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Chapter 20: White Indians.

Before the Mormons came into these mountains, they were known as friends of the Red men, and were called in mockery the White Indians. They professed to have solved the mystery, so puzzling to linguists and ethnologists, of the origin of the Indian tribes. On evidence supplied to them by angels, they asserted that the Red men are sons of Laman, remnants of the lost tribes of Israel, and objects of God's pecular care. Giving the Indians a great place in history, the Mormons stamped them as a people who will rise again and make a glorious figure in the world. They professed to have copies of ancient Indian books. A history of these Indians was their holy scripture, and they preached a religion racy of the Indian soil, in which Redskin chiefs and prophets were to play a part.

Missions had been sent out to these lost tribes [194] and families; missions of the First Witness and of the First Apostle. A revelation had been published, announcing that Zion would be built in the land of the Lamanites. To seal this family compact with the Indians, another revelation declared that in the great day of the Lord, the Lamanites were to blossom as the rose, Zion to flourish on the hills, and both the ancient tribes and the modern saints were to assemble in an “appointed place.” What marvel, then, that ever since the Mormons crossed into Big Elk's country, they have been received as friends, that the Pottawattamies gave them the free use of their soil, that the Sioux allowed them to pass the Platte River, that the Shoshones let them cut down timber, that the Utes assisted them to bring water from the mountain creeks?

For good and ill, the hunters and the saints live as neighbours and brethren; leaning on each other for support against a common foe. Utes and Shoshones have been baptised. Others are content with living on Mormon principles. Not a few Mormon missionaries have taken squaws into their tents. In certain deeds of violence, such as the [195] Mountain Meadow massacre, and the alleged murders by Rockwell and his Danite band, the Red and White Indians have been very closely mixed. Four or five commissions have sat on the Mountain Meadow massacre, yet no one can say whether Kanosh, the Ute chief, or Colonel Dame, the Mormon bishop, was the man most to blame. All witnesses in the case describe the slayers as “Indians,” or as “painted like Indians,” or as “ dressed like Indians.” Kanosh was a Mormon elder; and there is something of the Ute in Colonel Dame.

Nine years ago I wrote of these saints:

“ Hints for their system of government may have been found nearer home than Hauran, in less respectable quarters than the Bible; the Shoshone wigwam could have supplied the Saints with a nearer model of a plural household than the patriarch's tent. . . . The saints go much beyond Abram; and I for one am inclined to think that they have found their type of domestic life in the Indian wigwam rather than in the patriarch's tent. Like the Ute, a Mormon may have as many wives as he can feed, like the Mandan he may marry [196] three or four sisters, an aunt and her niece, a mother and her child.”

Big Elk and Pied Riche saw in Brigham Young, what Red Cloud and Black Hawk still see — a White brother, whose big chief and medicine man, Joseph Smith, was shot in Illinois for asserting that the Red-skins are of sacred race, no less than for preaching the Red doctrines of common property and plurality of wives. Brigham Young, on the other side, regards the Red-skins, like his leader Joseph Smith, as a peculiar people, chosen though chastised, and holding in their custody, not knowing what they hold, ancient and celestial traditions. Some of these old and sacred traditions existed among the Indians of Vermont and New York, in which countries Joseph Smith resided in his youth, as well as in the prairies of Illinois, where his system put on its final shape. These Indians held their lands in common, kept as many squaws as they could louse, and sought for blood atonements in their feuds. Smith tried to introduce these principles of the “ sacred race,” as well as to diffuse a knowledge of their personal god, their government by seers, their cure of maladies by spells and charms. He failed [197] on the domestic side. Even in his house, a Gentile feeling burned against the introduction of second wives; and sisters who pretend to have been the sealed spouses of Joseph, own that they had to undergo the rite in secret, and accept their wifehood in a mystic sense. But when the saints arrived in Utah, where, surrounded by the Indian wigwams, they were free to carry out their principles, they proclaimed the Indian doctrine of plurality of wives. Were they not gathered into Zion? Were not the sons of Laman living in the Valley, each with his two or three squaws, according to the ancient and celestial rule?

“ That day,” I wrote in New America, “ the Red men and the White men made with each other an unwritten covenant, for the Shoshone had at length found a brother in the Pale-face, and the Pawnee saw the morals of his wigwam carried into the Saxon's ranch.”

Ute incest came to the Saints with Ute polygamy. An Indian likes to buy two or three sisters, finding they work well and hold their tongues, where strangers to each other might shirk their tasks and wrangle in his tent. A Mormon does the same. A [198] man who dares to marry three or four wives, is not likely to feel scruples about affinities of blood. Sealing to sisters soon became a habit of the Saints, not introduced by revelation like celestial marriage. but adopted here and there by mere contagion from the Indian lodges, till the cases grew in number and the facts became a law. To legalise this system of plurality and incest strains the utmost power of Brigham Young.

Are plural families increasing in your Church? I ask Apostle Taylor, as we wander in and out among the Temple shafts and passages, noting how slow and solid is the growth of that edifice which is to be completed, in the strength of prophecy, when the Lamanites shall have come to blossom as a rose!

