When European colonists began to expand west beyond the Allegheny Mountains, they found tens of thousands of mounds scattered all across the land. Massive structures of every conceivable type were found, including pyramids, cone shaped mounds, hill-top forts, terraced platforms, and effigy mounds in the shape of various animals, each of which must have taken thousands of man-hours to construct, most built as monuments to their honored dead.
While most Hopewell mounds were built to house their honored dead, Olaf Prufer maintains that the most flamboyant traits of the Hopewell, including their practice of sun-worship, seems to have originated from outside sources, particularly those living along the Tennessee River System where we find an ancient people S. D. Peet simply refers to as the stone-grave people, for they buried their dead in boxlike cists. The stone-grave people were a broad-headed people unlike the narrow-headed skull types found among the populations settled around the Great Lakes, i.e., the Algonquians, Iroquois and Sioux-those of Nephite and Mulekite stock.
Several noted historians and archaeologists note the similarities between the stone grave people and those living in Ireland, a people who appear to have arrived via the Atlantic where they initially settled in New England, and from there across the land to West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. From there they migrated along the Ohio River into Ohio and Illinois and along the Mississippi where major changes began to take shape including, 1-the rise of a strong religious class which constituted a selected minority of the population; 2-an elaboration and centralization of a mortuary cult by the ruling class, 3-the establishment of a more effective social organization that brought the general population under the control of the ruling class, and 4-a general population increase. (1-Don Dragoo, Hopewellian Studies, p. 25.)
Trade was likely the main reason the Nephites participated in the Hopewell phenomena and began moving west to join them. Those who remained in New York steered clear of their society however, for the ceremonial centers built up in Hopewell territory were centers of sun, moon, and serpent worship. The Nehors noted in the Book of Moron may well have been tied to the Hopewell, a people the Nephites had to use all their strategies to keep out of Nephite territory, for all too many of their people succumbed to their decadent ways and headed south to live among the Lamanites-those likely living in Ohio where the Order of Nehor was flourishing, an order very much like the Druidic Order of Ireland and England.
The following video explains the major differences between the Nephites living in New York and upper Ohio and the mound building people of the Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys and just how some of the more apostate Nephites came to join them, and why.
- Book of Mormon Lands are Sacred Lands
- The Shifting Focus of Book of Mormon Geography