The Book of Mormon is more than a history book of the ancient Nephite and Jaredite nations. It provides a testimony of the visit of Jesus Christ to the promised land of America after his death and resurrection. Thus the lands the Savior walked in the New World is just as sacred as those he walked in the Old World.
In his book, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 316, the Prophet, Spencer W. Kimbal, cites 10 identifying characteristics of the promised land, namely, that it will be; 1- a land of liberty to its people. 2- They shall never be brought down into captivity. 3- There shall be none to molest them. 4- It is a land of promise. 5- It shall be free from bondage. 6- It shall be free from all nations under heaven. 7- There shall be no enemies come into this land. 8- There shall be no kings upon the land. 9-This land shall be fortified against all other nations. 10- He that fighteth against Zion shall perish.
Thus, how can we doubt that the promised land of the Book of Mormon is America. But the question still remains–where on the promised land did the saga played in the Book of Mormon take place? Gratefully, the archaeological record and the findings of numerous historians left clues behind that lead unavoidably to New York –the place of the only known landmark we have of that ancient time in history, the Hill Cumorah.
Relics of some lost race were found with nearly every turn of the spade in western New York during the early years of colonization. Thus, it was commonly accepted by scholars and laymen alike that an ancient civilization once occupied western New York long before the Indians became lords of the land.
The Historian, O. Turner, did not hesitate to consider all the fortified hills in western New York as having been erected by a race more civilized than the Indians and were exterminated by the inferior race who were still in possession of the country when early European colonist first discovered the land.
Just a year before the Book of Mormon came off the press, The Wayne Sentinel published a few lines of its own about the ancient race that once populated western New York, and their equally mysterious disappearance. It read:
There appears to be a gap in the history of the world, so far as relates to them, which can never be filled up; . . . we may picture them in our minds as a flourishing and mighty nation, possessing all the advantages and blessings of civil and religious liberty; powerful in wealth and natural resources; combining moral and political excellence; and seated upon the pinnacle of national prosperity and glory — and we may suppose that some dreadful plague, some natural calamity swept them from the face of the earth; or perhaps like Sodom and Gomorrah of old, their natural sins became so heinous, that the Almighty in his wrath utterly annihilated them; — but after all our own conjectures. . . Who they were and from whence they sprung; . . remains locked up in the womb of the past. (O. Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York., p.20).
The Nephite’s Land of First Inheritance
The short video shown below, shows the departure of the Nephites from Jerusalem, building a ship to take them across the Great Atlantic, and then making it inland into the promised land via Chesapeake Bay into what today is the state of Pennsylvania. As they began to explore the promised land they found it rich in all kinds of beasts and natural resources, including rich deposits of gold, copper, silver, and iron, just as noted in the Book of Mormon, a region they called the Land of Nephi, after Nephi.
Over the course of the next few hundred years, the Nephites spread from the Atlantic to Lake Erie. Unfortunately a power struggle ultimately caused a division in the family with those who followed the eldest brother Laman called Lamanites, and those who followed Nephi-called Nephites. Thus, the Lord told Nephi to take his young family and all those who would go with him and flee his wicked brothers.
Moving further northward took them into the pristine regions of southwestern New York in what the Nephites thus also called the land of Nephi after Nephi.
Unfortunately, in time the Lamanites found them and continued their attacks. Thus the Nephites moved even further northward into Zarahemla among the Mulekites who lived just to the north of them along the river Sidon (today’s Buffalo River), with a narrow strip of wilderness now separating the two people.
With the added strength of the Mulekites, this would then be home for the next five hundred years until their Lamanite brothers finally succeeded in totally destroying them around the Hill Cumorah in 385 A.D.
The Book of Mormon and the American Indians
Zarahemla, and the Royal Line of Mulek
The Nephites were not the only company of Israelites to live in the promised land. The Book of Mormon also speaks of the arrival of the Mulekites who also fled the land when Jerusalem was taken over by the Babylonians. Their migration to the promised land may well have ties to Zarah-Judah, the twin brother of Perez, the progenitor of Mulek.
We sometimes fail to remember that Judah and Tamar had two royal sons, i.e. Perez and Zarah—twins, from which two royal lines would emerge. The story of the birth of the twins is well known with one son named Zarah referred to as the son of the scarlet thread, for it was his little hand that emerged from the womb first. A scarlet threat was attached to his wrist to show his birthright as the first born of Judah. However in the process of birth, Zarah pulled his hand back in and Perez emerged first, not Zarah. Thus, a breach had taken place in the royal line and Perez was declared the rightful heir of the Royal House of David.
