English and went on the offensive. The intertribal carnage that followed was known as the Beaver Wars. The Mohawks clashed with the Mohican in a four year dispute that by 1628 destroyed the latter's trade monopoly with the Dutch at Albany. The real target, however, was the Huron which dominated the fur trade. In 1649 a 1000 warrior Iroquois army, mostly Seneca, hit a pair of Christianized Huron towns on Lake Huron; fired the longhouses, baptized the Jesuit priests in boiling water, then they surged inland through Huron country, burning, slaying, rounding up captives, pushing west and south into the Ohio Valley, the Huron were destroyed as a nation, some fled west, others turned south. (Cassidy pp. 128-129) In 1665 some Huron had joined with the Ottawa at a spot called Michilimackinac. A force of allied tribes demolished a large Iroquois war party near Sault Ste. Marie and thus permanently freeing the northern Lakes from the Iroquois scourge. The Huron word for village, Kanata, gave Canada its name. (Mann, Map) Some Huron had fled south into the Ohio Valley at the southern end of Lake Erie near Fort Sandusky. To some of this remnant the First Mormon Missionaries brought the Book of Mormon and the Gospel in the winter of 1830-31. 


The balance continued to shift. Iroquois raiders thrust into Illinois in 1684 but were met by combined native forces from Fort St. Lois that turned them back. The French Fort St. Joseph on Lake Huron became a focal point for multitribal counterattacks against the Iroquois. The Ojibwa reconquered their former ground across the river by the Ontario peninsula, the Miami, Wabash, and Potawatomi reoccupied ancestral sites in southern Michigan. But the Iroquois still dominated vast areas-from Canada's Ottawa River in the north to the Cumberland River in Kentucky and east from Lake Erie. Now the British became part of the action setting up trading posts as far north as Canada's St. James Bay, the confrontation between the British and the French began in earnest. But the French proposed a peace in Montreal in 1701. The Iroquois debated for two years before accepting the accord. Thirty nine separate tribes, and more than 1300 representatives showed up. The accord which ended decades of intertribal war was signed August 4, 1701. Then the fur trade suffered a decline in prices. The French vacated their far western trading posts, but set up in 17l5 Fort Michilimackinac and Fort Ponchartrain at Detroit, and supplied arms and supplies to Indians, antagonizing many tribes, mainly the Sioux and the Fox. Accords were signed in 1724 and 1727; finally in 1742 the Fox ended the cycle of violence and betrayal. The Huron returned to the Ohio Valley along with Delaware refugees about the time the first English traders began to arrive. (Cassidy pp. 167-170)  With the arrival of the Europeans in force the predicted scattering of all of the Indians progressed painfully to its sordid end, (3 Nephi 20:13, 15) as President Romney pointed out referring to this day: "Knowing the Indians would have been scattered and decimated by the settlers of America." (The Role of the Indian, M. G. Romney p. 6, BYU, Speeches of the Year1972) 


The English made their base at Logstown, a multi-tribal village on the Ohio River three miles south of where Pittsburgh stands today. They had quality goods, including guns, and offered the best exchange rate. Trouble really began when the British established a trading post at Pickawillany in western Ohio. The French saw this as an expansion of the American empire into French territory. In 1752 a French-Indian force swept down and obliterated the post and made ‘broth' of the Indian defensive leader. "Thus the curtain [came down] on the so-called French and Indian War, the last colonial conflict in America known as the ‘Seven Years War'  lasting until 1763 with the Ohio Valley the strategic crucible." Cassidy p. 170)  Great battles and massacres were frequent. Finally the British took Fort Duquesne, renamed it Fort Pitt, the French military soon collapsed, and in 1760 the French surrendered all of Canada." Cassidy pp. 170-1781)

The Indians loved children. A child was born into the father's clan. The Huron like other Iroquoian peoples traced their descent through the mother's line.  Clan affiliation remained a primary source of personal identity. Everyone had his or her own given name, and sometimes several others acquired over a lifetime in ceremonies. (Cassidy p. 157) This was the same for the Hopi and Navajo. No one could marry a person related to their mother's clan.  Status was measured by how much a man gave away rather that what he accumulated. For them, there was a spirit essence in rocks, trees—everywhere. (Cassidy p. 157)  But the animosity of the Indian against other Indians was foretold. "And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them."  (Mosiah 10:12-17) This was enlarged upon by Felt in his study on The Book of Mormon, The Lamanite and His Prophetic Destiny, BYU, 1969. But the final promise is still there: "For a small moment have I forsake thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee, In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a small moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee..."(3 Nephi 22:2-3,7-8, 13) as discussed by Dean L. Larsen in his paper American Indian Today,  BYU, 1965. But to most of the Indian nations, it seems that it was more than ‘just a little wrath.' In his BYU talk in 1953, President S.W. Kimball prayed "May God bless the Lamanite and hasten the day of their total emancipation and fluorescence."  It has taken more than 50 years to see some real progress.

The Wyandots ended up in a tiny reservation in northeastern Oklahoma along with a fraction of six other northeastern tribes. (Green p. 83)  See Map No. 2. 


The homeland of the Shawnee was in the southern loop of the northeastern Indian tribes, between the Ohio River and the Appalachian Mountains. (Maxwell p. 113) The aggressive Creek Indians in Georgia and Alabama comprised a multilingual grouping of townsmen-speakers of Muskogee, Hitchiti, Yuchi, Shawnee, and others, often classified as Algonquin. English traders encountered a group living along a Georgia creek and called them ‘Creek Indians'-a name that came to be applied to all the townsmen. (Billard p. 138)  Alabama got its name from the Muskogee tribe, and its moto ‘here we rest' is an interpretation of the Muskogee name. (Billard p. 143) 

"The Indians had to be pushed north and south of the lines of travel. [the trails of the white man] Some tribes-among them the Delaware, Shawnee ...were removed repeatedly. Each time they drew less acreage and usually poorer lands...with no time for the tribes to adjust to a new environment." (Billard p. 329)  The Shawnee ended up in a tiny reservation in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. (Parker p. 29)  The missionaries did not leave any copies of the Book of Mormon with the Shawnee, and only taught them for a brief time, less than a day.

