Ignorance The Root of All
Many times I have been told with
intensity by people here in Utah, the Black Hawk War "that's all in the past, we should just
forget about it and move on." And Nauvoo, Carthage, Illinois; Mountain
Meadows Massacre, the Civil War and so forth are in the past too? Shall we
apply the same mindset and forget those events and move on? Then why is it
ok to apply one standard for certain people and not equally? And what about
the descendants of those who's ancestors were so brutally treated, is it
fair to ask them to just forget about the past and move on? It would be
immoral to forget such human injustices as the Utah Black Hawk War.
The indigenous people of Utah have
suffered unimaginable physical and mental torment. Exiled from their home,
forced onto desolate reservations, thousands die from pandemic disease. They
were blamed for mass murders. They were beheaded, and tortured. How many
from died from hopelessness and despair? The honest answer will never be known.
Their mortal remains were put on public display as a mere curiosity and
entertainment, what other reason could there be, perhaps to express
dominance and supremacy? These are glaring examples of the "saints" mindset
of arrogance, and moral ambiguities.
As shocking the Massacre at Mountain
Meadows has been to thousands of people, there is no other event comparable
to the trail of tears left behind in the aftermath of the Mormon domination
over the Timpanogos of Utah. And last, but not least, they
have been portrayed as a "loathsome" people who's dark skin is God's
punishment for the sins of their forefathers. One Saint offered this
explanation, "In those early days it was at times imperative that harsh
measures should be used. We had to do these things, or be run over by them.
It was a question of supremacy between the white man and the Indian." This
statement was made by John Lowry, the man accused of having triggered the
war. It is the single most honest statement I have thus far read in my six
years of research of the war.
I think the time is way past due that we take
a closer look at our Mormon heritage and begin asking questions, reading the
accounts, and learning from our history how fanaticism leads to extremism?
The indigenous people of Utah are
grossly misunderstood by contemporary society, as are all Native American
Indians. Their complex cultures are their traditions; their languages are
their traditions; their traditions are orally passed from parent to child
many of which take a life time to learn. Once lost, they are gone forever.
We should have an America where these unique cultures thrive. "Surely God
would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the
infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality." -
Today I was told by a influential
Mormon man that he "can't see why it is such a big deal that the Utah
Indians are so concerned about loosing their languages and culture." he
said, "I am Scandinavian, and my ancestors came from Norway. I don't speak
Norwegian or follow those traditions. My life is good and I don't feel I
have lost anything." He would not allow me to speak to his comment, he kept
interrupting me. But Norway, as with all Scandinavian countries, are intact,
and their languages are alive as are their customs and traditions. And if
this man wanted to learn to speak his native tongue and live the traditions
of his ancestors, he could. But when American languages are lost, they are lost forever and with that goes their culture.
Unlike the indigenous people in Utah and
elsewhere, this is their homeland. This man had not been stripped of his
ways completely. He was not forced speak English or severely punished for
practicing his religion. He was not forced to dress & wear his hair a
certain way. His society did not kill the white, and spare the child. He was
not taken from fertile places & put far away on desolate lands. Nor were his
God given staples taken far from him & his family in hopes they would starve
to death. Speaking of God, he was not told he would no longer pray to Him
either, or there be no more of his churches to attend. This man was not
banned from town, voting & public places.
He was not forced to sign treaties, one's he could not read or
comprehend. Treaties that "ceded" Indian lands to non-Indians. He was not told by
General Philip Sheridan that if he did not sign, he would "walk knee deep in
the blood of his people."
This man I spoke with was not ordered by the government to remain or
pay a penalty, which may be incarceration into an insane asylum, death, or
maybe it would forced removal to a different reservation so he would never
see his people again under penalty of death. BUT, this man's ancestors were
treated this way which was the very reason they and hundreds of thousands
like them came to America to be free! Free to worship in their own way. Free
to speak. Free to live their lives according to the dictates of their own
conscience. Free of government dominance. Free to live in a society that
believes in equality and justice as an inalienable right to live a decent life.