Refugees Meet: The Mormons and Indians in Iowa

The story of the Mormons and the Indians in Iowa is an important chapter in the larger narrative of Mormon history during the early nineteenth century. In 1830, a small number of Mormons proclaimed to red men and white men alike that through divine intervention an ancient record had been revealed, telling about the past, present, and future condition of the American Indians. Six months after the birth of Mormonism, Church leaders sent missionaries from New York to the Indians to declare this important message, to urge them to accept the restoration of Christ’s ancient gospel, and to find a suitable location for a “New Jerusalem.” Although inspired by the dream of taking the restoration to the natives, the Mormons became preoccupied with the task of founding a Zion for the gathering of their converts. Initially, a temporary gathering place was founded with a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, while a permanent location was designated as the center stake of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. When attempts to establish Zion in Ohio and Missouri failed, the Saints fled to Illinois where they built a kingdom on the Mississippi with shops, farms, fine homes, and several villages. Across the river roamed Indian refugees—the Fox and Sac, and the Potawatomi. The Mormons were unaware when they settled along the banks of the Mississippi how in the near future their story would become interlaced with these native refugees in Iowa.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 21:4
Purchase this Issue

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY


PROVO, UT 84602, USA | 801-422-4636 | © 2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED