On April 28, 2000 I received a very interesting e-mail relating to my Book of Mormon web pages, in particular the one About Lehi and the Child or El Nino. My 'handle' on the Internet is 'hunter' thus the writer of the e-mail calls me hunter. The e-mail follows:
My name is _____ and I was searching for something on the Isthmus of Darien and fell upon your website on the El Nino. Very interesting. I was doing my geneology and in some of my research came upon a statement made where my forefather, who was an Indian in Alabama, made the statement that his ancestors came over from Asia and landed upon the Isthmus of Darien. Iwas trying to find a map to locate just where that might be when I came upon your page.
I am LDS and I can't tell you how exciting this is. It's like a puzzle coming together. I was always under the impression that Lehi had landed on the coast of Peru. This ancestor of mine had made this comment in 1822, before the prophet Joseph had even received the golden plates for translation.
Anyway I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this opinion. I am in the process of writing my family history pertaining to the Indians and this really helps me.
Again thank you.
Now Indian Legend is much the same as the folklore and legends of any people. Much is to be attributed to contrived stories, which delve in mysticism and the cult type of religious accounting for the unknown. It seems quite obvious when the legends describe things that are not really true such as under worlds and things of an obvious supernatural nature, which do not fit into the realm of truth and true religion. Yet often, verbal histories, legends and folklore can breath of truth, and while perhaps not totally true in every facet in their handed down form, there is much truth to them. It becomes an evaluation process of selecting what fits reality, common sense, and truth, and what does not.
In Big Warrior's statement as to the arrival of his people to the Americas, truth clingeth to truth. From my understanding, knowledge, and background, this statement of the American Indianís origin is precisely true. The Asia of which is spoken is that of the area more known as ĎAsia Minorí by us today, but is very much referred to by the ancient historians as Asia. It is the middle east, from Jerusalem from whence the American Indians come. And they sailed and landed upon the Isthmus of Darien or a little south thereof. There is the truth of the matter stated by an Indian of Alabama in 1822 and also stated by a Prophet of God, Joseph Smith in 1842. The exact references are as follows:
"...Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,..." (Joseph Smith. "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 267; Times & Seasons, 15 September 1842, 3:921-922.)
"In 1822, Big Warrior (a Muscogee Indian), who then ruled the Creek confederacy, confirmed this tradition, even going further back than Milfort, taking the Muscogees from Asia, bringing them over the Pacific, landing them near the Isthmus of Darien, and conducting them from thence to this country." (Chapter 3 - The Modern Indians of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Albert James Pickett: History of Alabama - Note: This text can currently be found on the Internet as linked.)
'Milfort' was a prior historian who had extracted from the Muscogee that they had come from the land of Mexico years before in the days when the Spanish had conquered the Indian. Big Warrior's people came and in turn took the lands of the Mississippi for the tribes who were there before them.
It is assumed that these are two independent statements that support the same identical landing site and origin of the American Indians. One is the voice of the actual people telling from whence they came and the other is a Prophet of God prophesying from whence the people came. To some it might be a testament that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. Yet what if Joseph Smith was aware of such Indian Legend prior to making his statement? Does that make it a hoax? Critics might suggest such. But to those of us who know Joseph Smith to be a Prophet of God from the confirming source of the Spirit of God it should not matter.
If the Prophet of God heard this Legend from the Indian, then the 'Legend' of the origin of the Indian becomes consummated as being true by the voice of a Prophet of God. In either case, the two statements support and confirm each other. Further, one must also consider that a second Prophet of God and a third person is adding his support for the authenticity of this stated landing site of Lehi. When Joseph Fielding Smith compiled the book he called 'The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,' then Joseph Fielding Smith was adding his word that he considers this particular statement found in the Times and Season as having come from Joseph Smith himself, and not from a secondary editor. Often some Book of Mormon Scholars do not accept the Isthmus of Darien as Lehi's Landing site. They discount the idea that Joseph Smith was the actual originator of the statement. In my mind, they are then placing their such stated opinion above that of the written word of Joseph Fielding Smith. This I cannot do.
- Don R. Hender (June 8, 2000)