"The truth will set you free...
but first it will piss you off."
Author: Phillip B Gottfredson Black Hawk's Mission of Peace
Because it isn't taught in school, many Mormons have never had to face the dark past of the Black Hawk War, and now 150 years later, the truth comes to light, and most are unprepared to deal with the facts.
Historians say that less than 3% of the population of Utah knows of its past with Native Americans. Why? Because the Mountain Meadow Massacre, the Black Hawk War, Circleville Massacre, Grass Valley Massacre, Bear River Massacre, and over a hundred other bloody events have been glossed over, left out of school curriculum, and Church cannon.
The historical records of these events can easily be found in nearly every library throughout the state and in bookstores. And what is interesting is that if we are Mormons, we feel guilt should we be caught discussing these accounts. Doing so may bring into question allegiance to the Church.
As Mormons, we are taught that we should never question the authority of the Church. To follow with blind faith those who are the chosen mouthpiece of God.
In the following e-mail, a viewer said the following:
"Mormons are taught to obey the Prophet, even if he is wrong. The following quotes from Mormon leaders illustrate the mindset:
"I remember years ago when I was a Bishop, I had President (Heber J.) Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home . . . Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'" (CR, October 1960, p. 78.)
"Wherefore, meaning the Church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you." (D&C 21:4-6)
"It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church -- even when that criticism is true," said Apostle Dallin H. Oaks -Anonymous
Church Historian D. Michael Quinn 1981 spoke to an assembly of Church members, saying: "The Accommodation History advocated by Elders Benson and Packer and practiced by some LDS writers is intended to protect the Saints, but disillusions them and makes them vulnerable... The tragic reality is that there have been occasions when Church leaders, teachers, and writers have not told the truth they knew about difficulties of the Mormon past but have offered to the Saints instead a mixture of platitudes, half-truths, omissions, and plausible denials..." I read where brother Quinn was excommunicated for taking a stand for truth in education.
Professional historians and noted scholars like Will Bagley, Juanita Brooks, and many others have studied these events in-depth. Well, it's all there, my friends, seek and ye shall find! But whether you accept it or not, that's your choice, but your opinion doesn't change the facts. What matters is that we take the time to learn and openly discuss these issues and events.
Obviously, Mormons who are shocked, stunned, and hurt haven't read a damn thing. They are attached to dogma, afraid to doubt and open their hearts and minds. Okay, they are being blindsided by a truth they have not been told about. It is natural why there is so much irritation being expressed. But you know what, think for a minute. Consider the victims and descendants of those victims who have endured generations of pain and anger.
For example, I have personal contact with one of the descendants of John D. Lee, who led the attack on the Fancher party, known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. While they don't deny his involvement in the massacre, they stated they and their children have been ridiculed. My point is that we should be respectful to those who are descendants of these people like Lee, whose lives are affected every day by their ancestor's past. And have the critics addressed their sufferings? Hell no! They are too arrogant to reach out to them.
I often think of those Black Hawk War days. The killing was a common occurrence. I try to grasp what kind of atmosphere is created for all living in Utah during the war. It had to be a place where people lived in fear and depression daily. I mean, come on, how could you not be affected by death and dying all about you? I have accounts of church members that wanted to leave Utah because it was just too much for them but were threatened by Church leaders if they did. Brigham Young had his militia take control of all the mail coming and going from Utah. The mail was intercepted, opened, and read to ensure that news of the circumstances did not reach the outside world. People lived in total fear and near isolation until the railroad was completed in 1867. Then the population exploded, going from approximately 80,000 to nearly 160,000 in just over a year, and doubled again by 1873. By then, I think people, for the most part, choose not to talk about their dark past and focus their attention on the future.
At last, they were filled with the hope of being liberated from the evil carnage. Our ancestors found relief in replacing their fears and disgust with the intoxicating future of progress as they embraced the American dream. And the more distance they could put between themselves and the past, the better. They embraced every opportunity to sugarcoat their history, setting the stage for romanticized and sanitized versions of how the west was won. However far-fetched movies and stories that exonerated the whites and demonized Native Americans may have been, it was the medicine needed for whites to heal their burning consciences for the evils and wrongdoings of their ancestors. Hence the birth of slogans such as "That's all in the past, we should just forget about it and move on," A slogan that continues to roll off the tongues of modern Mormon society today.
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have expressed sympathy for our ancestors. "My heart has gone out to the descendants," Elder Dallin Oaks said. "What a terrible thing to contemplate that the barbarity of the frontier and the conditions of the Utah war, whatever provocations were perceived to have been given, would have led to ... such an extreme atrocity perpetrated by members of my faith." - Christian Science Monitor.
See: Truth in Education