an archive of unsettling histories, mythistories, and mystories
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
Six months after Joseph Smith organized his church he sent missionaries to the Cattaraugus Tribe & other Indigenous Peoples. Joseph commanded these missionaries to marry these Indigenous women so “that their posterity may become white & delightsome.”
But Mormon leaders sought greater goals than just the assimilation of their supposedly fallen brother –– They sought an army & insurrection, they sought empire.
Mormonism is founded on the belief that we are in the Latter-days, or End-times. These End-Times will culminate in the return of Jesus as the King of a global Mormon Zion (empire). To bring this to pass Mormons must prepare their Zion through the overthrow of the fallen U.S. ––specifically with an army of converted Indigenous Persons.
This belief is shown in the White Horse Prophecy, said to be given by Smith in 1843:
“You will see the Constitution of the U.S. almost destroyed, it will hang is if by a thread…it will be saved by the efforts of the White Horse (Mormons) & the Red Horse (converted Lamanites) who will combine in its defense.”
A statement on prophecy on this church's website reads: "The so-called 'White Horse Prophecy' is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research & is not embraced as Church doctrine." Yet as you can read in the second half of this post, leaders have repeated this prophecy throughout this church’s history, including politicians.
And as you can read below, Mormon leaders were clearly gathering an army to fight against the U.S. as part of their Zion-building settler-project.
So, whether those words were spoken by Smith or not, this Prophecy is in fact, “substantiated by historical research," despite what the current leadership claims.
Or as Mormon insurrectionist Ryan Bundy says: “Whether the church calls it doctrine or not, we got quotes from several prophets reiterating that…I take the words of the prophets both modern & previous ones seriously. That’s what I’ve read…that’s what I believe.”
Mormon U.S. Insurrection & Indigenous Assimilation
“I tell you the (Indigenous People) of these mountains will yet be a shield to this people if we do right and…look to these poor degraded natives.”
- Wilford Woodruff
“It would seem that it’s the fate of the Indian as a race to be wiped out and become extinct…but hope lies for them in the fact that God foretold He would not permit their utter destruction…I am looking to the fulfillment of all things that the Lord has spoken, Zion is bound to rise and flourish. The Lamanites will blossom as the rose on the mountains.”
- Wilford Woodruff
“The Latter-day Saints in these mountains never can have the privilege of going back to Jackson County and building…the New Jerusalem … until quite a large portion of (Indigenous People) go back with us.”
- Orson Hyde
“President Young in his address to the Saints…said (U.S. Pres) Polk…had a hand in the death of Joseph and Hyrum. And that they should be damned for these things. If they ever sent any men to interfere with us here, they shall have their throats cut. With uplifted hands to Heaven (Young) swore…that he would never cease…to make every preparation and avenge blood of the Prophets and Saints. That he intended to have every hole and corner from the Bay of Francisco to Hudson Bay known to us. And that our people would be connected with every tribe of Indians throughout America. And that our people would yet take their squaws, wash and dress them up, teach them and raise up children by them. And not many generations hence they will become a white and delightsome people. In no other way will it be done.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, July 28, 1847 (Mormons had been in so-called Utah for only four days)
“Young..counselled the brethren to buy up the Lamanite children as fast as they could and educate them and teach them the gospel so that not many generations they would be a white and delightsome people for the Lord could not have devised a better plan than to have put us where we are in order to accomplish this thing.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, May 12, 1851
“By and by (Indigenous People) will be the Lord’s battle ax in good earnest.”
- Brigham Young to Las Vegas Fort missionaries 1855
"If the Lord blesses us…we can have 1000 brave warriors on hand in a short time to help quell the eruption (the Utah War) that might take place in the principalities.”
- John Steele, Las Vegas Fort missionary 1855
“Young said that the U. S. are fools to…send out troops to fight us. This season we shall whip them out; then they will send out reinforcements; then we shall have the Lamanites with us and the more the United States send out, the worse off they will be, for they will perish with famine.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, August 2, 1857 (Utah War started a month earlier)
Young said “If the government of the United States persists in sending armies to destroy us, in the name of the Lord, we shall conquer them…I shall not hold the Indians still by the wrist any longer for white men to shoot at them, but I shall let them go ahead and do as they please and I shall carry the war into their own land…You may tell them they must stop all emigration across this continent. The Indians will kill all that attempt it.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, September 13, 1857 (Mountain Meadows Massacre started 7 days prior and ended on the 11th)
“Elder John D. Lee also arrived with an awful tale of blood. A company of California emigrants of about 150 men, women and children, many of them belonged to the mob in Missouri and Illinois…They wanted to do all the evil they could, so they poisoned the springs of water; several of the saints died. The Indians became enraged at their conduct and they surrounded them on a prairie, but the Indians fought them 5 days until they killed all their men about 60 in number. They then rushed into their corral and cut the throats of their women and children, except some 8 or 10 children, which they brought and sold to the whites.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, September 29, 1857. (Elder Lee was the organizer and an enactor of this massacre. No Indigenous Peoples participated in this massacre. Mormons continued to blame Nuwu for this for 150 years.)