Genesis 38: 30: And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread on his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
While the line of Perez had claim to the royal scepter through which the Savior would later be born, both sons were Royal Princes. Thus, scholars believe that the twins were likely meant to rule jointly, with the tribe of Judah to provide the kings for the House of David, and Zarah to provide the kings of the other lands Israel was destined to settle, including, in part, Italy, Illyria, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Atlantic Isles, Mexico and America. The effect of both royal lines on world history cannot thus be understated. (Follow the fascinating story of Zarah-Judah and the lands they planted kings in my book, The Lost Sheep of Ancient America, CFI- Amazon.)
It may well be that it was a worthy descendant of Mulek’s Uncle Zarah’s line–one not then living among the Jews in Jerusalem, and thus still faithful to Jesus Christ who carried young Prince Mulek to the promised land, for a large number of Zarahites had long since left the main congregation of Israel and were settling lands far and wide. As to where they took him, the Book of Mormon makes it clear that they headed for the promised land.
The archeological record reveals the presence of a new people in lower Ontario and upper New York around 600 B. C. –a time line consistent with the arrival of the Mulekites. Archaeologists subsequently called them the Point Peninsula Culture after and island at the east end of Lake Ontario just to the north of New York. These would become the proto-Algonquians of more modern times, a people whose round, or brachycephalic, skull type is consistent with the Jews.
With the Great Lakes lying chiefly to the south of them, some went north, others east and west, and others dipped south into New York where they set up a port along Lake Erie near what today is Buffalo, New York.
The adjacent river was subsequently named the river Sidon, no doubt after the port from which they set sail in the Old world which lay just to the north of Israel. It was the custom of that time to name territories after the man who first led them to the area, with the land adjacent and around the river Sidon thus named the land of Zarahemla, after Zarahemla, with their capital city also given the honor of his name.
The Merger of the Nephites and Mulekites
While the Mulekites were establishing settlements in lower Ontario and across the Niagara in western New York, the Nephites, a long-headed, or doliocephalic, people whose skull type is typical of the Semitic tribes of Israel, were settling the lands of their first inheritance all across Pennsylvania and northward into southwestern New York-–a people considered the Proto-Iroquois in the archaeological record.
Around around130 B.C., the Nephites left their southern homeland and merged with the Mulekites. Thus, the city of Zarahemla became the religious center of the merged Nephite and Mulekite populations, two royal lines of the House of Israel, the Nephites holding the birthright in Israel through Joseph, and the Mulekites carrying the crown through Judah—both now living in the promised land of America, a land destined for great and marvelous things.
The Nephite Hopewell Connection
The archaeological record shows that the Hopewell Culture originated in Ohio around 300-250 B.C., and quickly became a system of interaction among a variety of societies which spread from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. As to who initiated the network, evidence now leads to the arrival of Celtic mariners from the North Atlantic whose relics and forts, which were aliened to the sun and moon, first show up along the New England Coast. Their identity remained a mystery until Barry Fell identified them as not just Celtic sailors, but Goidelic Celts, whose father was Zarah-Judah-the progenitor of the Goidelic speaking people of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
The relics and stone monuments the Celts left behind show they ultimately migrated west through West Virginia and Tennessee and then north into southern Ohio where they merged with the existing mound-building Adena, a Shamanistic people whose stratified social order left hundreds of burial mounds scattered across the land, with a new culture emerging called Hopewell.
While the Hopewell adopted the Adena’s custom of burying their kings and heroes in large earthen mounds, they added their own style earthworks to the mix, such huge geometric-shaped earth works, with others resembling an animal or snake. The serpent was particularly popular among the Hopewell, for it was the traditional symbol of the Israelite tribe of Dan whose seafaring ancestors fathered many of the Celtic tribes in the northern isles. Thus, it is no surprise that the Hopewell were pagans who worshiped the sun and the moon rather than Jehovah–Dan being the first in Israel to take to idol worship. Some were likely among the anti-christs who penetrated Nephite territory and tried to persuade the Nephites there was no Christ.
