Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept 21: Book of Mormon, Chief Joseph

According to the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) , on this day in 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to seventeen-year-old Joseph Smith. (The angel is sometimes specified as a “resurrected being.”) Moroni told Joseph that he had been chosen to restore God’s church as it was meant to be on earth. Four years later, Joseph said, he retrieved a set of golden plates from a hiding place near Palmyra, New York. From these plates Smith transcribed history and teachings about ancient American inhabitants and their prophets. These writings became the Book of Mormon, which guided the formation of the LDS church.

Mormon settlers largely originating in Utah played a significant role in colonizing southeast Idaho, and the Church is still very strong in the region.

This was also the day on which Nez Perce Chief Joseph (“Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt”  or “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain,” in the native tongue) died, in 1904. Army threats to forcibly move his and other bands to the reservation in Idaho sparked the Nez Perce War, in June 1877. Ultimately, even their attempt to escape into Canada failed. Yet their story is now the stuff of real-life, tragic melodrama.

Part of the legend lies in the words attributed to Chief Joseph when they finally surrendered. The speech stated baldly, “It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.” The closing is especially eloquent and affecting: “I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

References: [Brit]


  1. There's a lot of irony in the fact that this saf post about Chief Joseph comes just after the description of the friendly welcome the Nez Perce gave L&C.

  2. There is, isn't there? No ... it was not on purpose, but I'm not upset it turned out that way.