Category Archives: Adena Cultrue

What We Know . . . So Far

As far as we can tell, no one has yet been able to prove that something does not, or did not exist. Yet, that is often an argument used by anti-Mormons in their attempt to disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Years ago the idea that there are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon was proof the book was a fabrication. But now it’s becoming more and more accepted that there were elephants roaming the promised land. Skeptics have had to shift their attention to the mention of horses in the Book of Mormon. And now the argument that horses were not in North America before the Spanish arrived is springing leaks.

When the Winter Olympic games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter if he had a comment about DNA research that seemed to disprove the Book of Mormon. He simply responded that all the information wasn’t in yet. Today DNA is proving a connection between the Middle East and Native Americans.

For decades the big bang theory has been the accepted origin of our universe. Now physicists in Egypt and Canada have made a strong argument that there was no beginning to the universe. It has always existed. This is just another example of a faith-based belief that has been scoffed at by science, and is now becoming self-evident.

More and more, theories placing Book of Mormon events in Mesoamerica and South America are giving way to the heartland of America as Book of Mormon lands. Geographic evidences that have become overgrown by forests, or deliberately destroyed, are coming to light and are being connected to people and places of the Book of Mormon.

Although, as President Hinckley said, not all of the evidence is in yet, a lot of evidence is in, and that evidence is confirming what early church leaders knew, the Heartland of America is the land of the Book of Mormon.

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Battles in Cumorahland

The Book of Mormon tells of many battles, but none fiercer than those fought in Cumorahland. The Jaredite nation was destroyed near the hill Ramah and approximately 1,000 years later the Nephites were slaughtered near that same hill, then called Cumorah.

We have already established in earlier articles that the hill at Palmyra, NY that we call Cumorah is that same hill from the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Knew Great Lakes Area map - Covens & Mortimier 1757
Cumorahland — Western New York

Is There Evidence of Great Battles Near the Hill Cumorah?

The Great Lakes area of the United States is covered in ruins that match the cities and fortresses of Cumorahland described in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately many of those ruins have been destroyed or covered over in the last 200 years

In a lecture before the New York Historical Society in 1831, Governor DeWitt Clinton said:

NY Governor DeWitt Clinton

“I have seen several of these works in the western part of this state. There is a large one in the town of Onondaga, one in Pompey, and another in Manlius; one in Camillus, eight miles from Auburn: one in Scipio, six miles, another one mile, and one about half a mile from that village. Between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes there are several—three within a few miles of each other. Near the village of Canandaigua there are three. In a word, they are scattered all over that county.”

As we have discussed in an earlier post, common attitudes of the 18th and 19th centuries labeled Native Americans as backward, savages and therefore not the descendants of the people who had created such great civilizations. One of the things Joseph Smith knew was that the Native Americans were not savages and they were the descendants of that great society.

The descriptions of fortresses in the book of Alma bear striking similarities to those found in the Great Lakes area.

Governor Clinton described:

Joseph Knew -- Alma 48 8“These forts were, generally speaking, erected on the most commanding ground. The walls or breastworks were earthen. The ditches were on the exterior of works. [ ] The trenches were in some cases deep and wide, and in others shallow and narrow; and the breastworks varied in altitude from three to eight feet. They sometimes had one, and sometimes two entrances, as was to be inferred from there being no ditch at those places. When the works were protected by a deep ravine or a large stream of water no ditch was to be seen. The areas of these forts varied from two to six acres; and the form was generally an irregular elipsis; and in some of them fragments of earthenware and pulverized substances, supposed to have been originally human bones, were to be found. [ ]

“These numerous works could never have been supplied with provisions without the aid of agriculture. Nor could they have been constructed without the use of iron or copper, and without perseverance, labour, and design which demonstrate considerable progress in the arts of civilized life.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, pages 20-21)

It’s interesting that even though the idea that an ancient Mediterranean people inhabited the great lakes area was a common school of thought in the 1800s, when Joseph Smith presented a reasonable and logical explanation in the Book of Mormon, he was labeled a liar and a fraud. Ten years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, long after Joseph and the other saints had left New York, a newspaper, the New York Star, scolded people for scoffing.

Joseph Knew Mormon Media Network Final Battle near Buffalo NY
Battlefield Near Buffalo, NY

“We must, as a nation, relinquish our believing propensities, our uniform practices of doubting everything which we cannot exactly comprehend, and believing everything to be a hoax or a humbug, and prepare ourselves by a proper study and discipline of mind to know and to believe that this New World, [ ] was settled by the descendants of Peleg . . .

“Let our people know that the red men spread over this continent are the descendants of what was called the lost tribes, who bear, at this day, the proofs in their religion, language and ceremonies, of their early origin. So far, all is conjecture; but these discoveries will in time ripen into fixed and positive evidence.”  (The New York Star, July 11, 1840)

In his 1850 book, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, Orsamus Turner  wrote extensively about the ancient people that preceded the 19th century Europeans living in America.