Still other immigrants from the tribes of Zarah and Dan (for they often sailed together) arrived from the north of Europe and settled in Florida. In time, they, too, joined their Ohio kinsmen, having sailed north up the Mississippi River and inland across the Cumberland Pass to Ohio. Along with a new influx of people, and their custom of building flat-topped pyramid mounds with a temple on top, they provided the budding Hopewell traditions with a new fluorescence that elevated it far above its former glory.
Nephites Among the Hopewell
Archaeologists believed the trade network of the Ohio Hopewell ultimately became so attractive to the people living to the north of Ohio in southern Ontario and upper New York (Zarahemla),that many of them also moved south to join them. The Nephites were still living in southwestern New York and Pennsylvania at this early date. Thus, we would have to assume the northerners were Mulekites (the proto-Algonquians), which would explain why by far the most prominent skull type found among the Hopewell was the round, or brachycephalic, skull type which is consistent with the Jewish and Celtic populations.
It appears that during the 400 or 500 years the long-headed, or doliocephalic, Nephites and Lamanites (the proto-Iroquois) lived to the south the Mulekites in Zarahemla, they, too, migrated west and became part of Ohio’s early occupants, for recent DNA evidence shows links between the Cherokee, a southern branch of the New York Iroquois and the Ohio Hopewell, which is not surprising considering the two regions border each other.
The early Saints following the latter-day Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ followed that same path from New York into Ohio, and then on to Illinois where we find still another tie between New York’s ancient populations and the Havana Culture of Illinois. Genetic and cultural ties between those and New York and Illinois have been well documented, including their similar long, doliocephalic skull type. Thus, it appears the Nephites spread-out clear across the land during their long stay in the lands of their first inheritance in New York, just as the early Latter-day Saints of our day did.
The End of Both the Nephites and Hopewell
Not surprisingly, the evidence shows that the far-reaching Hopewell trade network died out around the same time as the New York based Nephites around 350-400 A.D. By this time, the Nephites and Mulekites were spread all across the Great Lakes Basin, with the Lamanites still hoping to win supremacy over the land—all of it , not just the restricted regions of their fatherland in New York. Thus, war ensued between the Hopewell and what scholars believe were the proto-Algonquians and their Iroquois allies, with the war going in favor of the Native tribes around 350 A.D.
Traditions and legends reveal that those not killed in battle during the Lamanite’s long war with the Hopewell were sent on along migration into Mexico, leaving the land to their conquerors. The Nephites living in New York did not fare so well, however. After a four year truce was granted the Nephites by their Lamanite brothers to gather out the residue of their people from all the outlying regions, the war continued, and then ended in favor of the Lamanites. The entire Nephite population was totally exterminated around the Hill Cumorah in New York State in 385 A.D., with death and destruction now covering the land from New York to the Mississippi, and beyond.
The Mounds of the Nephites
During his travels with Zion’s Camp, the Prophet Joseph Smith, having traveled from Ohio through Indiana into Illinois said in a letter to his wife Emma on June 4, 1834 near Atlas, Illinois on the Mississippi River:`
“The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity … During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country-Nephites, Lamanites, etc. ” (Joseph Smith Papers Letter to Emma Smith, 4 June 1834, Page 56.)
The White Lamanite Zelph and The Prophet Onondagas
In an account published as part of the “History of Joseph Smith” in 1846, a prophet named Onondagas was referenced in a vision the prophet had of an ancient Indian warrior named Zelph. The account of Joseph reads:
“The visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the spirit of the Almighty I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us, was a white Lamanite … He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagas, who was known from the hill Cumorah, or Eastern sea, to the Rocky Mountains. His name was Zelph. … He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.” (History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons 6, no. 20, (January 1, 1846): 1076.)
While Zelph was described in the vision as a white Lamanite who fought under a great prophet named Onandagus (variously spelled), the question remains, who was Onandagus? All we know about him is that he was known from the Rocky Mountains to the Hill Cumorah, or Eastern Sea. It seems obvious from the wording here that the eastern sea was somewhere in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah, and thus likely Oneida Lake which lay just to the southeast of Cumorah–the largest and easternmost lake in New York State.
Just a little to the west of Oneida Lake is a beautiful little lake called Onondaga Lake. The five founding tribal nations of the Iroquois Confederacy were formed around Lake Onondaga. The Iroquois, who claim New York to be their ancestral homeland, say that several generations of Indian prophets named Onondagas lived around Lake Onondaga which is how it got its name.Thus, New York was likely the homeland of this Prophet Onondagas as well, and likely the white Lamanite Zelph too.
