Saturday, February 13, 2016

Were Deer Mistaken as Horses?

Always trying to cloud the issue, Mesoamericanist theorists try desperately to convince us that because no horses having been found in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, that the Spanish misinterpreted “horse” for “deer,” and that the Red Brocket Deer of Mesoamerica was, in fact, the horses mentioned in the scriptural record. 
    The interesting thing is, the Spanish chronicles to do not suggest that. In fact, though surprising to us today, evidence suggests that some species of Amerindian deer may have been raised and shepherded as “flocks” in pre-Columbian times. When the early Spanish explorers first visited what is now the southeastern United States, they encountered Native Americans who raised semi-domesticated deer. Men from De Soto’s expedition reported that in Ocale, an Indian town in northern Florida, “there is to be found . . . fowls, a multitude of turkeys, kept in pens, and herds of tame deer that are tended.”
    According to the 16th-century Spanish historian Gómara, in Apalachicola (that is now the state of Florida), “there are very many deer that they raise in the house and they go with shepherds into the pasture, and they return to the corral at night”(Francisco López de Gómara, Historia General de las Indias (Barcelona: Obras Maestras, 1966), 70).
However, though theorists like to quote such things as though they think it is a reason for misinterpreting words and an answer for the horse, Hernando DeSoto (left) in his  Narratives of the career of Hernando De Soto, (New York, Allerton Book, 1922, p 162), makes it quite clear he knew he was dealing with deer: “there is to be found fowls, a multitude of turkeys, kept in pens, and herds of tame deer that are tended.”
    In all these regions they visited, the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle. These deer bring forth and nourish their young in the houses of the natives. During the daytime they wander freely through the woods in search of their food, and in the evening they come back to their little ones, who have been cared for, allowing themselves to be shut up in the courtyards and even to be milked, when they have suckled their fawns. The only milk the natives know is that of the does, from which they make cheese.
Red Brocket Deer
In fact, some believe that deer may have been tamed or semi-domesticated in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as well. According to Diego de Landa, Maya women “let the deer suck their breasts, by which means they raise them and make them so tame that they never will go into the woods, although they take them and carry them through the woods and raise them there” (Landa’s Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1941), 127.)
Fallow Deer
When the Spanish passed through the region of Guatemala and Honduras, they likewise encountered and easily killed fallow deer that were not afraid of them (Hernando Cortes, Five Letters of Cortes to the Emperor (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 314). Their tameness seems to have been due to the Maya practice of taming or husbanding them. Some Mesoamerican scholars, “… are convinced that small herds of tamed or semi-domesticated deer ranged through Maya sites, with a result not dissimilar in some respects to the ‘deer parks’ of European royalty” (Brian D. Dillon, “Meatless Maya? Ethnoarchaeological Implications for Ancient Subsistence,” Journal of New World Archaeology 7/2-3 (June 1988), 60.)
White Deer
It is claimed that when the Spanish entered the region of what is modern El Salvador, the Spaniards encountered a native people known as Mazahuas, who took their name from the practice of possessing and shepherding herds of “white deer,” which disappeared shortly after the Conquest; however, the Mazahuas were not in El Salvador, but were an indigenous people of Mexico, primarily inhabiting the northwestern portion of the State of Mexico and small parts of Michoacan and Queretaro—all in what the Mesoamericanists would call the Land Northward far north of their Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In addition, the Mazahua called themselves Tetjo ñaa jñatjo which roughly means “those who speak their own language.” The word Mazahua probably comes from Nahuatl, meaning “deer-foot” referring to those who track deer for hunting. However, deer hunting has long since died out as a tradition with the loss of deer habitat (Listado de Diputados por Grupo Parlmentario del Estado de Queretaro; Camara de Disputados).
Lenca, Olmec, Maya
The Indians that occupied El Salvador were mostly the Lenca, which was the oldest indigenous civilization to settle in El Salvador, who were followed by the Olmecs who then disappeared leaving their monumental architecture in the pyramids of western El Salvador. Then came the Maya, including the Kekchi (Q’eqchi) who were driven out by the Ilopango volcano eruption. Centuries later came the Pipil people, Nahua speaking groups who migrated from Mexico in the centuries before the European conquest and occupied the central and western regions, and were the last indigenous people to arrive in El Salvador. Before the Spanish arrived, there were also Matagalpa and the Cuzcatlecs—but no Mazahua.
    Some of this calls into question the reality of the deer tameness, however,the point is, all the Spanish who wrote about such tame deer did not mistake that they were dealing with deer and not some other animals which theorists today try to show why the animal names in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon are inaccurate, or didn’t really mean the animal named. No one was fooled by the appearance of these domesticated deer, thinking they were some other animal, such as a goat, or horse, as has been claimed.
Goat, Horse, Sheep
    Sometimes, the type of sloppy writing or lack of research involved is glaringly inaccurate, such as the statement in Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper’s extensive article on animals, they state: “The Jaredites were the earliest peoples mentioned in the Book of Mormon to have domesticated animals in what’s now America. They brought the most useful ones practical to bring in their barges from the Old World (Ether 6:4). Although no specific kinds of animals are listed, most likely the animals would have included sheep and goats under the heading of “flocks and herds.”
    However, the animals brought by the Jaredites, though not all described, eleven are specifically singled out, and they were: “And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:18-19). In addition, we are told that they gathered “flocks, both male and female, of every kind” (Ether 1:41), which typically includes domestic and wild sheep; domestic and wild goats; however, other flocks known are: auks, camels, moose, rabbits, and reindeer. In addition, some birds are known as flocks, as well as ducks, geese and pigeons.
In addition, we are told that the Jaredites had “their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them” (Ether 6:4). Now herd includes antelope, asses, bison, buffalo, cattle, curlews, deer, donkeys, elephants, elk, goats, horses, impala, kangaroos, swans, walruses, wrens, zebras. Of course, horses, are not only specifically mentioned by the Jaredites, but also the Nephites (3 Nephi 3:22) and Lamanites (Alma 18:9-10, 12; 20:6). It is also known that the Jaredites took fowl, fish, and honey bees (Ether 2:2-3).
    Thus, the Jaredites brought numerous animals, birds, fish, and bees to repopulate the Western Hemisphere. What was included in the statement “of every kind,” is not known, but we can assume that it was a varied menagerie, since we are not told the Mulekites or Lehi brought animals of any kind with them, it would appear that whatever repopulated the Western Hemisphere prior to the coming of Columbus and others, was brought by the Jaredites.
Consequently, since horses are mentioned in eight different sequences in the scriptural record, covering a period from about 2100 B.C. with the Jaredites, to about 20 A.D. with the Nephites, and the term is used in conjunctin with chariots for both the Lamanites (Alma 18:9) and the Nephites (3 Nephi 3:22), it seems reasonable to determine that we are talking about actual horses, not cloths or tapirs as Sorenson wants us to believe, or some other animal since chariots have never been drawn by anything other than horses.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting article. However, the picture you gave of Red Brocket Deer is actually a picture of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) native to Europe. This is a real brocket deer:

    Size comparison:

    It would be a large stretch to compare these guys to horses. Little goats, maybe. Possibly pigs, but definitely not horses.