“We are surrounded by evidences that a race preceded them [the Europeans], farther advanced in civilization and the arts, and far more numerous. Here and there upon the brows of our hills, at the head of our ravines, are their fortifications; their locations selected with skill, adapted to refuge, subsistence and defense.” (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. 1850, page 18)

The Finger Lakes — Upstate New York

The area we call Cumorahland is a land full of evidence of fortresses, great battles and mass destruction. Again for his book, Turner records:

“Although not peculiar to this region, there is perhaps no portion of the United States where ancient relics are more numerous. Commencing principally near the Oswego River, they extend westwardly over all the western counties of our State.” (Ibid, page 19)

“We are prone to speak of ourselves as the inhabitants of a new world; and yet we are confronted with such evidences of antiquity! We clear away the forests and speak familiarly of subduing a ‘virgin soil’;—and yet the plough up-turns the skulls of those whose history is lost ! We say that Columbus discovered a new world. Why not that he helped to make two old ones acquainted with each other.” (Ibid, pages 18 and 19)

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DNA and the Book of Mormon

Joseph-Knew-Hollowhorn-Bear--by-Edward-Curtis-1907NATIVE AMERICAN ANCESTRY

Over the past several years there has been a lot of debate over DNA and the Book of Mormon. Anti-Mormon groups claim that a lack of DNA evidence connecting the people of South and Central America to the Middle East is proof that the Book of Mormon is not a true record of Jewish people in the new world.

There are two major problems with this DNA argument. First, it assumes that Mesoamerica is the land of the Book of Mormon. Second, it assumes that DNA studies done 15 years ago or longer are the final word on Native American ancestry.


When the Winter Olympic games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter if he had a comment about the DNA Book of Mormon question. He simply responded that all the information wasn’t in yet.

Eleven years later, in 2013, National Geographic Magazine published an article titled “Great Surprise” – Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins.

In his article, reporter Brian Handwerk reported: “Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.”

Joseph-Knew---Baring-Strait-map-byJ.-Bayly-1784-Before this new DNA evidence, the prevailing theory proposed that Native American ancestors came to North America from Asia across the Bering Strait some 16,000 years ago. That theory may very well hold water, but it doesn’t mean that crossing the Bering Strait was the only way people came to North America. We sometimes jump to false conclusions or make erroneous assumptions because we see known facts as the only facts. We sometimes assume that if we have this, then we cannot have that. If it is a fact that today’s Native Americans have ancestors that came from Asia, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have ancestors and DNA from another area as well. According to the genome study’s co-author Eske Willerslev, “This study changes this idea because it shows that a significant minority of Native American ancestry actually derives not from East Asia but from a people related to present-day western Eurasians.” (Great Surprise – Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins, Brian Handwerk, National Geographic Magazine, November 22, 2013)


We know that Native Americans have a DNA connection to East Asia, but a nagging question has always been there. Why don’t contemporary Asian populations closely resemble Native Americans? Professor Willersley’s response to this question is: “It’s not like you can say that they [Native Americans] are really closely related to Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans, so there seems to be something missing. But this result makes a lot of sense regarding why they don’t fit so well genetically with contemporary East Asians—because one-third of their genome is derived from another population. Maybe, if he looks like something else, it’s because a third of his ancestry isn’t coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians.”

Some scholars who want to hold onto the Bering Strait theory as the only answer for Native American ancestors arriving in North America are proposing that the Middle Eastern DNA was mixed with Asian DNA while still in the old world. While that is a reasonable hypothesis, the Book of Mormon presents another possibility.

The Book of Mormon tells of three groups of people who came to the Promised Land from West Eurasia.

  1. The Jaredites left Babel (modern day Iraq) sometime around 2,200 BC.
  2. The people of Zarahemla, commonly called the Mulekites, came out of Israel sometime around 700 – 600 BC.
  3. Lehi, father of the Nephites and the Lamamnites, left Jerusalem with his people in 600 BC.

When we combine Book of Mormon history with evidence of Jewish rituals and Hebrew artifacts found in North America, the Book of Mormon can answer the question of where this newly discovered DNA connection came from.

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DVD front JPG for other usesA new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes) 

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.


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Image credits:

DNA Strand –, cherezoff

Sketch of effigy pipes – Squier and Davis

Hollowhorn Bear – by Edward Curtis, 1907

Bering Strait map – J. Bayly, 1784

Indian Head Nickel – Wikimedia commons, Bobby131313

The Adena Culture — Were They the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon?

Joseph-Knew---Adena-Mound---by-Morguefile-cochiseIn a previous article we discussed the Hopewell Culture. The time frame for this people is believed to run from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D., the same time period as the Nephites.