“President Heber C. Kimball..said that the United States would not go down very speedily, but gradually…and he was satisfied that the Indians would do their rough work in a great measure before they embraced the Gospel.”
- Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, January 9, 1858
the White Horse Prophecy
“This Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to peices [sic] and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff upon which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear the constitution away from the very verge of destruction.”
- Founding Pres. Joseph Smith 1840
“When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the 'Mormon' Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it."
- 2nd Pres. Brigham Young, 1855
"You and I have heard all our lives that the time may come when the Constitution may hang by a thread... if we are to live as a Church, and progress, and have the right to worship... we must have the great guarantees that are set up by our Constitution."
- Served in 1st Pres. under 3 Prophets, U.S. Sec of State & Ambassador, J. Reuben Clark, 1942
"I have always felt that they meant that sometime the question of whether we are going to proceed on the basis of the Constitution would arise and at this point government leaders who were Mormons would be involved in answering that question."
- U.S Sec. of Housing & Michigan Governor, George Romney, 1967
"I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington… It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church – men and women who will subscribe to and abide by the principles of the Constitution."
- U.S. Sec of Ag. & 13th Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, 1986
“Religious freedom is going to go down the drain, too… I’ve never seen it worse than this, where the Constitution literally is hanging by a thread.”
- U.S. Sen. of Utah for 42 years, Orrin Hatch, 2000
“Our Constitution was being violated. That it was hanging by a thread.”
- Mormon insurrectionist Ammon Bundy on his armed take-over of the Malheur Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, 2016
“I testify of the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States and pray that we who recognize the Divine Being who inspired it will always uphold and defend its great principles.”
- Dallin H. Oaks, 2021
“Whether the church calls (the White Horse Prophecy) doctrine or not, we got quotes from several prophets reiterating that. What the church’s official position on it or not, that I don’t know. I take the words of the prophets both modern and previous ones seriously.That’s what I’ve read, that’s what I’ve heard, that’s what I believe.”
- Mormon insurrectionist Ryan Bundy
On October 29, 2022, Timpanogos Chairman Perry Murdock shared his People’s histories as passed down to him through his Grandfather Wakara with a group at Pioneer Park, the former site of the first Mormon fort, on Timpanogos land.
Soon after Brigham and co. first arrived in Timpanogos, Goshute, & Eastern Shoshone land now occupied by Salt Lake City he lied to Timpanogos leader Wakara.
As Brigham was telling his followers “This is the Place!” He told Wakara that Mormons were only passing thru to California, but needed to overwinter in Timpanogos land. So the People helped the Mormons. Taught them to survive in these lands. Timpanogos and Goshute taught Mormons how to harvest Sego Lily bulbs among many other plants that never made it onto the Utah flag.
Mormons received these gifts and stayed friendly for a short time. But once Mormon population grew enough, Brigham and the Mormon colonists turned militant.
After only 2 1/2 years in Timpanogos lands Brigham Young the entire @churchofjesuschrist First Presidency and Quorum of 12 Apostles signed the Timpanogos Extermination Order, or Special Order no. 2.
This order, signed on Jan 31st, 1850, has never been recinded.
I don’t think we went to a Mormon history musuem this week that DIDNT address the Mormon Extermination Order signed by Missouri Governor Boggs.
This order was signed only 12 years before Mormons signed the Timpanogos Extermination Order. The Mormon one was recinded in the 1970s. The Timpanogos one is still in effect.
Today the Salt Lake Tribune consistently refuses to publish articles and histories which Murdock submits to the paper. The Timpanogos Extermination Order is nearly unknown among Mormon practitioners and Utahns. But it has not been forgotten by the Mormon authorities or Timpanogos People. They continue to live under the thumb of the terrorizing genocidal colonists who continue to dominate, desiccate, and destroy Timpanogos lands, waters, and sovereignty.
This is just one clear and direct example of how both Mormon settler colonialism in general and the Mormon war for land specifically, is ongoing.
We have a generational responsibility to reckon with this ongoing history and change it in the present for the sake of our futures.
