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
White supremacy in genealogy: "The history of gentiles and the history of Israel meet on the American continent": part 6
This post explores the way Mormonism frames both Jews & Peoples Indigenous to this continent as formerly-Chosen, now-fallen Peoples and Northern European Mormons as the new Chosen People having replaced Jews as heirs of the Kingdom of God and Indigenous Peoples as heirs of this so-called Promised Land.
I explore this by analyzing two murals in the Manti, Utah temple, which was completed in 1888. The Timanogos land this temple occupies was at the center of both the Wakara & the Black Hawk wars (which are really one war started by Mormon colonizers).
Minerva Teichert's “World Room" mural (1947)
The first mural (1947) is by Minerva Teichert and covers the walls of the “World Room.”
This “mural shows the history of the world.” One wall “generally follows the history of the gentiles; one can see crusaders, monarchs, explorers, and the poor and destitute." On the opposite wall “is the history of Israel, with paintings of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Pilgrims."
The south wall holds the story of Israel in four stories. First, Abraham, Sarai, and Lot entering Canaan, symbolic of the Abrahamic covenant and the beginning of Israel. Next, Joseph sold into Egypt by his brothers. Then, Moses confronting the people of Israel who are worshiping a golden calf. Finally, the Pilgrims boarding the Mayflower which Minerva called "Israel...embarking to the West for the New World."
The Israel and Gentile walls meet on the West wall which symbolizes this continent. On the south corner, a Pilgrim. On the north, a trader. A "Native American" in a headdress stands between them in a Jesus-like open armed pose seeming to welcome these invaders. Above the Native figure is Mormon Zion depicted as a Utah settlement.
“Both of these histories meet…on the American Continent, where a Native American figure stands at the center. Above him… is a… a small city and a temple. The city represents Zion… It looks a lot like Manti.”
This mural illustrates well the way in which Mormonism’s anti/philosemitic supersessionism meets with their anti/philo-Indigenous settler-nativism.
Mormonism teaches that Indigenous peoples are descendants of white ancient-Israelis who migrated here in 600 AD and so-called America is the “Promised Land.” Thus this painting is illustrating the Mormon-specific mythology that the history of Israel (Old Testament) and the history of the gentiles (Christianity) will by fulfilled via the gathering of Israel (millenarianism) in a new Zion located in the stolen lands occupied and colonized by the United States.
C.C.A. Christensen's pair of paintings depicting “temple hill" (1889)
The second mural is a pair of paintings by C.C.A. Christensen depicting “temple hill" (1889).
“One shows the temple hill how it looked when pioneers first arrived in the (Sanpitch) Valley... The other shows the temple completed.”
In the second Timpanogos People are conspicuously displaced by the temple & figures wearing affluent Euro-settler styles of the era.
Timpanogos lost 90% of their people within the first 30 years of Mormon colonization, 40% from the Black Hawk War alone.
Mormons lost ~0.0017% of their population from the Black Hawk War.
Mormon population in Utah Territory tripled from 1850-1880.
“(Wakara) wished to keep the valley of the San Pete, and desired to leave the valley of Salt Lake, as he could not live in peace with the whites—but that the Whites had taken possession of this valley also… He said he had always wished to be friendly with the whites—but they seemed never to be satisfied—the Indians had moved time after time, and yet they could have no peace.”
- Wakara Statement, 1853
According to the Wikipedia page on “Manti, Utah”
“Manti (named after a Book of Mormon city) was one of the first communities settled in what was to become Utah. Chief (Wakara, a Timpanogos leader), invited Brigham Young to send pioneers to the area to teach his people the techniques of successful farming. In 1849, Young dispatched a company of about 225 settlers, consisting of several families, to the Sanpitch (now Sanpete) Valley.”
This may have been the case in 1849, but by 1853 Wakara told interpreter M.S. Martenas:
“He wished to keep the valley of the San Pete (Manti), and desired to leave the valley of Salt Lake, as he could not live in peace with the whites—but that the Whites had taken possession of this valley also—and the Indians were forced to leave their homes, or submit to the constant abuse of the whites. He said he had always wished to be friendly with the whites—but they seemed never to be satisfied—the Indians had moved time after time, and yet they could have no peace.”
But as wikipedia puts it: “Relations with the local Native Americans deteriorated rapidly, and the Walker War (first part of Black Hawk War soon ensued.) The war consisted primarily of various raids conducted by the Native Americans against Mormon outposts in Central and Southern Utah.”
This is fully false. From the beginning of the “Walker War” to year they set as the beginning of the “Black Hawk War” Mormons killed 187 Timpanogos persons and Timpanogos killed 41 Mormons. Also during this time Mormons killed about ~250 non-Mormon Euro-settlers at Mountain Meadows and blamed it on the Nuwu People.
Wikipedia goes on with its fiction:
“In 1865 Utah's Black Hawk War erupted when an incident between a Manti resident and a young chieftain exploded into open warfare between the Mormon settlers and the local Native Americans.” (This war started in 1848 when Mormons first began to occupy Timpanogos land against the wishes of the People. The war escalated in 1865 because Timpanogos began being forced onto reservation in 1864) “In the fall of 1867, Chief Black Hawk made peace with the settlers, but sporadic violence occurred until 1872, when federal troops intervened (finish forcing Timpanogos People onto the Uintah Reservation). Many Mormon settlers who fought and died in the wars are buried in the Manti Cemetery.” (Black Hawk's grave was robbed by Mormons in 1919 and his bones put on display at Temple Square for 60 years. His remains weren't reburied until 1996. "It took an act of Congress, the help of National Forest Service archeologist Charmain Thompson, and the humanitarian efforts of a boy scout Shane Armstrong to find and rebury the remains of Black Hawk at Spring Lake.”)
White supremacy in genealogy
Part 1 is about how Mormonism foundationally used genealogy to reify its white-supremacist doctrines which teach that Euro-Mormons—as the keepers of the keys of THE “One True Church,” and descendants of Ephraim’s tribe of Israel—are God’s Chosen Race and People.
Part 2 is about how this shows up in Mormon temple work, eternal families, & genealogy.
Part 3 is on the classist, femicidal violences of Mormon doctrine on Eternal Families, Polygyny, and Godhood.
Part 4 shares my personal experience with using genealogy in an anti-racist way.
Part 5 is on the ways antisemitism and anti-Indigeneity overlap in Mormonism
Part 6 builds on part 5 through a critical analysis of the art and history in the Manti temple and it's grounds.
Part 7 addresses the Baptisms for the Dead that Mormons did for Jews killed in the Holocaust along with Hitler and other Nazis.
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.