In and around many Hopewell sites there is evidence of another group that existed much earlier. The Adena culture thrived from 1000 to 200 B.C. Many archeologists date the culture even further back to 3000 B.C. and extend the end of the Adena period to 100 A.D. However, most agree they were prominent from 1000 to 200 B.C.

Where did they live?

The greatest evidence of the Adena can be found in the Ohio Valley area, but they were spread eastward through Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvanian, and Virginia.

“The evidences of the presence of this ancient people are found almost everywhere upon the North American Continent, except, perhaps, upon the Atlantic coast. They consist of mounds sometimes of imposing size and other earthworks, so numerous that in Ohio alone there are, or were till quite recently, estimated to be not less than ten thousand of the Mounds, and fifteen hundred enclosures of earth and stone all evidently the work of the same people. In other parts of the country they were found in such numbers that no attempt has ever been made to count them all.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 20)

Mound builders

Josephg-Knew-Effigy-MoundsLike the Hopewell, the Adena were mound builders. One difference between Hopewell mounds and Adena mounds is Adena mounds were cone shaped and Hopewell were either rounded or plateaued. Another striking difference is the Adena built large effigy mounds. These mounds varied in size, shape, design and purpose. The Adena built some in the shape of birds, some animals or reptiles and some in the shape of people. Some mounds are even built to represent inanimate objects such as tools or weapons.

Joseph-Knew-Great-Serpent-Mound-photo-by-Eric-EwingOne of the most famous of these mounds or earthworks is the Great Serpent Mound along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. It is a 5 foot high, 1,348 foot long serpent effigy that winds like a snake through the bushes and trees.

Joseph-Knew-Elephant-Effigy-Mound” . . . the figures are varied enough and distinct enough, to show that they were meant to be the effigies of perhaps every quadruped then known in the country, of birds with outstretched wings, of fishes with fins extended, of reptiles, of man; and of inanimate things, the war-club, the bow and arrow, the pipe, the cross, the crescent, the circle, and other mathematical forms. They rise above the surface two, four, sometimes six feet in height ; the animal figures vary from ninety to one hundred and twenty feet in length. but there are rectangular embankments, only a few feet in height and width, that stretch out to a length of several hundred feet. Among all these representations of animals there is no one more remarkable than that recently described, called the Big Elephant Mound, found in Wisconsin a few miles below the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Its name indicates its form; its length is one hundred and thirty-five feet, and its other proportions are in accordance with that measurement. It does not seem probable that the people who piled up these mysterious earthworks could represent a mastodon or elephant if it were not a living creature with which they were familiar.” (William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay and Noah Brooks, Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1, 1896, page 22)

Many critics of the Book of Mormon site the ninth chapter of Ether as proof of Joseph Smith’s lack of understanding of ancient North American history. In the nineteenth verse of that chapter it reads:

“And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” (Book of Mormon, Ether 9:19, emphasis added)

Critics scoff at the idea that there were elephants in North America. However, when we look at such ancient effigies as those reported above, it appears there are two possibilities. Joseph Smith had an exceptional  understanding of ancient North America, greater than any other scholar in his day, or the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient American text which he translated . . . or both.

 Who were the Adena?

As mentioned earlier, scholars place the Adena time frame at 1000 to 200 B.C.  (Some scholars put it as early as 3000 B.C.)

The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon left the old world at or around the time of the tower of Babel. Although we don’t know exactly when that was, it is generally agreed that it was around 2200 – 1900 B.C. This makes the Jaredites strong contenders to be the Adena.

What happened to the Adena?

Many historians believe the Adena culture died out as a culture, but not as a people. It’s believed that the Adena are the same people who we have named the Hopewell. The culture changed in the type of structures they built and the art they created, but they were genetically the same group of people.

What we do know about the Adena is that they, like the Hopewell, were a highly advanced, civilized people. They were a religious people. They planted crops, hunted game and traded with others. They had great respect for their dead and many of their mounds were burial sites for the dead.

There are a lot of things that suggest the Adena were the Jaredites, but the biggest obstacle to making such an emphatic statement is the fact that we don’t have definite dates on when the Jaredites arrived in North America or when that final battle took place that wiped them out. If they were the Jaredites of the Book of Mormon, then they died out not only as a culture, but also as a people. (see Ether chapter 15)

Whether the Adena were the Jadeites or not, the things they left behind give us great insight into the lives of Book of Mormon people in North America before the birth of Christ.

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Read more about ancient burial sites in these two articles; Giants in the Land and Ancient Burial Sites of New York.

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Image credits:

Various effigy mounds and elephant effigy mound from Scriber’s Popular History of the United States Volume 1

Serpent Mound by: Eric Ewing, wikimedia commons.