This particular article is a reprint from an early Foundation for Research on Ancient
America newsletter no. 36 dated January 14, 1981 pg. 4 written by Gordon W. Harrison, of
There is an incident told in Alma 14, of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi taking their swords and all their weapons which were used for the shedding of man's blood and burying them deep in the earth. They made a covenant with God that they would never again shed the blood of man.
It is an unlikely story, isn't it? So unlikely, in fact, that I would be willing almost to wager that there is only one other place in all this world that such a story as that can be found. That is in Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha."
I had a little of "Hiawatha" in high school. About all I could remember of it was their God Gitche Manito, Nokomis and the shores of Gitche Gumee, Hiawatha's birch bark canoe and Minnehaha. I had never read all of the poem but I liked what I read so well that I could not forget it. Many years later, after I had become a member of the Reorgnized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and had become familiar with the Book of Mormon, thoughts of Hiawatha came back to me and I inquired about it at the library. I took home a book of Longfellow's poems with "The Song of Hiawatha" in it.
I began reading, without the slightest idea of what I was going to find. I had not read very far before I discovered that I was receiving one of the greatest surprises of my life, for I was actually reading a short version of much of the Book of Mormon. With poetic license, Longfellow tells what the Indians believed in the way of legends and traditions as they were handed down through the ages, and of the things that had happened in the lives of their forefathers in the long ago.
They believed in God who was their Creator and Master of Life. It was he who gave them everything. Hiawatha was their prophet and teacher and deliverer. He had a wondrous birth and being, much different from anyone else's. In the first chapter God calls all the Indian tribes together and reprimands them for their fighting. He commands them to be at peace with one another and to live toghther as brothers, and counsels them in these words:
"I will send a Prophet to you, a Deliverer of the nations, who shall guide you and shall teach you, who shall toil and suffer with you. If you listen to his counsels, you will multiply and prosper; if his warnings pass unheeded, you will fade away and perish!"
He commanded them to bathe in the stream before them and wash themselves clean, which they did. This referred, no doubt, to their baptism, as it was remembered. God commanded them at the same time to bury their war-clubs and weapons (so like the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi):
"Then upon the ground the warriors threw their cloaks and shirts of deer-skin, threw their weapons and their war-gear, leaped into the rushing river, washed the war-paint from their faces. Clear above them flowed the water, clear and limpid from the footprints of the Master of Life descending; dark below them flowed the water, soiled and stained with streaks of crimson, as if blood were mingled with it!" If we could see the water after our baptism, as God sees it, maybe it would look that way, too.
"From the river came the warriors, clean and washed from all their war-paint; on the banks their clubs they buried, buried all their warlike weapons. Gitche Manito, the mighty, the Great Spirit, the creator, smiled upon his helpless children!"
Where else can you read a story like that except in the Book of Mormon? And about the same people!
I suggest that you read "The Song of Hiawatha" studiously. You will find many things in it similar to the Book of Mormon. Longfellow said he got these legends and traditions from the Indians and he published his poem in 1855. Joseph Smith got his record from God and published it in 1830.
Longfellow's poem, Chapter 5, tells about Hiawatha's prayer and fasting. Chapter 6 tells about the singer, singing of death, and life undying, in the land of the Hereafter. So the Indians knew about that. Chapter 13 says, "Buried was the bloody hatchet," and "the dreadful war-club," and all the "war-like weapons." The warcry was forgotten and there was peace among the nations. They went about their hunting and their possessions were unmolested. Was this the "Golden Age" of the Nephites?
There are to many similarities in these two stories, about the same people, to be just a coincidence. Don't you think so, too?