As to the prophet’s wide area of influence, from the Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains, by studying the position of the DNA X haplogroup found among Native Americans on the genetic tree, which is now tied to the Near East and Israel, we find the Iroquois carry the X haplogroup in frequencies as high as 10-40%. While most of today’s Native American tribes carrying the X haplogroup live around the Great Lakes, the Navajo Indians living in their southeastern Utah, Rocky Mountain homes, carry the X haplogroup at frequencies of 7%. –likely having been led their by the Lord to preserve them from destruction during the last terrible battle at Cumorah—the same place he led the Latter-day Saints of the newly restored Church of Jesus Christ to preserve them from destruction during their years of persecution and exile.
Zarahemla, its Name and Location
Just like the many of the ancient cities noted in the Book of Mormon were named after the men who founded them, many of the cities in our modern age were named after the cities in the Book of Mormon, such as Utah’s cities of Manti, Bountiful, Nephi, Lehi and Moroni where the Latter-day Saints of the restored Church of Jesus Christ gathered after having been persecuted and driven west to the Rocky Mountains. The name Zarahemla had already been given a site in Iowa just prior to their trek west as a gathering place and sanctuary for the fleeing Saints. In the History of the Church Vol. 3, p382, we read:
“Tuesday 2, Spent the forenoon of this day on the Iowa side of the river. Went, in company with Elders Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, and Bishops Whitney and Knight, and others, to visit a purchase lately made by Bishop Knight as a location for a town and advised that a town be built there, and called Zarahemla.”
Two years later, Joseph Smith went to the Lord and asked if the sites he had chosen and named had the Lord’s approval. In the D&C 125:3-4, we read of Joseph’s inquiry, and then the Lord’s response.
“What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa. Verily, thus saith the Lord, I say unto you, if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the Stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord” (D&C 125: 1-4).
John Smith was sustained as president of the Zarahemla, Iowa Stake. The stake was dissolved three years later; a second stake for Iowa would not be organized until 1966.
While various cities and towns in Utah were named after the cities of the Book of Mormon to keep the Saints in remembrance of that sacred work, the idea that the original land of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon saga was in Iowa is folly. None of the numerous geographical descriptions given in the scriptures can be reconciled with these areas, not the topography of the land, nor their landmarks, not even the flow of the rivers which in Zarahemla flowed north while those in Iowa and Missouri, and even the Mississippi, flow south. There is no indication, suggestion, or hint from either Joseph Smith or the Lord that the area in Iowa was the site of Book of Mormon events, but merely so named to honor and remember that sacred setting.
Examining the Evidence
If the various settings proposed for the Book of Mormon were on trial, opposing attorneys would be required to lay out the case in favor of their clients setting. Such scrutiny would include reconciling various landmarks and geographical descriptions provided in the scriptures with each proposed setting, including such things a narrow neck of land, or a sea that divided the land, or a land of many waters, and their relation to various Nephite towns and cities, and the time it took to get from one to the other.
Even such things as the weather must be debated, for certain geographers have chosen to make the weather an issue in determining the location of Book of Mormon territory, supposing that it was too cold in New York, and thus must be in a tropical setting since the Lamanites were described as wearing nothing but loin cloths at one point in the Book of Mormon narrative.
Further study would have alerted them to the fact that the weather was 4 or 5 degrees warmer during Book of Mormon times. And what would be the argument for or against those same weather conditions in relation to the grains grown in Book of Mormon territory, not all of which thrive in a tropical setting?
But, there is more! Each attorney must present evidence that such things as horses and elephants, and the cureloms and cummons mentioned in the Book of Mormon show up in the archaeological record of each setting, for everything must fit when trying to outline a true and viable candidate for the lost lands of the Book of Mormon, not just a few things.
It is not enough to find one landmark, or one sea, or a narrow neck of land someplace in one’s efforts to lay out a proper model for Book of Mormon geography. Each model must include each and every geographical description included in the Book of Mormon, and each of the issues thus described.
Everything must fit. The topography of the land must fit, the DNA of the ancient populations must fit, even the skull types must fit, with those of the Nephites carrying the X haplogroup and the long skull type noted among all the Semitic tribes of Israel—and all of which can be reconciled with the ancient people of western New York.
