Stories about the Art
Our contributing artists have combined in creating brand new art all about the Heartland. This new art has been created to help bring others to Christ. We believe that North America is the Promised Land and we have the responsibility to share the gospel with others. Ken Corbett has created three pieces about Zelph, and the Plains of the Nephites. Kendra Burton has done some amazing work with the Savior appearing to and serving the Nephites of North America. Brooke Malia Mann has created a wonderful map sharing information about locations of events and cities that are possible as sites in the Book of Mormon. Each of these paintings is available to purchase as a beautiful Giclee or as prints. Just call Rian at 801-931-9031 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zelph in Vision by Ken Corbett
The primary source for the information about Zelph comes from diaries kept by members of the 1834 Zion’s Camp including, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Levi Hancock, Moses Martin, and Reuben McBride.
This Hopewell culture mound site is located in Pike County, Illinois three miles east of the city of Griggsville. The mound today is known as Naples-Russell Mound #8, or Zelph Mound.
A scientific excavation of this mound was carried out in 1990 by The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in cooperation with the Center for American Archaeology at Kampsville, Illinois. The dig was funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and supervised by archaeologist, Ken Farnsworth. The artifacts found during the excavation confirmed the mound to be a Hopewell burial mound, dating from 100 B.C. to 500 A.D. The artifacts are now located in the Illinois State Museum.
From the volume titled History of the Church Volume 2: pp.79-80, we read; “During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country—Nephites, Lamanites, etc., and this morning I went up on a high mound, near the river, accompanied by the brethren. From this mound we could overlook the tops of the trees and view the prairie on each side of the river as far as our vision could extend, and the scenery was truly delightful.
On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order; and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, in part—one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.”
In LDS Church History we hear about a similar ancient altar found near Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Missouri. In Orson F. Whiney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, page 209, we read; “The Prophet Joseph called upon Brother Brigham, myself and others, saying, “Brethren, come, go along with me, and I will show you something,” He led us a short distance to a place where were the ruins of three altars built of stone, one above the other, and one standing a little back of the other, like unto the pulpits in the Kirtland Temple, representing the order of three grades of Priesthood; “There,” said Joseph, “is the place where Adam offered up sacrifice after he was cast out of the garden.” The altar stood at the highest point of the bluff. I went and examined the place several times while I remained there.”
In another account of the History of Church 3:35 it says, “we arrived at Colonel Lyman Wight’s home. He lives at the foot of Tower Hill (a name I gave the place in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there), where we camped for the Sabbath.”
Today’s Adam-Ondi-Ahman is just a little over 200 miles from the location of Zelph Mound in Illinois, both of which fit within the geography of the Heartland Model of The Land of Zarahemla.
Remarkably, items discovered in the Zelph Mound area fit precisely within the parameters of the Book of Mormon historical chronology. (100 B.C. to 500 A.D.) This general collection of evidence points to a strong possible North American Book of Mormon geographic location.
According to Wilford Woodruff, “I brought the thigh bone to Missouri. I desired to bury it in the Temple Block in Jackson County; but not having this privilege, I buried it in Clay County, Missouri, near the house owned by Col. Arthur and occupied by Lyman Wight. The arrowhead referred to is now in the possession of President Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah.” Wilford Woodruff Journal Page 41.
“While on our way we felt anxious to know who the person was who had been killed by that arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much, to think that God was so mindful of us as to show these things to His servant. Brother Joseph had enquired of the Lord and it was made known to him in a vision.” Life of Heber C. Kimball, by Orson F. Whitney
Zelph a Man of God by Ken Corbett
Zelph was a warrior, a chieftain, an officer, a man of God, a thick set man, and a white Lamanite who had the curse removed from him. He fought for the Nephites in one of the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites, and served under the Prophet Onandagus, who was known from Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains. (See History of the Church 2:79-80)
We will consider a possible scenario of where Zelph may fit into the history of the Book of Mormon, by using information from journals, scriptures and other quotes. (This is only speculation with our belief of Heartland Geography)
- Zelph fought for the Nephites and died in one of the last battles with the Lamanites. This battle would have had to be in the Land of Zarahemla, near present day Valley City, Illinois as this is where Zelph was buried.
- The beginning battle of the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites began in Zarahemla near the Sidon River in 322 AD (Mormon 1:10). The last battle in the Land of Zarahemla was probably in 328 AD near the borders of the west sea. (Possibly Lake Michigan or Lake Erie. Mormon 2:6)
- According to Joseph Fielding Smith, “In the Book of Mormon story the Lamanites were constantly crowding the Nephites back towards the north and east. If the battles in which Zelph took part were fought in the country traversed by the Zion’s Camp, then we have every reason to believe from what is written in the Book of Mormon, that the Nephites were forced farther and farther to the north and east until they found themselves in the land of Ripliancum, which both Ether and Mormon declare to us was the land of Ramah or Cumorah, a land of “many waters,” which “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.” This being true, what would be more natural then that Moroni, like his father Mormon, would deposit the plates in the land where the battles came to an end and the Nephites were destroyed? This Moroni says he did, and from all the evidence in the Book of Mormon, augmented by the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these final battles took place in the territory known as the United States and in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes and hills of Western New York. And here Moroni found the resting place for the sacred instruments which had been committed to his care.”
- In 327 AD, Mormon was now 16 years old and chosen to be the Nephite leader. (Mormon 2:1) In Mormon’s first battle, his army was afraid and headed toward the north countries to the city of Angola, which was probably still in the land of Zarahemla. Zelph may have been a contemporary of Mormon while together in the Land of Zarahemla.