As Perry says, “It didn’t have to be this way”
On September 11, 1857:
On this 9/11, my people massacred ~120 Euro-settler migrants, the Baker-Fancher wagon train, (in front of their children) who were passing through Mormon-occupied Nuwu (Southern Paiute) territory in so-called Southern Utah on their way to California.
For the 5 days prior to 9/11 this wagon party was assaulted by my People who were dressed in Red Face in order to make the U.S. believe that "Indians" were the perpetrators of this massacre.
When the Mormon Militia members feared that their whiteness had been discovered they decided to approach in white skin, under a white flag and offer safe passage away from their "Indian" assailants. While escorting the Baker-Fanchers away, my People turned on a signal and massacred men, women, children (and possibly non-binary folk).
On 9/11, all in the Baker-Fancher party deemed old enough to remember were massacred by the Mormon Utah Territory Militia. Everyone except for seventeen children, 6-years-old and younger who were not murdered, but abducted and adopted into Mormon families. (Mormons were also “adopting” enslaved Nuwu children then too) The Baker-Fancher’s property was then stolen and divided up.
The children remembered. And their children are now Baby Boomers.
It took 150 years for Mormons to stop blaming the Nuwu for this horror.
"For 150 years no one asked for our account" - Lora Tom, of the Paiute Nation.
After 150 years of genocide and dominance the LDS Church only expressed “profound regret” to the Nuwu for blaiming the Mountain Meadows Massacre on them. On that same day the church made it very clear they were not apologizing though, as Mark Tuttle, a church spokesman shared, “We don’t use the word ‘apology.’ We used ‘profound regret." And a few years later, Dallin H. Oaks, when asked if the church would apologize for it's anti-LGBTQIA2s+ history, said, "I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies or to give them," and made clear that the church doesn't "seek apologies...and we don't give them."
Fuck repentance I guess 🤷🏼
The stones used to build the Mountain Meadows Massacre monument were found on the site of the massacre. They been there for millenia already as Nuwu and their Pueblo ancestors cared for this land. The stones were witnesses to this massacre and now they remember the massacre for us.
My great-great-great grandpa and his father may have been a part of this massacre as they were enlisted in the Iron County militia at this time. But because of the lies and secrecy surrounding this event at the time, I have no way of knowing for certain if these ancestors participated or refused. Given that they did leave town and weren't powerful Mormons, I assume they were there.
What still lives in my body as generational witness to these horrors?
Brigham Young's spiritually-adopted son #JohnDLee, who led the massacre, was the only person held responsible. No one has really been held legally responsible for the massacres of Indigenous people during this period. John D. Lee's descendants include U.S. Senators Mike Lee, Gordon H. Smith, and Mark and Tom Udhall. Tom Udall is being considered for #SecretaryOfInterior (person in charge of managing all the stolen land in the U.S.) by Biden. Udall’s dad, Stewart Udall, served in this position under Kennedy and Johnson.
Indigenous people often talk about their responsibilities to their ancestors or how their ancestors are with them. I often wonder what my ancestors think of the work I do. Do they regret the ways they chose to survive and believe? Are they with me now helping to change the world they helped build?
Suggested reading: Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows by Will Bagley. 2002
Ensign Peak Advisors is the investment management company for assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both Ensign Peak Advisors and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are trademarks owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. holds the church's intellectual property, including copyrights and trademarks and is wholly owned and operated by the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Like many other billionaires this church’s wealth grew by $2.4 billion over the pandemic
These investments have made this church the second most wealthy religious organization in the world. These investments also actively contribute to climate chaos and the sixth extinction (gotta bring those latter-days), oil and gas extraction, Indigenous land rights abuses, child-enslavement, worker exploitation, predatory lending, profit from healthcare, and outright poison people. These are the contemporary money handlers who make Jesus table-flipping mad.
If this church were a nation (say like a nation called Deseret) and it’s current wealth were its GDP, it would be around the 70th most wealthy nation in the world. This list contains 213 nations, which hypothetically ranks this church in the top ⅓ most wealthy nations.
This wealth was originally created through the collection of tithing. Mormon practitioners must pay 10%+ of their income to be "worthy" members and have access to the rituals that ensure Mormon salvation and eternal life with one’s earthly family.
Ensign Peak Advisors is named after Ensign Peak.
Ensign Peak is a hilltop park on public lands in the foothills near downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. It is approximately one mile north of the Utah State Capitol and sits almost directly behind it. Two days after arriving in the Timpanogos lands, on July 26, 1847, Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders climbed this hill and gave the peak its present name. Thus, the hill is given religious significance in Mormon history and symbolism.