"The sky serpent: The snake's coil makes the sign for sun. [Common also to Hopi]  The serpent also serves as a symbol of the stars and the clouds. Among the Dakotas, Shawnees and Sauks, the words for spirit and snake are similar." (Cryer p. 11)  The God of Light was known by many Indians as Manabozho, the defender.  He or one of his three brothers was also "Known as Chokanipok, the Man of Flint or Firestone, the Fire Supplier; Oshownee, or Shawano, the ruling god of the south, after whom the Shawnee are named." (Cryer p. 393)  Thus, looked at more closely, there were spiritual and cultural ties of the Shawnee with the Central American Maya.  The Shawnee DNA falls in with the Mayan, (Erickson WEB site 10 May 2006) as does the Seneca and Huron and Delaware, and most of the surrounding Ojibwa.


"Colonization was never strongly promoted by the French [or Dutch] a string of settlements and posts could maintain the lucrative fur trade, and the wilderness be kept for its riches. The same economic goals prompted the French to seek tribal alliances rather than conquest." (Billard p. 319)  In the long run they lost everything to the British.

Peace and friendship were oft proclaimed-and sometimes achieved. William Penn kept his Quaker faith with the Delawares, in 1683 he signed what Voltaire called the only Indian treaty ‘never sworn to and never broken." But in the infamous Walking Purchase of 1727, which ceded land between rivers to the distance a man could walk in a day and a half, Penn's heirs hired a speedster who strode some 66 miles. (Billard p. 312) The Delaware Indians knew they had been taken, but never learned their lesson. They would sign more than 500 treaties ceding land each time. All of the treaties were broken.


Legends of the Delaware tell of a "Painted Record" drawn on leaves of wood, called the Walum Olum. There is a strange reference to crossing the sea and frozen seas, and chiefs and spirits, such as Grandfather of Boats. The Walum Olum showed up as early as 1820, but has been lost and never recovered. It also told of whites coming from the east in boats. (Maxwell p. 118) As Early as the1760's, a Delaware prophet (Pontiac) appeared in Michigan who saw in a vision that the Indian could liberate himself by uniting with his brothers, forsaking alcohol, eschewing firearms, and concentrating Indian ceremonials on the Great Spirit alone. (Gill p. 68) This inspired the Ottawa's' prophet Pontiac to rise against the English Fort, but within five years the Delaware prophets message was diminished and Pontiac had become increasingly desperate and discredited.  But in 1805 another visionary, a Shawnee called Tenskwatawa, inspired his brother the great Tecumseh, to undertake the most determined effort to weld the American Indians into a single nation against the progress of the White man. (White p. 175)  Tecumseh was a Shawnee chief, or sachem. He negotiated with the Canadian and Americans, gathered Indians tribes around him including members of the Delaware, Wyandot [Huron] and southern tribes. But he was tricked by the Americans and was defeated at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. He died in the War of 1812, fighting as an English brigadier-general at the battle of the Thames, in Ontario. He was 45. (White pp. 218-219)

Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk and Fox [Indians who were present at Nauvoo when Joseph established that great city] tried to keep Tecumseh's confederacy alive, but at the Battle of Wisconsin Heights in 1832, he was trounced, captured and delivered into the hands of the Americans.  Many of the tribes had seen the coming tragedy under the Indian Removal acts of 1828 and 1830, including the Delaware, and had already retreated west of the Mississippi. (White p. 221)The Shawnee ended up with a little patch of land in the center of what is now Oklahoma, and a fraction in its northeast corner. ( Map 2)  

"To the credit of the Canadians, they made Indian treaties thriftily and never broke them; neither did Canada drive the tribes at one another's throats nor fight them." (White p. 242)


"The five Latter Day Saint missionaries arrived in Independence in the spring of 1831,
Then continued their journey westward to the state line. This impassable barrier, with strictly enforced legal enactments, guarded the sacred soil of the Indians." (Wilcox 1972, p. 21) "The missionaries stopped with Colonel Robert Patterson at what was later known as the Vogal Place, near Westport. Patterson was one of four families who had settled west of the Big Blue in 1825," (Wilcox 1972, p. 21) then they continued "north of the Kaw River [named after the Kaw Indians, and from whence the name Kansas came from] into the Indian reservation of the Delawares. This reservation extended about eight miles from the mouth of the Kaw River in what is at present Wyandotte County, Kansas."  (Wilcox 1972, p. 21) They had come to Osage Indian country. (Wilcox 1975 p. 25)  The missionaries had arrived!  PART lll will discuss their trip and what they found and what happened when they encountered the Indians.   


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Schiffman, Lawrence H., & James C. VanderKam Eds. Martinez, F.G. , Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Vol. 2, Oxford University Press,  New York,  2000

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Tyler, Hamilton A., Pueblo Gods and Myths, Un. Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1964

Wilcox, Pearl, The Latter Day Saints on the Missouri Frontier,  Pearl Wilcox, Independence, Missouri, 1972

..................Jackson County Pioneers, Pearl Wilcox, Independence, Missouri, 1975

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All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
To find out more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please see their offical websites at LDS.org and Mormon.org