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Views from Turtle Island: Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Mormon Entanglements

  • Thomas W. MurphyEmail author
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Abstract

There is a story that has been told and retold in Indigenous communities. In this oral tradition, Seneca farm hands, acquaintances of Joseph Smith, tutored him on the basics of the Gaiwí:yo, the Word taught by the prophet Handsome Lake. They thought “what the white people need to do is to take the best of their Christian heritage and traditions and stuff that come out of their European ways and mix it with the Indigenous ways of the people who have lived on this land for a long time.” To facilitate the launching of a new religion for the settlers who had come to Turtle Island (a Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] name for North America), the farm hands melted down some gold they had received as payment from the British for their role in the War of 1812. On tablets of gold they inscribed the Gaiwí:yo in “picture writing,” buried them, and invited the incipient Mormon seer to find and interpret these records with a Christian emphasis “so that your people will tune into it.”

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edmonds CollegeLynnwoodUSA

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