The Deseret flag is the ensign of this Mormon separatist theocratic ethnostate that fought against the U.S., was never recognized by the U.S., & directly stole Indigenous homelands through genocide, massacre, and assimilation.
And much like the more well-known flag of separatist nation who fought against, and was never recognized by the U.S. (the confederate battle flag) there are Deseret Nationalist (or DezNat) white supremacists who want to bring this nation back into existence.
So what exactly is a religious flag with white supremacist ties doing in a government owned park?
I don't know. That's a question for the SLC council.
–And a moment to acknowledge
that the US flag is also a symbol
of white supremacist violence
to many people--
"To some people, it's the flag carried by the cavalry that enacted genocide on Native Americans, that dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and napalm on Vietnam. It's the flag worn by cops who shoot people in the back.
It's the flag of a country pillaging the world."
- Dread Scott
“The US flag is as much a symbol of oppression and terrorism against Black people as the Confederate flag. The dehumanization and oppression of Black people is not only built into the Constitution, it's an American past-time that takes place under the Stars and Stripes."
- Kirsten West Savalionva
*You may notice that the colors are inverted: this flag may or may not have been the flag of Deseret, the only source for the description of this flag was from an anti-Mormon territorial trader named Maguire, who was passing thru to make sure that Brigham Young, "the old devil," was dead.
So I'm loving the way Under the Banner of Heaven is tying the violent extremism of Mormonism's founders to the Lafferty murder, but what I've yet to see is the series pointing to the influence of prophets contemporary to the Lafferty's--specifically Ezra Taft Benson who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve the year of this murder.
Most of the Lafferty boys were born in the 1940's. During their teens & early 20's (the 1960's) ~75% of Benson's General Conference talks were on a far-right/ constitutionalist/US. exceptionalist/libertarian political topics.
In the decades between the Lafferty brothers' births & the 1884 murder, W. Cleon Skousen taught religion (mixed with far-right politics) for 15 yrs at BYU, and wrote different books combining far-right politics and Mormon history. Skousen was also chief of SLC police during the Lafferty's teen years.
Skousen and Benson were friends and followers of the far-right, anti-communist, constitutionalist hate group--the John Birch Society.
Beginning in 1967, 17 yrs before the Lafferty murder, Skousen also founded the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). Skousen's NCCS still exists and is hugely influential to far-right Mormon activists & politicians like the Bundys, Glenn Beck, Orrin Hatch, & Mike Lee.
“No one is better qualified to discuss the threat to this nation from communism.” -Ronald Reanan, United States President
His books are popular among conservative politicians broadly thanks to Glenn Beck. Orrin Hatch eulogized Skousen (an early contributor to Hatch's campaigns) from the senate floor. Ben Carson marks Skousen’s book, "The Naked Communist" as one of his favorites. Carson liked it so much he even plagiarized from it when writing his own book. Ezra Taft Benson told Mormons from the General Conference pulpit that they should all read Skousen's "The Naked Communist" in tandem with the church's official pamphlet on communism.
"According to the NCCS, the founding of the United States was a divine miracle. As such, the NCCS worldview and program are based on two major pillars: (1) understanding the divine guidance that has allowed the United States to thrive and (2) rejecting what it views as the sometimes tyrannical or sinful deviations of the modern U.S. federal government from that divine mold. Skousen's NCCS follows Mormon ideology that the founding of the US was a divine miracle & that it is up to Mormon to save the constitution when it is "hanging as if by a thread'" because of modern deviations from the founding purposes.
This supposed divinity of US constitutional & Mormon originalism is what led the Lafferty's & leads the Bundys & DezNats to radical extremism & justifies their violent, patriarchal white-settler-suprmacist, US-exceptionalist beliefs and actions.
Obsessing over the divinity of the violently white-supremacist founding fathers of both the U.S. & Mormonism is inherently tied.
I am nicholas b jacobsen, an artist, researcher, historian, educator, and organizer. I am a trans-non binary Euro-settler raised in the Nuwu lands of so-called Utah. My family has been Mormon and Utahn for as long as either of those concepts have existed. My ancestors sacrificed everything--their identities, homelands, jobs, health, & safety to become Mormon, Utahn, U.S. American, & white--to settler their Zion. They also sacrificed their humanities as they committed genocide against Kuttuhsippeh (Goshute), Timpanogos Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Ute, Nuwu (Southern Paiute), and Diné (Navajo). Because my ancestors made my home through Indigenous genocide in their home/lands––I take it as my personal responsibility to unsettle what my ancestors settled, while helping my fellow settlers do the same through reading, writing, art, and community building.