Date of Award
"They felt that the Indians had to become civilized according to non-Indian standards. They did not know or understand the Indians' way of life nor did they want to."
-Idaho Indians: Tribal Histories
This quote refers to the United States government, but it could have also referred to many nineteenth-century members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). This religion, centered in Salt Lake City, Utah, was one of the faiths that most influenced the Native Americans in the western United States. The LDS settlers and Native Americans had an unusual relationship - one that was very different from other white/red relationships of the nineteenth century. The myth, passed down through generations of LDS Saints, is that the pioneers and the Native Americans thought of each other as friends. Yet, in the decades of 1850-1870, they clashed in several violent wars. The obvious question, as Utah historian William Z. Terry asks, is "Why should there have been any Indian wars in Utah, considering the fact that the settlers considered themselves as friends of the Indians, and the Indians considered the Mormons as their friends, even distinguishing between Mormons and other white men by the use of the words: Mormonee and Mericats?" (104). By analyzing the nineteenth-century poems, songs, and narratives written by the settlers, it becomes apparent that the myth of a friendly pioneer/native relationship was not always true because LDS settlers did not fully believe in the ideology of their president, Brigham Young.
West, Richard Edward, "Friends or Foes? How 19th Century LDS Literature Supported Manifest Destiny" (2002). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 841.
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Departmental Honors Advisor