The possible conclusion of where Zelph may fit into the historicity of the Book of Mormon is either, Zelph may have died in 322 AD before Mormon became the Nephite leader or, Zelph may have died in 327 AD in Mormon’s first battle against the Lamanites in the City of Angola before the Nephites went even farther north and east toward Cumorah.
In this painting, Zelph is shown sometime between 322-327 AD, on the same mound above the Illinois River where the Prophet Joseph Smith received a vision of this great warrior in 1834. Prophet Onandagus is seen praying for the freedom of his people. Nearby is, “the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order”, as Joseph’s vision had indicated. In the distance you see some Lamanites in a canoe on the Illinois river.
Joseph Smith’s account of the history of Zelph was recorded by Wilford Woodruff in the Documentary History of the Church. The following is President Woodruff’s testimony regarding the truthfulness of that history, particularly the events that transpired during Zion’s Camp: “I am now called to preside over the only Temple there is on the earth, built for the salvation of the living and the dead. There are but a few of us living who were in Zion’s Camp. I will here say that God has inspired me to keep a journal and write the history of this Church, and I warn the future historians to give credence to my history; for my testimony is true, and the truth of its record will be manifest in the world to come. All the words of the Lord will be fulfilled upon the nations, which are written in this book. Wilford Woodruff, His Life and Labors, Matthias F. Cowley
Notice how careful Woodruff was to preserve every detail about Zion’s Camp. As late as 1879 (while hiding from federal authorities and speaking at Kanab, Utah Territory) he was still relating the story: “Joseph had a vision which showed him this man’s name was Zelph who lived in the days of Onandagus (he was a Lamanite and was white), he was a great Warrior.” The Journal of L. John Nuttall, entry for March 9, 1879; Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source © 2014 Rick Grunder
The name of Onandagus mentioned by Joseph, sounds very similar to Onondaga, one of the five Indian nations that comprised the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. Haudenosaunee means “the people of the long house”. This confederacy assisted the United States in forming a similar government as the Iroquois. The tribe of Onandaga are native peoples of New York and are known to have built houses of timber. (Alma 19:17-18; 26:28-29). The Onandaga are also the leading tribe, or “fire keepers” of this current confederacy. Another people of the Haudenosaunee are the Oneida, which is strikingly similar to the Book of Mormon place name “Onidah”. (Alma 32:4; 47:5) It is also likely no coincidence that the Lamanite title of deity, “Great Spirit” is a native North American appellation. (Alma 18:4-5)
Author L. Taylor Hansen wrote intriguingly of a site in New York State: “On the authority of some older inhabitants of Onondaga, it is stated that on a ledge of rocks, about a mile south of Jamesville, (Near Syracuse and Oneida Castle) is a place which used to be pointed out by the Indians as a spot where the Great Spirit once came down and sat and gave good advice to the chiefs of Onondagas. That there are the prints of his hands and his feet, left in the rocks, still to be seen. In the former years the Onondagas used annually to offer, at this place, tobacco and pipes, and to burn tobacco and herbs as a sacrifice to the Great Spirit, to conciliate his favor and which was a means of preventing diseases.”
“Blood sacrifice was forbidden and replaced by the use of tobacco, today an important element in all traditional Native American ceremonies. Among many eastern tribes, East Star Man is regarded as the son of the Great Spirit, the Creator.” Wayne May, Christ in North America.
In 1927, Janne M. Sjödahl a Swedish immigrant and convert to the LDS church, wrote a book on one of the founding works in the area of Book of Mormon studies. In his book he said; “The Onondagas: These have special interest… It appears from this, that this warrior, Zelph, was an Onondaga, as well as a “white” Lamanite, and that the Onondagas (of New York), consequently must be of Lamanite lineage. It also appears that at least some of the mounds in the Ohio Valley were erected by the descendants of Lehi” J.M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon.
Perhaps the name Zelph is a masculine version of the Hebrew “zalaphah”, meaning “Raging Heat” – a fitting name for a zealous warrior. (Brown – Driver – Briggs – Gesenius Hebrew – Aramaic Lexicon, 2152, pg 273)
The Plains of the Nephites by Ken Corbett
“On the banks of the Mississippi, June 4th. 1834. My Dear Companion, I now embrace a few moments to dictate a few words that you may know how it is with us up to this date. We arrived this morning on the banks of the Mississippi, and were detained from crossing the river, as there was no boat that we could cross in, but expect a new one to be put into the river this evening, so that we are in hopes, to be able to cross tomorrow, and proceed on our journey. A tolerable degree of union has prevailed among the brethren or camp up to the present moment, and we are all in better circumstances of health apparently than when we started from Kirtland… 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 Nephites, recounting 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…” (Signed Personally) Joseph Smith Jr.” Joseph to Emma, 6.4.1834. Retained copy in handwriting of James Mulholland, Joseph Smith Letterbook 2, pp. 56–58, LDS Church Archives
In this personal love letter to Emma, Joseph says Zion’s Camp traveled on the same plains as those Nephites of the Book of Mormon. Joseph also explains these “once beloved people of the Lord” built these mounds. These are the same lands as the Hopewell Mound Builder Civilization that thrived in the heartland of the United States from 100 BC to 500 AD according to archeologists and scientists.
What better description from Joseph Smith than “the plains of the Nephites” when speaking about the heartland of North America. Imagine rolling hills, vast prairies, rivers, lakes, streams, majestic meadows, areas of wilderness, pastures, flatlands and timberland, just as spoken of in places of scripture. “…And it came to pass that when they had come to the city of Nephihah, they did pitch their tents in the plains of Nephihah, which is near the city of Nephihah.” Alma 62:18 (see D&C 117:8, Ether 14:15). It seems very unlikely that you could confuse the plains with the jungles of South and Central America.