The New York Setting Versus,the Mesoamerican and Heartland Settings
Over the course of the past 100 years, over seventy different locations were proposed to be the lands of the Book of Mormon, with all but a handful featuring a Central or South American setting for the Book of Mormon. As time went by and the more prominent Book of Mormon scholars chased their smaller competitors away, Mesoamerica took over as the most widely accepted location for Book of Mormon events.
Much of their reasoning focused on the exotic pyramid shaped temples found in Mesoamerica, thinking them to be the remnants of the ancient Nephite civilization. Mormon art even began to portray Book of Mormon scenes in Mesoamerica amid the palm trees and stepped pyramids which modern research now validates were used to worship the sun, not the Savior, and were stained with the blood of human sacrifice.
A popular notion has arisen over the past decade which suggests the Hopewell living in Missouri and Illinois and Iowa were the Nephites of the Book of Mormon, and that this was the area the Book of Mormon saga took place, not in the regions around New York’s Hill Cumorah.
This is a very complicated story, one best shown in the following video.
The Jaredites of the Book of Mormon
The fascinating story of the Jaredites arrival in the promised land from Babylon during the Confusion of Tongues is told in the book of Ether, the last book in the Book of Mormon.The Lord descried the land they were led to as a land choice above all others, which all the evidence suggests was America.He said:
After the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;. . .(Book of Mormon | Ether 13:2)
The northern parts of the continent had just come out of the last ice age when the Jaredites first arrived, including northern New York in the lands near and around the Hill Cumorah where they settled, although the hill was was called Ramah by the Jaredites.
Because the land had been so recently covered in great Glaciers, the region they settled was devoid of both animals and fish in many areas. Thus, it becomes evident why the Lord instructed them to bring animals, birds, fish, and even bees with them to the new world.
Unfortunately, although the Jaredites were highly favored of the Lord, they were all to often prone of war which ultimately cost them everything, for their last war was one of complete destruction, with only one man remaining. The following video tells the story of this fascinating people, some of which were giants, from their departure from Babylon to their final war.
The Jaredites Arrival in the Promised Land.
The Archaeological Evidence
In the introduction of the Book of Mormon we read: “The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterwards separated into two nations, one known as the Nephites, and the other the Lamanites. . . after a thousand years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”
Unfortunately, the Saints were not too interested in earth works found in the area for they believed they were not grand enough to be those left by the Nephites. Thus, the Saints began to look elsewhere for the lands of the Book of Mormon which led the noted intellectual and LDS archaeologist, Hugh Nibley, to say: ” Blinded by the gold of the pharaohs and the mighty ruins of Babylon, Book of Mormon students have declared themselves . . . (READ MORE)
It was not until our modern age that a language tie to the ancient writings of the Nephite’s was found. After extensive study of the Micmac Indians’ hieroglyphics, the epigrapher Barry Fell noted a definite connection between the Algonquian language,of which the Mcmac were a part, and Egypt.
He first noticed the similarities when he was studying a document found on a sheet of paper containing The Lord’s Prayer written in Micmac Hieroglyphs. Being an authority on ancient languages he was not only surprised but mystified to note that the meaning of the signs in Egyptian were the very same as those found on the English translation of the Micmac text. In fact, he was so amazed by the remarkable similarities that he was surprised that no one else had ever noticed it before. (READ MORE)
“Phyllis Carol Olive, author of the best-selling book, The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, resides in Las Vegas with her husband, Ron Olive. They have a combined family of seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren.”
I held a wide variety of both teaching and leadership positions in the church before my health gave out and left her totally housebound. Sad as that period of pain and despair was for me, and with nothing but time on my hand now, I began a more comprehensive study of the Book of Mormon as per the request of President Gordon B. Hinckley who asked the Saints at that time to read the Book of Mormon more faithfully.
Thus a long journey of discovery began which continued for the next 20 years. However, it only took a year or so to discover, through diligent study and prayer, the most plausible setting for the Book of Mormon yet proposed, right there in New York not far from the Hill Cumorah itself. Not feeling I could keep this material to myself, I began to write, with the book that followed called appropriately, The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, which quickly became a best seller.(CFI) ,. . . (READ MORE)
Her various books and Testimonials are shown in the READ MORE section noted above in blue.
Her Research went on for twenty years with some some of the books she studied shown in the following video. ( the sound on this video does not stay in sync, I apologize for that-it is not your computer. A more updated video is in the works.)
See more videos on my YouTube Channel