Tag Archives: North America

Three Messengers

Iroquois_6_Nations_map_c1720-by-RA-NonenmacherThe Seneca are one of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy. The six are: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca.

The Seneca lived in Western New York in what is known as the Finger Lakes area. The town of Palmyra sits in the center of Seneca land.

Handsome Lake (Sganyadai:yo) was a Seneca religious leader and prophet. He was born about 1735 near present-day Avon, New York. Not much is known about his parents. We do know that he was born into the Wolf clan of his mother and was later adopted into the Turtle clan.

Joseph Knew Iroquois_western_goodsAt the time of Handsome Lake’s birth, the Seneca nation was prosperous. Living in the Finger Lakes area, which has an abundance of lakes, rivers and streams, they were successful trappers and fur traders. They traded not only with other members of the Iroquois Confederacy, but also with the ever-growing influx of Europeans that was moving further and further inland.

In 1777 Handsome Lake was part of an Iroquois war council that met with the British concerning the revolutionaries battling Britain for independence. It was Handsome Lake’s opinion that the war was a family squabble between Europeans and of no concern to the Iroquois. However, in 1778 he went along with the decision of his people and fought along side the British against the revolutionaries.

After the war, and as retribution for Iroquois support of the British, American Major General John Sullivan led a campaign against the  Iroquois. It was his intent, “…to destroy everything that contributes to their support”.

Archeologist Arthur C. Parker wrote:

“Forty towns were obliterated, 60,000 bushels of corn destroyed, fruit orchards uprooted, girdled or chopped down, one containing 1500 trees. Ruin was spread like a blanket over the Iroquois country and their garden valley reduced to a desolate blighted and forsaken region dotted with blackened ruins. Hardly a food plant remained for the coming winter.” (Arthur C. Parker, Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants, 1919, page 20)

Cornplanter-by-F-Bartoli-1796The Iroquois began to fight back and destroyed many white villages. Cornplanter, being the Seneca War Chief, was summoned to Washington DC by George Washington. It was the desire of both men to end the fighting and to live peaceably.

As a result of this retribution, the Seneca people had suffered greatly, both temporally and emotionally.  Their once great nation fell into depression, alcoholism, and immorality.

By this time Handsome Lake was an alcoholic and in poor health. He realized he had wasted much of his life. Rather than being a spiritual leader and example to his people, he had fallen into disgrace. Preparing to die, he asked his daughter to send for his half brothers, Black Snake and Cornplanter. Laying on his cot, Handsome Lake pleaded with the Great Spirit to let him die.

Handsome-Lake-largerWhile working in the back of the lodge, his daughter heard someone shout “Niio” (alright or so be it). When she went to find out what was happening, she found her father lying on the ground near the door of the lodge. He appeared to be dead. When his half brothers arrived, Cornplanter found warm spots on the body and decided to postpone the burial.

The next day, Handsome Lake still appeared to be dead. At midday he woke and sat up. He related a vision he had had while presumed dead.

“Some voice from without said, ‘Come forth’. I hesitated, first thinking that I was speaking to myself. But after it was repeated three times, I arose to investigate. I, with much difficulty, got to the door of my lodge where I saw standing before me three looking alike, all dressed in clean white raiment, standing in clear swept space. Never before have I seen such handsome, commanding men. They held in their hands branches from bushes bearing berries of different colors.”

The men told Handsome Lake that He who created the world in the beginning  sent them.  He sent them to visit Handsome Lake because “He is grateful for my creations, furthermore, he wishes to rise from sickness and walk again upon the earth. Go down and help him to recover.”

The men told him “Take of these berries and eat of every color. They will give you strength: then come with us.”

The men then took him on a journey where he saw many of his people. He saw their sins and sufferings. After that first visit, they visited him many times and gave him instructions for the people. Handsome Lake became a great religious leader to his people. When the three messengers visited him, he then imparted the message fearlessly to his people. The religion he established among his people was called Gai’wiio meaning The Good Message or New Gospel. 

Who were these three messengers? Could they have been earlier inhabitants of North America?

In the Book of Mormon, in the book of 3 Nephi, Christ called and ordained twelve Nephite disciples. When asked what they desired, nine of them asked to live to an old age and then to be taken quickly into Christ’s presence. The other three asked to remain on earth until Christ’s second coming. They were granted that request.

3 Nephi, Chapter 28

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Image Credit:

Painting Handsome Lake and the Three Messengers by Ernie Smith, from the Collections of the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, NY.

Iroquois Nation Map — R.A. Nonenmacher, wikimedia commons

Iroquois Trading with Europeans — Public Domain

Seneca War Chief Cornplanter — F. Bartoli (1796)

Ancient Cities of the Mississippi Valley

As European settlers in North America moved westward they came across more and more curious looking earthworks. Some were simply man-made mounds, some detailed effigies and some were the remnants of great cities.

Between 1845 and 1847 two men traveled through much of the Mississippi Valley surveying and documenting many of these earthworks. Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis recorded their findings in a publication called “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”.

For students of the Book of Mormon, one of their findings is of particular interest. On a site called the East Fork Works (Sometimes called “Gridiron” or “Hebrew Works”) in Clermont County, Ohio, Squire and Davis found the remains of a large complex or city laid out in a very particular manner.

Hebrew-works-framed

This “Gridiron” (on the right in the above image) was laid out as a walled city with detailed formations. As you can see in the over-lay below, one section of the city was laid out in the shape of a menorah.

Above the menorah section of the city, we can see a Jewish clay lamp.

Hebrew-works-lamp-framed

Also visible in the design and construction of the city are two ancient and important symbols, the compass and the square.

Hebrew-works-Sq-Compass-Framed

The Hopewell culture, of which this city is a part, dates from 100 B.C. to 600 A.D. Many of their structures and the artifacts found in and around them indicate there was a strong Hebrew influence. This Hebrew culture such as we find in the East Fork site can be explained in the Book of Mormon. A group left Israel in 600 B.C., traveled across the ocean, landed in North America, formed governments, built cities, and about 70 B.C. built, in a particular manner, the great City of Lehi.

“And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites.

“And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah.

“And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore.” (The Book of Mormon, Alma 50:13-15 – emphasis added)

Whether the city found in Clermont County, Ohio is the City of Lehi, or just another Hopewell city, the Hebrew influence is clear. Combined with evidence from other sites throughout North America, the East Fork site confirms that the early inhabitants of this continent were sophisticated, educated, and religiously devoted.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

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Additional information:

They Wrote the Book – Evidence of the Book of Mormon in North America from those that lived it.

Zelph’s Mound – He served under the Prophet Onandagus.

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Images in the article are from the Squire and Davis book “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”, plate XXXIV, page 95.

The Menorah added in over-lay is from: wikimedia commons.

The oil lamp added in over-lay is from MormonMediaNetwork.com