Zion’s Camp brethren said they picked up the bones of ancient Nephites on the plains. From the mound they visited just a day or so earlier, they brought with them some bones of Zelph in their wagon. “Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my wagon and I carried it to Missouri.” Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, ed. Scott G. Kenney, 1:10. “We took the leg and thigh bones and carried them along with us to Clay County. All four appeared sound.” Heber C. Kimball, Times and Seasons, 6:788. “…We came to the bones of an extraordinary large person or human being, the thigh bones being 2 inches longer from one Socket to the other than of the Prophet who is upwards of 6 feete high which would have constuted some 8 or 9 feete high.” Moses Martin Diary, LDS Church Archives, spelling not corrected).
“As we look into the record, we find that after the first visit to the Hill Cumorah, Joseph told the story of the history of the early American inhabitants to his family. His mother wrote: “From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth—all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age.” This sounds like the first family home evening of this dispensation.
Then she continued to say: “We were now confirmed in the opinion that God was about to bring to light something upon which we could stay our minds, or that would give us a more perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation and the redemption of the human family. This caused us greatly to rejoice, the sweetest union and happiness pervaded our house, and tranquility reigned in our midst. During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.” Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, pp. 82-83. This was before he received the plates. He must have received this by revelation, for he knew the whole story of the content of the record that is now the Book of Mormon. He had had five long visits with Moroni, and his mother says he received many revelations.” Eldred G. Smith, Conference Report, October 1967, pp. 82-84
“From the time Father Bosley located near Avon, he found and plowed up axes and irons, and had sufficient to make his mill irons, and had always abundance of iron on hand without purchasing. In the towns of Bloomfield, Victor, Manchester, and in the regions round about, there were hills upon the tops of which were entrenchments and fortifications, and in them were human bones, axes, tomahawks, points of arrows, beads and pipes, which were frequently found; and it was a common occurrence in the country to plow up axes, which I have done many times myself.
I have visited the fortifications on the tops of those hills frequently, and the one near Bloomfield I have crossed hundreds of times, which is on the bluff of Honeyoye River, at the outlet of Honeyoye Lake.
In that region there are many small deep lakes, and in some of them the bottom has never been found. Fish abound in them. The hill Cumorah is a high hill for that country, and had the appearance of a fortification or entrenchment around it. In the State of New York, probably there are hundreds of these fortifications which are now visible, and I have seen them in many other parts of the United States. Readers of the Book of Mormon will remember that in this very region, according to that sacred record, the final battles were fought between the Nephites and Lamanites. At the hill Cumorah, the Nephites made their last stand prior to their utter extermination, A. D., 385. Thus was Heber preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, above the graves of the ancients of Israel, whose records with the fullness of that Gospel, and the relics of their prowess and civilization, were now whispering from the dust.” Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney Mounds at Cumorah
Christ Visits the Nephites in America’s Heartland by Kendra Burton
“The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming. The Nephite civilization had reached great heights. They were prosperous and industrious. They had built many cities with great highways connecting them. They engaged in shipping and trade. They built temples and palaces. But, as so often happens, the people rejected the Lord. Pride became commonplace. Dishonesty and immorality were widespread. Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers “had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils” (Hel. 6:38). “The people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning” (3 Ne. 6:12). And “Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world,” even as today (3 Ne. 6:15). Mormon noted that the Nephites “did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them” (3 Ne. 6:18)…
…Then a voice began to speak—a voice from the heavens that was heard throughout the entire land. The voice spoke of the terrible destruction and announced that this was a direct result of the wickedness and the abominations among the people. Imagine the feelings of the people when the voice asked, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Ne. 9:13).
Then the voice identified itself: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God” (3 Ne. 9:15). It was the voice of the very person who had been mocked and ridiculed and rejected by the wicked! It was the voice of Him whom the prophets proclaimed and for whom they were stoned and killed! It was the voice of the Master! He declared that by Him redemption came, that in Him the law of Moses was fulfilled, and that they were to offer a sacrifice unto Him of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
When the darkness had dispersed, a great multitude gathered around the temple in the land of Bountiful. Twenty-five hundred men, women, and children had come together. As they were conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death, they once again heard the voice.
Mormon tells us that “it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn” (3 Ne. 11:3). The first time and the second time the voice spoke, the people heard it but could not understand it.
The record then states that “again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it. … “And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Ne. 11:5–7). How few people in all the history of the world have heard the actual voice of God the Father speaking to them. As the people looked heavenward, “they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them” (3 Ne. 11:8). A glorious, resurrected being, a member of the Godhead, the Creator of innumerable worlds, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, stood before their very eyes!
“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. “And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Ne. 11:9–11).
The whole multitude fell to the earth. Jesus commanded them to rise and come forth unto Him. He invited them to thrust their hands into his side and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. One by one each of the twenty-five hundred present went forth. Indeed they “did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come” (3 Ne. 11:15). When the last one had stood face to face with the Savior and had come to know with an absolute surety of the reality of His resurrection, “they did cry out with one accord: “Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him…” (3 Ne. 11:16–17). Portions of a talk by Ezra Taft Benson President of the Church April 1987 “The Savior’s Visit to America”
Joseph Smith said, “Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, and power of God.
