Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smite the Seed of My Brethren – Part I

Perhaps it is worthwhile to remind us all of the developments that led both to the creation of the United States and the treatment of the indigenous natives (American Indians) of the Western Hemisphere.
“And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw. And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?”
First of all, Nephi was given a vision upon his request to see what his father, Lehi, had seen. After seeing the tree of life, the birth of the Savior, and his mission on Earth, and the Nephite-Lamanite wars and the demise of his own people, Nephi tells us: “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren” (1 Nephi 13:10). That is, Nephi’s vision covered both the Lamanites, after they had utterly annihilated the Nephites, in the Land of Promise, and also the gentiles on the other side of the Sea. Evidently, the condition of the Lamanites was one that caused a negative feeling as he told Nephi, “Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren” (1 Nephi 13:11).
Part of what Nephi saw was also a man among the gentiles on the other side of the Sea, Nephi “beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12). There is little disagreement that this man was Columbus, who was led by the Spirit to “discover” the Western Hemisphere. In 1950, Elder Spencer W. Kimball testified that God “inspired a little boy, Christopher Columbus, to stand on the quays in Genoa, Italy, and yearn for the sea. He was filled with the desire to sail the seas, and he fulfilled a great prophecy made long, long ago that this land, chosen above all other lands, should be discovered. And so when he was mature, opportunity was granted to him to brave the unknown seas, to find this land . . . and to open the door, as it were.”
It was Columbus himself who said to the king and queen of Spain, “I came to your majesty as the emissary of the Holy Ghost.” From the writings of Christopher Columbus we find the following significant statement: “It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel his hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me…. For the execution of the journey to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied.”
LtoR Top to Bottom: Columbus presenting his plan to the king and queen of Spain; the queen seeing Columbus off; Columbus landing in the Caribbean and proclaiming the land for Spain; Columbus reporting back to the king and queen with gifts and some Indians from then New World
In all of this vision Nephi received, he also saw the coming of the European gentiles to the Land of Promise, the war for North America the British fought with the French, and the many European nations involved in the discovery and conquest of the New World (1 Nephi 13:13-15). Nephi also saw the eventual development of the American colonies into the United States of America (1 Nephi 13:16-19).
Before these events, however, Nephi saw what happened to “his brethren,” that is, the Lamanite people who had descended down through time from the last battle with the Nephites in 365 A.D., and the wars among themselves that followed at least through 421 A.D., at which time we are told “there is no end in sight” (Mormon 8:8).
When the Spanish arrived, they were brutal in their destruction of the Aztec, Maya and Inca, but perhaps nowhere were they as bloody as in their treatment of the Inca and adjoining cultures (tribes and clans) of the Andean area, from Ecuador to Chile.
The treatment Francisco Pizarro Golnzalez inflicted upon the Inca was one of bloody brutality, cruel deception and lies. He reduced a thriving empire to ashes and made slaves of its populace, all in the name of God
Hernan Cortes, conqueror of the Aztecs, Francisco, Pedro de Alvarado, conqueror of the Maya, and Pizarro, conqueror of the Inca, were all men of limited humanity. It is recorded that they were cruel, violent men who did not flinch from torture, mayhem, murder and rapine, enjoying inflicting pain, cruelty, degradation, and humiliation on others. When they weren’t fighting and killing the indigenous natives, they were fighting among themselves. Perhaps the worst of them was Pizarro, who was known to have moments of great cruelty. It is recorded that after his puppet Emperor, Manco Inca, went into open rebellion, the “ruthless Pizarro” ordered that Manco's wife Cura Ocllo be tied to a stake and shot with arrows: her body was floated down a river where Manco would find it. Later, Pizarro ordered the murder of sixteen captured Inca chieftains: one of them was burned alive. His treacherous double cross of the Inca leader, Atahuallpa, was overshadowed by his double cross of his own lieutenants, such as Diego de Almagro, who never forgave the conqueror, causing a civil war among the armies for which Pizarro had him hung.
After the conquest, the Spanish had three terms that applied to their dealings with the Indians: the encomiendo, the mitad, and the repartimiento, each indicating a form of injustice. First, the conquerors divided the country between themselves, and the encomiendos were rights granted them to hold the Indians for a number of years as workers in their fields or mines. Under these grants, the natives were converted into beasts of burden, and forced to do the hardest work without the least compensation. They were forced to labor all day long under the burning tropical sun, to dive into the sea in search of pearls for their masters, or to toil buried from the light of day in the depths of the mines. It is not surprising that these miserable slaves, accustomed to a life of indolence and ease, perished as if exposed to a killing plague.
The Spanish mines in Peru were death traps to the Inca slaves who were forced to work in them—80% died during their six month forced labor in the mines
Second, the mitad was a law requiring every man from the age of 18 to 50 to render bodily service, with the natives of each mining colony of South America being divided into seven sections, each of which had to work six months in the mines. Every mine-owner could demand the number of Indians he needed—in Peru alone fourteen hundred mines were worked, and labor of this kind was in constant demand. The Indians looked upon this “service” as a death sentence and when called into the mines, they gave away all their possessions to their relatives, and went through a funeral services, as if they were already dead—80% did not survive this six month tour in the mines, killing a reported 8 million victims. For those who did survive, they were almost always in debt to the mine owners for the cost of their food, clothing, and liquor, and thus unable to pay off the debt, were enslaved for life.
Further explanation of the terrible and unconscionable horrors the Spanish imposed upon the Indians for the next two hundred years is not meet for this venue, suffice it to say that the degradations were beyond description and certainly meets the description Nephi wrote when he said “and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:14).
(see the next post, “Smite the Seed of My Brethren – Part II,” for more on the development of the Western Hemisphere and the creation of the various countries formed by the gentiles and their treatment of the indigenous natives—the American Indians)

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