“Increasing surely, though not fast.”

My evidence of eye and ear is out of harmony with that of the Apostle. Things are changed in Zion; changed in many ways, from dress and manner upwards into modes of thought. In other times, the Church was all in all. Brigham was king and pope; the Twelve were princes of the blood. A bishop was a peer. Not to be an elder was to live outside the court. A Gentile was of less account in Main Street [199] than a Sioux or Snake, who kept, although in darkness, some traditions of a sacred code.

A railway train has done it all.

The change in Zion, since the railway opened, is like that from Santa Clara under the Franciscan friars to that of Denver under Bob Wilson and the young Norse gods. Much evil pours into the town, as well as good; the sharper and his female partner coming with the teacher and divine; the people who open hells and grogshops treading on the heels of those who open colleges and schools. Everyone is free to come. As yet, the Saints retain possession of the real estate; no less than seven-eighths of the city, nineteen-twentieths of the territory, says Daniel Wells, mayor of the city, still belonging to the Saints. Yet every one must see that a Gentile feeling, hostile to the Mormon theory of domestic life, begins to reign in store and street, in mart and bank. A Gentile banker may not seem so great a personage as a Mormon bishop, yet this bishop's daughters cannot be prevented from turning their eyes in female envy on that banker's wife. The Gentile lady is more richly dight than any other woman at Salt Lake. The Mormon ladies wish to [200] dress like her. Riches are entering into strife with grace, and fashion is pushing sanctity to the wall.

In other days plurality was a rage. You heard of nothing else. Ladies affected to be smitten by the spell, and boasted of bringing in new Hagars to their lords. To have a plural household was a sign of perfect faith and walking in the highest light. To be a member of the Church, and yet refrain from sealing wife on wife, was a discredit to the priesthood; and an elder so remiss in duty was unable to get on. That rage in favour of plurality is past. Some leaders have renounced the practice, others have denounced the dogma, of polygamy. Elder Jennings is living with a single wife; Stenhouse, Elder no longer, is living with a single wife.

“Why should not plural families increase?” asks Taylor, in a tone which begs the whole question of fact and theory, “ this increase is the will of heaven. We have to live our faith out openly before the world, and all good Saints are striving to obey the will of God.”

“Yet, Elder, I observe that some of my old acquaintance seem falling into Gentile ways. There's Jennings. When I first knew him he had two [201] wives, and people told me he was likely to seal two more at least. I find him living with a single wife. One lady is dead, but he has not taken a sister into her place.”

We supped last night with Elder Jennings at his new villa, where we saw his wife and daughters. Being a wealthy man, Jennings has been urged to seal a third and fourth sister to himself, according to the will of heaven; but he has held aloof from “counsel” in this matter, and in face of bishops and pontiffs, anxious for his good, he steadily refuses to add wife on wife. A man of business, dealing with men of every class and creed, Jennings has been carried into something like silent opposition to his Church. He will not bring, he says, another woman to his house. His living partner seems to me the happiest Mormon woman in the town.

“Well, in the city, you may note such cases,” says the Apostle, putting my case aside, with what appears to me a weary shrug. “ A Gentile influence has been creeping in, no doubt; and business people are the first to see things in a worldly light; but on the country farms and in the lonely sheep-runs you will find a pastoral people, eager to fulfil the [202] law as it is given to us, and to enjoy the blessings offered by God to his obedient Saints.”

Taylor is no doubt right. The system of White polygamy, which droops and fades in presence of the Gentiles, springs and spreads in presence of the Snakes and Utes — a fact of facts: the full significance of which is hardly seen by Taylor and his brother Saints.

No sooner was the railway built, the valley opened, and the stranger admitted, than a change of view set in. Some elders, including Godbe, Walker, Harrison, and Lawrence, began a new movement, favouring liberty of trade and leading up towards liberty of thought. They tried to bring in science, and to found a critical magazine. Stenhouse was of their party, though he had not yet seceded from his Church. Belief in polygamy as a divine institution was the first thing to go down. On turning to the original seer, these critics found good reason to conclude that plurality was one of the additions made by Brigham Young to the gospel taught by Joseph Smith. Smith had only one wife. That lady, still alive, asserts that neither in public nor in private was the prophet ever sealed or [203] given to any other woman than herself. The prophet's sons denounce the doctrine of polygamy as the spawn of hell. These were no pleasant things for Godbe to discern. This elder, a chemist, lived in a fine house, with three wives, and had a garden full of boys and girls. How, under his new lights, was he to deal with his domestic facts? The women were his wives, the children were his flesh and blood. The past was past, for good and evil. But the future? If polygamy were not divine, he must not seal another wife so long as any of the three women in his household were left alive. The same conclusion has been forced on many others.

“Do you wish me to infer,” I ask Apostle Taylor, “that the rich and educated Mormons are giving up polygamy, and that the poor and ignorant brethren are taking to it?”

“No,” he answers me with meek reproof, “we should not like to put the matter so. Some worldly men are weary of obedience to the law; while others, pure in heart and true in faith, are ready to assume their cross.”

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