In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent…” Joseph Smith Wentworth Letter
Christ Visits the Nephites in America’s Heartland
A Message about my Painting, by Kendra Parrish Burton
“Jesus Christ came to His disciples in the Holy Land after His resurrection and said, “I am the good shepherd and know my sheep…And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10: 14-16). Through these scriptures we understand that Christ visited people in different areas of the world. Other scriptures talk of Christ coming to America: “…soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them (the people in America)—showing his body unto them, and ministering unto them…” (3 Nephi 10: 18-19). Additional scriptures say: “…they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him…” (3 Nephi 11: 8).
This painting shows Christ’s visit to what is now known as America. A possible location for this event is in the Heartland of North America where historically the Hopewell Native Americans lived until about 400 A.D. They had a culture of building mounds for ceremonial structures, synagogues or temples as well as homes of chief leaders. Mounds were also used as burial grounds. Many of their customs were passed down from ancestors who were descendants of Manasseh (son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, thus, grandson of Jacob, who was also named Israel). They came from ancient Jerusalem about 600 B.C. and after their ship crossed the ocean to the new world, they carried on their Hebrew traditions. “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass and of steel, and of gold, and of silver…And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things…” (2 Nephi 5: 15-16). The temple in this painting is designed after the buildings of the indigenous people of the day and is a modified version of Solomon’s tripartite design (larger center section with two smaller side sections). The draperies of the temple doors are fashioned with colors from the fabric of the biblical tabernacle which was made of “…blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair (Exodus 25: 4). Metal craftsmanship is shown on the temple representing symbols for Melchizedek, Aaronic, Star of David and the Native American spiral symbol for Life’s Journey. Precious metal work adorns the pillars, laver (golden wash basin), jewelry, pottery and the copper armor of the soldier. Pearls also adorn the soldier’s head plate on the ear flaps and are used in the jewelry and accessories of the people.
The Law of Moses was observed by these people and is acknowledged by several details in the painting: the temple with two pillars representing Boaz and Jachin (1 Kings 7:21), the alter, and the laver. The priest is releasing both the lamb and the dove while praising God because the ultimate sacrifice was fulfilled through Christ, himself. Jesus said, “…by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled…And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood…Your sacrifices…shall be done away…” (3 Nephi 9: 17-19). Additionally, the man on the right is holding the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet, symbol of God’s voice).
Christ administered the Sacrament to the gathering of people: “And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it… (3 Nephi 18:3). In the painting a woman and man are holding the bread and wine respectively. During Christ’s visit baptism was performed “down unto the water’s edge” (3 Nephi 19: 10). Rivers are shown in the painting as well as what represents a “great circle” of water surrounding the temple. Many animals can be viewed in the painting as well: sheep, goats, doves, oxen, horses and a distant herd of bison. (Enos 1: 21, Alma 18: 9-12). Patchwork fields of wheat, barley and corn are shown in the upper left. (Mosiah 9:9) A grape vineyard is in the upper right (Mosiah 11: 15). Larger wooden pickets with protective look-out towers surround the city and smaller wooden pickets surround the temple circle. As in biblical times, Christ healed the sick and afflicted. He also “took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And…he wept again… (3 Nephi 17: 9, 21-22). After Christ’s miraculous visit to the people in America there was peace in the land for many generations.
Jesus said, “And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you” (3 Nephi 20: 22). May we each feel the love of our Savior and know that He cares for all of His children in every time and in every land.” Kendra Burton
North America, A Land of Promise by Brooke Malia Mann
The Lord has always promised his covenant people who are faithful, four principle blessings. Posterity, prosperity, security and freedom, and a land of promise. The first recorded instance of a “land of promise” in scripture is a land called Cainan, named after a great-grandson of Father Adam (Moses 6:17). We understand through the scriptures that this land was near current day Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri (D&C 116:1).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Temporarily, we call it America. But it began with the single, primeval continent of Genesis, and the miracle of millennial healing will bring that unity again…
The most sacred of places, then, will always be those locations which God has designated for holy and eternal purposes, locations where he is the “doer of the deed.” These places are revered forever by his faithful children wherever they may be.
America is such a place, but of course it wasn’t always called America nor has it always been identified by a distinctive continental shape. Originally it was simply a portion of that large, single land mass which God in his creative process called “Earth” and which, when completed, was pronounced “good.” (Gen. 1:10.) Whatever its name and geographical configuration, however, it was from the beginning a land of divinity as well as a land of destiny.
The choicest part of this earthly creation was a garden “eastward in Eden” where God placed our first parents, Adam and Eve. This resplendent place filled with paradisiacal glory was located on that part of the land mass where the city Zion, or the New Jerusalem of the earth’s last days, would eventually be built… After Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, located in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. In that region this first family lived out their days, tilling the soil, tending the flocks, offering sacrifices, and learning the gospel of Jesus Christ from on high. There Adam prophesied concerning all the families of the earth and, three years before his death, called together the righteous remnant of his posterity and bestowed upon them his last blessing. The Lord appeared unto this faithful group and Adam’s family rose up “and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel… Never before had one spot of earth been favored with such a meeting, nor provided the stage for such sacred scenes from the drama of man’s ultimate destiny.
But even as such sacred manifestations and proclamations were recorded, the land was being polluted with unrighteousness. The willful Cain had already made his covenant with Satan and taken the life of his younger brother, Abel…
Two generations later the Lord was so pained by that generation “without affection” (Moses 7:33) that he opened the windows of heaven and cleansed the entire earth with water. Thus, the “everlasting decree” (Ether 2:10) was first taught that he who will not obey the Lord in righteousness will be swept from his sacred land. The lesson would be tragically retaught in dispensations yet to come.
