It is always the same, once again I don’t know how to feel. Every year Thanksgiving Day rolls around and I get excited to stuff my face with many of my favorite foods. But Thanksgiving has two stories, the one we tell and the one we don’t. The one taught in schools (the one we tell), isn’t the truth. But the truth, the story we don’t tell, is heartbreaking. Every Thanksgiving I mourn with the tribes who lost so many, who’s story was replaced with a prettier one. I don’t know how to feel, but I know I prefer truth, even when it is hard.
In trying to still enjoy a holiday with my husband and children I focus on celebrating survival. Many Native Americans lost their lives in the colonization of America, but many also survived. Many were forced to stop speaking their language, but new generations are trying to regain it. Many were forced to throw away and burn Native heirlooms and stop customs, yet this too is being revived and relearned. Survival and honoring heritage, this is something to celebrate.
Truth matters. If the church wants to know why so many are leaving Mormonism right now it is this. They have deceived the people, and actively hidden the truth. And just like the Native Americans, many are leaving and reclaiming their lives and their truth.
Truth, the truth is I once believed was that Native Americans caused their own genocide. I believed, as I was taught, that if they had lived righteously they would have kept their lands and freedom. That God would have protected them as promised in the Book of Mormon, if only they hadn’t become evil and turned away from God.
See Second Nephi Chapter 1
9 – Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
10 – But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
11 – Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.
12 – Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.
13 – O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.
My people were killed, forced to stop speaking their language, lost much of their land and customs, forced into boarding schools, etc, all because they deserved it. And the church speaks of honoring our Mormon pioneers and heritage. Heritage… it is one of the most painful subjects for me. Because I dishonored my heritage, I believed Mormonism, I believed the Native Americans had lost their lands as punishment from God. I believed my peoples customs were remnants of evil.
I did a Mormon Stories interview many months ago with John Dehlin. I was able to talk about the issues I had with my skin, but every time I tried to voice heritage issues I felt trapped. I couldn’t give voice to my pain. In the interview I expressed a struggle to read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end, how I would just bounce around in it reading only my favorite stories. Yet in the interview I couldn’t express how much pain and shame reading the book caused me. The shame that my people weren’t strong enough. The shame that they gave into evil and caused their own destruction. Even now I am overcome, but now the tears flooding my eyes are of disappointment in Mormonism, not shame of my Native American heritage.
Who is responsible for Lamanite Truth? I do not believe the leaders of the church are responsible and I will tell you why, they have not been honest in their dealings. They are not trustworthy to handle these things. So the responsibility lies with everyone else. Those willing to stand up and speak out, no matter the consequence. And yes, there are consequences. I am only one of many, let us unite this Thanksgiving Day and celebrate truth. Let us celebrate survival and heritage of the original inhabitants of the land. For not only those labeled “Lamanite” have been hurt by deception, but we all have. No matter what your background, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or orientation, We Are One.
We live, we die, and like the grass and trees, renew ourselves from the soft earth of the grave. Stones crumble and decay, faiths grow old and they are forgotten, but new beliefs are born. The faith of the villages is dust now… but it will grow again… like the trees.
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce (1840-1904)
- Smith, Joseph, Book of Mormon,. Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Web. 19 August, 2017.