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. The Mississippi and Ohio River valleys were perfectly adapted to the class of people who built the mounds, with great mountain ranges to both the east and west which acted as barriers to protect their unique civilization.
A number of rivers were connected to the Ohio which allowed people to sail from the southern Ohio mound centers to nearly all the other districts where mounds have been discovered, for the rivers were all navigable. The Ohio River also connected with the mighty Mississippi, and from there one could travel up the Missouri River to regions further west as well. Ohio thus became the central capital of the mound building regions.
Few people wanted to believe the Indians built the mounds. Yet, DNA has now proven that the Indians were very much involved, at least their ancestors who appear to have made up a large part of the Hopewell populations. Yet, recent evidence suggests the hierarchy among the Hopewell were of foreign birth, pagans who brought their sun-worshiping religions with them to the new world, the same type religion of anti-Christs found among the Nehors of the Book of Mormon.
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 Algonquins, Iroquois and Sioux. 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.
The culture of the Tennessee/Cumberland area shows affinities to two regions, one in the area of the lower Wabash River, which divides the states of Indiana and Illinois and extended across Kentucky into Tennessee, and the other corresponding to eastern Tennessee and adjacent portions of Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas with a mountainous barrier between the two regions. It was through Cumberland Pass that the different populations in the south and the Gulf States made their way to the trade centers in the valley of the Ohio.
Inland trade moved up and down the Indian trails between Ohio and the Gulf States regularly, bringing with it the high trappings which elevated the early Hopewell center in Ohio into one of grandeur. Don Dragoo believes these outside influences played a greater part in the changes that took place among the Hopewell than has been credited heretofore, including, 1-the rise of a strong social religious class ruling in Ohio constituting a selected minority of the population; 2-an elaboration and centralization of the functions of the mortuary cults by the ruling class, 3-establishemt 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)
With new blood injected into the Hopewell mound center, Ohio became a swarming place for several stocks and the central trade capital of the region. Trade routes extended in all directions across the country, particularly during the 200-year-long golden age of the Nephites following the visit of the Savior to the region after his death and resurrection. DNA taken from the bones of the widespread Hopewell trade network show people came to trade from all across the country with their DNA linked to the ancestors of the Ojibway and Kickapoo of the Great Lakes region, with others as far away as the Apache, Iowa, Micmac, Pawnee, Pima, Seri, Southwest Sioux and Yakima. (2) See The Lost Sheep of Ancient America (CFI) for a much more comprehensive study of the subject.
Silverberg describes how far reaching this trade network extended, he said:
Artifacts found in the Ohio mounds testify to Hopewell’s even more impressive ability to send trade missions beyond its Midwestern heart-land. Copper from the Great Lakes, mica from the Appalachians, volcanic glass from the Rockies, fossil shark teeth, silver, meteoritic iron, and other exotic materials show what a wide net the Hopewell’s were able to cast. (3)
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 were likely among the Hopewell elite, 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 archaeological record bears out the scriptural account, for very few Hopewell elements have been found in New York. Olaf Prufer adds: “whatever the temporal connections between Ohio and New York Hopewell may have been, it is fairly clear that eastern Hopewell is a direct, albeit somewhat ‘strained out,’ derivative of Ohio Hopewell.” That was no doubt because the Nephites were not sun-worshippers and thus did not participate in the decadent Hopewellian traditions like those of their cousins to the west.
1-Don Dragoo, Hopewellian Studies, p. 25.
2 Hopewell Ancient DNA Research –http://www.friendsofpast.org/earliest-americans/030807OhioDNA.html
3-Silverberg, The Mound Builders, p. 203.