Holy Scripture records that “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof.” (Ether 13:2.) Such a special place needed now to be kept apart from other regions, free from the indiscriminate traveler as well as the soldier of fortune. To guarantee such sanctity the very surface of the earth was rent. In response to God’s decree, the great continents separated and the ocean rushed in to surround them. The promised place was set apart. Without habitation it waited for the fulfillment of God’s special purposes.
With care and selectivity, the Lord began almost at once to repeople the Promised Land. The Jaredites came first, with stories of the great flood fresh in their memories and the Lord’s solemn declaration ringing in their ears… (Ether 2:8.) Despite such counsel, however, the Jaredite civilization steadily degenerated into a violent society which forced a man to keep “the hilt of his sword in his right hand” (Ether 14:2)…
But even as the last light flickered on Jaredite civilization, a bold new sun rose to illuminate a thousand years of Nephite-Lamanite experience on the same soil. Despite periods of war and rebellion, these people nevertheless had great moments of power and purity, including the personal ministry of the resurrected Christ, who walked and talked and prayed with these New World inhabitants for three indescribable days. There in the meridian of time the land enjoyed three generations of peace and perfection, which it would not know again until the Master’s millennial reign.
But the lessons of history, if not learned well, are certain to be taught again, and a lone father with his son lived to see the self-destruction of these people of promise. The Nephite-Lamanite morality descended from “sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics” (Morm. 1:19) into rape, murder, and cannibalism…
A thousand years after God had given such choice land to their fathers and a thousand years before he would attempt to do it again, Mormon wrote to his son Moroni: “O the depravity of my people! They are without order and without mercy…
In spite of such grief and despair the Lord of the vineyard determined to “spare it a little longer” (Jacob 5:50) long enough for one final attempt, long enough for one more dispensation, long enough for one final experiment focused on the Promised Land.
So, after a thousand years of preparation, the Spirit of God rested upon a young Italian [Columbus] sailing under the flag of Spain, and, as Nephi had seen in vision, “he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the Promised Land.” (1 Ne. 13:12.) This “Christian of almost maniacal devoutness”… was not to be denied…
As Elder Paul H. Dunn recently declared to a Church-wide audience: “(Joseph) grew up toward adolescence just like the new land. He fitted it. He was young, clean, unspoiled—a lad without a past, kneeling in a grove. This pristine land—this innocent young man—and thus the Lord reached out and kept his promise. He established his conditions over centuries; you see, God has time. His plan made it possible for the holy priesthood and the Church to be restored upon the earth—the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ—but only in America…The purpose of America was to provide a setting wherein that was possible. All else takes its power from that one great, central purpose.” (Ensign, Nov. 1975, p. 54.)
Elder Holland continues, “Thus in one final moment worthy men and righteous principles came together for the restoration of heavenly things. With his center stake in America, God began stretching the cords of his tabernacle to all the world… “And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.” (D&C 133:23–24.)
These two cities, Zion (the New Jerusalem) and the ancient city of Jerusalem, will be those capitals out of which both the word and law of the Lord shall go forth and to which all nations shall flow. (See Isa. 2:2–3.)
It is good that the historical celebration of the United States bicentennial allows us to focus on a land in which God has done so much of his work. It has not always looked the same geographically nor has it always been governed the same politically. But that all seems appropriate since the meaning of America, in its most theological sense, is something more than borders and boundaries, something above nativism and nationalism. It is an ideal, a thing of the spirit… As with temple sites, missionary service, and area general conferences, gospel experience transcends the borders—and, if necessary, the flames of nationalism…” Selected portions of a talk titled, “A Promised Land”, by Jeffrey R. Holland June 1976 Ensign
In Salt Lake City, July 4, 1854 Orson Hyde said, “The progressive spirit of the times, on the one hand, and the chains of cruelty and oppression, on the other, inspired the apostles of American freedom to raise the standard of liberty, and unfurl its banner to the world as a warning to oppressors, and as the star of hope to the oppressed. The very name of America causes a thrill of patriotic devotion to her best interests to quiver in the heart of every citizen of Utah, with a zeal and a pride for the welfare of our country that does honor to the memory of those departed heroes whose ashes are mingled in our soil, and made rich and dear to us by their own blood…
In those early and perilous times, our men were few, and our resources limited. Poverty was among the most potent enemies we had to encounter; yet our arms were successful; and it may not be amiss to ask here, by whose power victory so often perched on our banner? It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones, and remains of towns, cities, and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world.
This same angel was with Columbus, and gave him deep impressions, by dreams and by visions, respecting this New World. Trammeled by poverty and by an unpopular cause, yet his persevering and unyielding heart would not allow an obstacle in his way too great for him to overcome; and the angel of God helped him—was with him on the stormy deep, calmed the troubled elements, and guided his frail vessel to the desired haven. Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.
To what point have the American arms been directed since the Declaration of our National Independence, and proven unsuccessful? Not one! The peculiar respect that high Heaven has for this country, on account of the promises made to the fathers, and on account of its being the land where the mustard seed of truth was planted and destined to grow in the last days, accounts for all this good fortune to our beloved America…
So sure and certain as the great water courses wend their way to the ocean, and there find their level—so sure as the passing thundercloud hovers around yonder Twin Peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, and upon their grey and barren rocks pours the fury of its storm, just so sure and certain will the guardian angel of these United States fly to a remote distance from their borders, and the anger of the Almighty wax hot against them in causing them to drink from the cup of bitterness and division, and the very dregs, stirred up by the hands of foreign powers, in a manner more cruel and fierce than the enemies of the Saints in the day of their greatest distress and anguish; and all this because they laid not to heart the martyrdom of the Saints and Prophets, avenged not their blood by punishing the murderers, neither succored nor aided the Saints after they were despoiled of their goods and homes.
