Tuesday, April 10, 2012

42: Joseph Smith, the American Indians and the Book of Mormon:

Here are some paintings that I think are important. The first photo is of an 1890 oil painting of Joseph Smith preaching to the Indians. The painting was commissioned for the Salt Lake Temple and it hung there for over fifty years. It no longer hangs in the temple. The painting likely depicts the August 12, 1841 visit of Joseph Smith with more than one hundred chiefs and braves of the Sac and Fox Indians and their families. During the meeting in the grove near the Nauvoo temple the Prophet explained the Book of Mormon. He told them of the special religious commitment the Latter-day Saints have to Native Americas.


The next painting depicts Elder Orson Pratt with more Native Americans. It depicts when Orson obtained written permission to stay the winter on the lands of the Otoe and Omaha Indian nations. Hosea Stout recorded that Elder Pratt told them that “our great chief (Joseph Smith) found a book that was about their people. He explained that the Saints were driven and persecuted because they believed in this book. The Indians “listened with breathless silence.”

From the introduction to the Book of Mormon we read:

“The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

I wonder if we have lost touch with one of the main reasons why the Book of Mormon was written. Mormon states on the Title Page to the Book of Mormon that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is  “is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers.”

Not sure we have really accomplished this mission to show the remnant (those that are among the ancestors of  American Indians) what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers. Instead it seems like we have put a lot of resources and money into other things.  

Isa. 28: 1-3
“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! ..The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet.”