Would to God that we could forget this part of our experience in the land of our fathers! But we cannot forget it. It is incorporated in our being. We shall carry it to our graves, and in the resurrection it will rise with us. Had the United States been as faithful a guardian to the Latter-day Saints as the angel of God has been to them, she would never know dissolution, nor be humbled in dishonor by the decrees of any foreign powers…
When Justice is satisfied, and the blood of martyrs atoned for, the guardian angel of America will return to his station, resume his charge, and restore the Constitution of our country to the respect and veneration of the people; for it was given by the inspiration of our God.
One positive decree of Jehovah, respecting this land, is, that no king shall ever be raised up here, and that whosoever seeketh to raise up a king upon this land shall perish. The spirit of this decree is that no king shall bear rule in this country. And the islands contiguous to this land belong unto it by promise, for they are a part and parcel of the land of Joseph, and they geographically belong to it—belong to it by the covenants of the fathers: they also philosophically incline to this nearer and greater land.” Moroni Guardian Angel of America Orson Hyde Journal of Discourses 6:65.
Indeed this land of America and its leaders have been blessed with the protection of the Lord. “As details of the battle emerged, it turns out that either George Washington was extremely lucky, was bulletproof, or was being supernaturally protected. One Indian warrior testified that he had shot at him 17 times. He exclaimed that “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet!” Another Indian, Red Hawk, had shot and missed him 11 times. He had not missed a shot before, and became convinced that Washington was being supernaturally protected by the Great Spirit. In 1770, fifteen years after the battle, an old Indian told Washington that he had sought out to meet him. He had been fighting in the battle that day, and he had told all the Indians with him to shoot at him, and make sure that he died. When they all missed, he told them to stop. On that evening, he predicted that Washington would never die in battle, and would be “the founder of a mighty empire.” David.Barton, The Bulletproof George Washington.
Many locations in this land of America have been blessed by its guardian angel. “Moroni had the great privilege, as he walked across this American Continent, of finding a place and designating the place where the St. George temple was to be built. He also designated where the Manti Temple was to be. And it’s been written that he designated Kirtland and Nauvoo and probably others. Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith 22 different times during the life of the Prophet Joseph that we know of.” The Angel Moroni by Elder Glen L. Rudd
While serving as Mission President in Central Florida Brother Murray Rawson had the responsibility to work on the Seminole Indian reservation. While there he had numerous visits with the chief. While attempting to present the Book of Mormon the chief interrupted his message by saying: “We had a war long ago with the light skinned people around the Great Lakes. We conquered them but we had so much respect for their warrior chief that we buried him at the mouth of the Oswego River which is in New York State. We don’t discuss this very much because it is an embarrassment to us”. President Rawson asked why is this an embarrassment? “Our history is written on metal plates and buried in a hill in New York, but we don’t know which hill”! The Mystic Symbol, by Wayne N. May. Talk given to missionaries in training at the MTC, Provo, Utah 1979, by President Murray J. Rawson, Orem, Utah.
This United States of America is indeed, “A Land of Promise.” Moroni presides over the destinies of the United States, holds the keys of the Stick of Ephraim (D&C 27: 5), and is the guardian angel of this wonderful land. The Lord has said, “…repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon…” (D&C 84:57). As we study The Book of Mormon, we learn to love even more this blessed America we call “A Promised Land.”
Zion and our Western Tribes in North America
“You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion–where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land. When Elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies in the Bible, they will see it. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Page 362)
“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians, having been found through the ministration of an holy Angel translated into our own Language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years containing the word of God, which was delivered unto them, By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are desendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the Land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come. with as many of the gentiles as shall comply with the requesitions of the new co[v]en ant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem, The City, of Zion, spoken of by David in the 102 Psalm will be built upon the Land of America and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to it with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the Land But Judah shall obtain deliverence at Jerusalem see Joel 2. 32. Isaiah 26, 20 & 21, Jer. 31, 12, Psalm 50. 5, Ezekiel 34, 11, 12 & 13, These are testamonies that the good Shepherd will put forth his own sheep and Lead them out from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day, to Zion and to Jerusalem beside many more testamonies which might be brought——
And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the hystory of our nation pestalence hail famine and earthquake will sweep the wicked off this generation from off the face of this Land to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country— The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requsitions of the new covenant have already commenced gathering togethe[r] to Zion which is in the State of Missouri. Therefore I declare unto you the warning which the lord has commanded me to declare unto this generation, rembring [remembering] that the eyes of my maker are upon me and that to him I am accountabl for evry word I say wishing nothing worse to my fellow men then their eternal salvation therefore fear God, and give glory to him for the hour of his Judgment is come, <Repent ye> Repent, ye and imbrace the everlasting Covenant and flee to Zion before the over flowing scourge overtake you, For there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things which I have spoken fulfilled Rem[em]ber these things, call upon the Lord while he is near and seek him while he may be found is the exhortation of your unworthy servant
Joseph Smith Jr” Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 January 1833 from Joseph Smith Papers
THE MISSION TO THE LAMANITES
As the “mission to the Lamanites” is a very prominent event in early Church history, it is proper that the labors of the brethren engaged in at should be spoken of more fully than appears anywhere in the Prophet’s narrative and at this point following the letter of Oliver Cowdery seems as appropriate a place as will be found to speak of it. It has already been said that the brethren of the mission called upon the Cattaraugus tribe, near Buffalo, New York. (p. 120 note) After leaving Kirtland on their journey westward they visited the Wyandot tribe of Indians near Sandusky, Ohio with whom they spent several days. “We were well received,” writes Elder Parley P. Pratt, “and had an opportunity of laying before them the record of their forefathers, which we did They rejoiced in the tidings bid us Godspeed and desired us to write to them in relation to our success among the tribes further west, who had already removed to the Indian territory, where these expected soon to go.”–Aut. P. P. Pratt, p. 54.
On arriving at Independence two of the company secured employment, while the other three crossed the frontier and began their labors among the Indians They visited the Shawnees spending one night with them and the next day crossed the Kansas river and began their labors among the Delawares. They sought an interview with the chief of the Delawares, known among the whites as Chief Anderson. He was the grand sachem of ten nations or tribes and consequently possessed of large influence. He had always opposed the introduction of missionaries among his people and therefore did not at first extend a very hearty welcome to the brethren. However, through an interpreter the brethren made known their errand and explained to him the Book of Mormon and the information it contained for his people. They asked to be heard before a full council of his nation a proposition which the chief took under consideration until the next day. Next morning the conversation with the Delaware Chief was renewed, but he was not inclined at first to call the council. But as he began to understand better the nature of the Book of Mormon he changed his mind and asked the brethren to suspend their conversation until the council could be assembled. A runner was dispatched to the tribes and in about an hour forty leading men were assembled and seated in grave silence to hear the message concerning the book of their forefathers. At the request of the chief Oliver Cowdery in substance delivered the following address:
OLIVER COWDERY’S SPEECH TO THE DELAWARES.
“Aged Chief and venerable Council of the Delaware nation; we are glad of this opportunity to address you as our red brethren and friends. We have traveled a long from towards the rising sun to bring you glad news. We have traveled the wilderness crossed the deep and wide rivers and waded in the deep snows and in the face of the storms of winter, to communicate to you great knowledge which has lately come to our ears and hearts and which will do the red man good as well as the pale face.
“Once the red men were many; they occupied the country from sea to sea–from the rising to the setting sun; the whole land was theirs; the Great Spirit gave it to them, and no pale faces dwelt among them. But now they are few in numbers: their possessions are small, and the pale faces are many.
“Thousands of moons ago, when the red men’s forefathers dwelt in peace and possessed this whole land the Great spirit talked with them, and revealed His law and His will and much knowledge to their wise men and prophets This they wrote in a Book, together with their history and the things which should befall their children in the latter days.
“This Book was written on plates of gold and handed down from father to son for many ages and generations.
“It was then that the people prospered and were strong and mighty; they cultivated the earth built buildings and cities and abounded in all good things, as the pale faces now do.
“But they became wicked; they killed one another and shed much blood; they killed their prophets and wise men, and sought to destroy the Book. The Great Spirit became angry and would speak to them no more; they had no more good and wise dreams; no more visions, no more angels sent among them by the Great spirit; and the Lord commanded Mormon and Moroni, their last wise men and prophets to hide the Book in the earth that it might be preserved in safety and be found and made known in the latter-day to the pale faces who should possess the land that they might again make it known to the red men, in order to restore them to the knowledge of the will of the Great Spirit and to His favor. And if the red men would then receive this Book and learn the things written in it and do according thereunto, they should be restored to all their rights and privileges; should cease to fight and kill one another; should become one people; cultivate the earth in peace, in common with the pale faces who were willing to believe and obey the same Book and be good men and live in peace.
“Then should the red men become great and have plenty to eat and good clothes to wear, and should be in favor with the Great Spirit and be His children while He would be their Great Father and talk with them, and raise up prophets and wise and good men among them again who should teach them many things.
“This Book, which contained these things was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county.
“In that neighborhood there lived a young man named Joseph smith who prayed to the Great Spirit much in order that he might know the truth, and the Great Spirit sent an angel to him and told him where this Book was hid by Moroni, and commanded him to go and get it. He accordingly went to the place and dug in the earth and found the Book written on golden plates.
“But it was written in the language of the forefathers of the red men; therefore this young man, being a pale face, could not understand it; but the angel told him and showed him and gave him knowledge of the language and how to interpret the Book so he interpreted it into the language of the pale faces, and wrote it on paper and caused it to be printed, and published thousands of copies of it among them, and then sent us to the red men to bring some copies of it to them, and to tell them this news. So we have now come from him, and here is a copy of the Book, which we now present to our red friend, the Chief of the Delawares which we hope he will cause to be read and known among his tribe; it will do them good.”
We then presented him with a Book of Mormon.
There was a pause in the council and some conversation in their own language, after which the chief made the following reply:
THE CHIEF’S REPLY.
“We feel truly thankful to our white friends who have come so far and been at such pains to tell us good news, and especially this new news concerning the Book of our forefathers; it makes us glad in here,–placing his hand on his heart “It is now winter we are new settlers in this place; the snow is deep, our cattle and horses are dying our wigwams are poor; we have much to do in the spring–to build houses and fence and make farms, but we will build a council house and meet together, and you shall read to us and teach us more concerning the Book of our fathers and the will of the Great Spirit.
Elder Parley P. Pratt in his report of the matter adds; “We continued for several days to instruct the old Chief and many of his tribe. The interest became more and more intense on their part, from day to day, until at length nearly the whole tribe began to feel a spirit of inquiry and excitement on the subject. We found several among them who could read and to them we gave copies of the Book, explaining to them that it was the Book of their forefathers, some began to rejoice exceedingly and took great pains to tell the news to others in their own language. The excitement now reached the frontier settlements in Missouri, and stirred up the jealousy and envy of the Indian agents and sectarian missionaries to that degree that we were soon ordered out of the Indian country as disturbers of the peace, and even threatened with the military in case of non-compliance. We accordingly departed from the Indian country and came over the line, and commenced laboring in Jackson county, Missouri, among the whites We were well received and listened to by many, and some were baptized and added to the Church.
“Thus ended our first Indian mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fulness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three viz. The Cattaraugus Indians, near Buffalo, N. Y., the Wyandots, of Ohio and the Delawares, west of Missouri.–Aut. P. P. Pratt, pp. 56-61.(BHR)
“Joseph Smith locates Cumorah in Western New York. Perhaps this matter could rest at this point, but the question of the territory now embraced within the United States having been in possession of Nephites and Lamanites before the death of Mormon, carries some weight in the determining of this matter. In the light of revelation it is absurd for anyone to maintain that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess this northern land. While Zion’s camp was marching on the way to Jackson County, near the bank of the Illinois River they came to a mound containing the skeleton of a man. The history of this incident is as follows: “The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thickset man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or at least, in part-one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” (HC 2: 79-80)
“Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America… This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.” Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation
Visit of the Sac and Fox Indians to Nauvoo
“Thursday, 12.—A considerable number of the Sac and Fox Indians have been for several days encamped in the neighborhood of Montrose. The ferryman brought over a great number on the ferryboat and two flat boats for the purpose of visiting me. The military band and a detachment of Invincibles [part of the Legion] were on shore ready to receive and escort them to the grove, but they refused to come on shore until I went down. I accordingly went down, and met Keokuk, Kis-ku-kosh, Appenoose, and about one hundred chiefs and braves of those tribes, with their families. At the landing, I was introduced by Brother Hyrum to them; and after salutations, I conducted them to the meeting grounds in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon. I advised them to cease killing each other and warring with other tribes; also to keep peace with the whites; all of which was interpreted to them.” HC 4:401
Joseph Smith Wentworth Letter
“I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people was made known unto me: I was also told where there was deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgement [abridgment] of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent…
In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour [Savior] made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness [fullness], and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgement [abridgment]of their prophesies, history &c., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. For a more particular account I would refer to the Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our travelling [traveling] elders.” Joseph Smith
Ether and Moroni, One Cumorah
“As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction. I thought of the great promises the Lord had made through his prophets concerning those who should possess this choice land, and how these promises were not fulfilled because the people violated his commandments. Here a people perished because of their extreme wickedness. There must be something in the destiny of things that would cause a repetition of this terrible scene on the same spot many centuries later. I reflected and wondered if this unhappy time would ever come when another still mightier people would incur the wrath of God because of wickedness and likewise perish. If so, would this same spot witness their destruction? Joseph F. Smith Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3. p. 242
“The hill Cumorah is a high hill for that country, and had the appearance of a fortification or entrenchment around it. In the State of New York, probably there are hundreds of these fortifications which are now visible, and I have seen them in many other parts of the United States.” Readers of the Book of Mormon will remember that in this very region, according to that sacred record, the final battles were fought between the Nephites and Lamanites. At the hill Cumorah, the Nephites made their last stand prior to their utter extermination, A.D. 385. Thus was Heber preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, above the graves of the ancients of Israel, whose records with the fullness of that Gospel, and the relics of their prowess and civilization, were now “whispering from the dust.” (Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney page 41)
“When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than, probably, many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates–it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and His Christ.” Brigham Young in J of D 19:38.
“Consider how very fortunate we are to be living in this land of America … Many great events have transpired in this land of destiny. This was the place where Adam dwelt; this was the place where the Garden of Eden was; it was here that Adam met with a body of high priests at Adam-ondi-Ahman shortly before his death and gave them his final blessing, and the place to which he will return to meet with the leaders of his people (D&C 107:53-57). This was the place of three former civilizations: that of Adam, that of the Jaredites, and that of the Nephites.” Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 587-588
“This then becomes the Lord’s base of operations in these latter days. And this base will not be shifted out of its place—the land of America. This nation will, in a measure at least, fulfil its mission even though it may face serious and troublesome days. The degree to which it achieves its full mission depends upon the righteousness of its people. God has, through his power, established a free people in this land as a means of helping to carry forward his purposes. It was his latter-day purpose to bring forth his gospel in America, not in any other place. It was in America where the Book of Mormon plates were deposited. That was no accident. It was his design. It was in this same America where they were brought to light by angelic ministry. It was” . . . [here] “where he organized his modern Church, where he, himself made a modern personal appearance,” The Lord’s Base of Operations Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1962
“Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America… This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case. “In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America. Neither can we say that the great struggle which resulted in the destruction of the Nephites took place in Central America. If Zelph, a righteous man, was fighting under a great prophet-general in the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites; if that great prophet-general was known from the Rocky Mountains to “the Hill Cumorah or eastern sea,” then some of those battles, and evidently the final battles did take place within the borders of what is now the United States.” Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.232
“Thus perished at the foot of Cumorah the remnant of the once mighty Jaredite nation, of whom the Lord had said, “There shall be none greater … upon all the face of the earth.” (Ether 1:43.)… This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites, flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’… The tragic fate of the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations is proof positive that the Lord meant it when he said that this “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:9.) This information, wrote Moroni, addressing himself to us who today occupy this land, “cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles” (now, Gentiles is the term used by the Book of Mormon prophets to refer to the present inhabitants of America and to the peoples of the old world from which they came)” America’s Destiny Marion G. Romney October 1975
“…Behold I, Mormon, began to be old;…and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.” Mormon 6:6 “And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah; and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.” Ether 15:11
Giclees and Prints
The Plains of the Nephites
Christ Visits the Nephites in America’s Heartland