Monday, May 29, 2017

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Here are some more comments from our readers:
    Comment #1: “I saw a presentation on the internet recently about the Great Lakes area. I know you don’t like that area, but it was interesting that they said the word “Niagara” means “Neck,” or “Narrow Neck” which sounds legitimate to me, since it is about a narrow strip of land between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which some Great Lakes believers think is the narrow neck of land. What do you think of that idea?” Adelle M. 
    Response: You are probably referring to Ryan P. Ingram’s video on Book of Mormon Map, “Alma 22 Finally Deciphered,” which highlights the Heartland model of Rod Meldrum and Wayne May.

Rod Meldrum’s Land of Promise model map. One would be hard-pressed to match this to the scriptural descriptions given by Mormon
The problem with many of these people, their information is either wrong, or they claim it means something it does not. Take your word “Niagara.” It does not mean “neck,” but is a word derived from the Iroquoian word “Ongulaahra,” which was anglicized by French missionaries, and appeared on maps as early as 1641, and it’s generally accepted meaning is “The Strait,” derived from the narrow waterway (not a land bridge which is the meaning of he word "neck") that flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. In fact, according to the etymology of the Iroquois word "Onguiaahra" which appears on documents as early as 1641, and a little later "Ongiara,” both are Indian words thought as meaning "The Straight." A more romantic meaning "Thunder of Waters" is also given; however, it might be more appropriate to state from a reliable source that “Onguiaahra” as meaning “point of land cut in two” (George R. Stewart, Names on the Land, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1967, pg. 83).

The 20 Indian tribes surrounding the Great Lakes and portions of the heartland
Another claim is that the name originated with the French explorers that came to the Niagara area and gave the Indian tribe its name (“Neutrals”) because of their position and status as peace keepers between the two warring Indian nations—the Huron and the Iroquois. They called these “neutral Indians” the "Niagagarega" people on several late-17th-century French maps of the area. The Niagara Falls is claimed to have received its name, and there are many variations including Onjagra, Ongiara, Iagara, Niagra and Yagero, from an Indian word meaning “thundering water” (Frenchman Samuel de Champlain 1604; Swedish Pehr Kalm, 1720)
    On the other hand, according to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, an American geographer noted for his early studies of Native American cultures, the term “neck” was applied much later in 1820, based on Mrs. Kerr, who claimed the word was Mohawk, and was first applied to the portage or neck of land between Erie and Ontario. She claimed that according to Mr. Elliott’s vocabulary, chapter 11, refers to the human neck as “onyara,” and Mrs. Kerr claims that was pronounced “O-ne-au-ga-rah” (Notes on the Iroquois, 1847, pp453-454). It should be noted that the Mohawk, who were the tribe of the most easterly of the Iroguois Five Nations, spoke the Lake Iroquoian language, as did the Oneida, Seneca-Onondaga, and Huron.
    Then, too, a number of figures have been suggested as first circulating an eyewitness description of Niagara Falls. Besides Champlain and Kalm, there was the Belgian missionary Louis Hennepin, who observed and described the falls in 1677, earlier than Kalm, after traveling with the explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, thus bringing the falls to the attention of Europeans, as well as its history among the natives. Further complicating matters, there is credible evidence the French Jesuit missionary Paul Ragueneau visited the falls some 35 years before Hennepin's visit, while working among the Huron First Nation in Canada. Jean de Brebéuf also visited the falls, while spending time with the Neutral Nation. 
    It should be noted that all of these works have led to the term “Strait” as the meaning of the term from which the word “Niagara” derived.
North America’s manufacturing was traditionally highly concentrated in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, where Mohawk “skywalkers” became famous after leaving their homes and taking jobs in the steel industry—it was much later that the Mohawk “ironworkers” built the bridges and the Manhattan skyscrapers

As a side note, the Mohawk, originally one of the five core tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy split up after the Revolutionary War, part went to Canada, the other part remained in the area, but many later went to work in the steel industry in North America’s Industrial Center of New England and the Great Lakes, losing their native language and culture over time and being assimilated into the city lifestyle—of which these were whom Mrs. Kerr would have known, and from which she would have heard the language.
    In addition, the Mohawk-Iroquoi language is not a simple language—the early French spelled the same words variously when they tried to understand and interpret the natives upon first encountering them, and actually gave the name “Mohawk” to the Indians and no one even today knows exactly what the word derived as Mohawk actually means, though some claim it is from Mohowawogs (plural), said to mean "they eat living things" in a southern New England Algonquian tongue, probably a reference to cannibalism. At the time the French were naming the Mohawks in Canada, the term Mohoc or Mohock, variant form of the word, was the name given 1711 to gangs of aristocratic London ruffians.
The Mohawk Indian tribe was one of the original members of the Iroquois Confederation, or Kanonsionni in their own language which means "People of the longhouse"
    Although people of European descent traditionally call the residents of Kahnawake Mohawk, their external name is Kanien’kehá:ka (the "People of the Flint" also another version "those who speak [the language] Kanienka"). The Kanien’kehá'ka were historically the most easterly nation of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) and are known as the "Keepers of the Eastern Door." They were the first Iroquois tribe west of the Hudson River in present-day New York, where they protected other parts of the confederacy to the west against invasion by tribes from present-day New England and the coastal areas.
    On the other hand, it is interesting that whenever an LDS Great Lakes theorist tells us of the words above and their native meanings, they use Mrs. Kerr's Mohawk “onyara,” instead of the Iroquois “Onguiaahra,” even to the extent, as Duane R. Aston does, in saying the word “Niagara” probably originated phonetically from two Mohawk words: “ni-waa,” meaning small, and the word “onyara” meaning neck (Aston, Return to Cumorah, American River Publications, Sacramento, 1998, p22)—funny how that works toward their view, but does not tell the accurate story. All that we have been able to research shows that the most reliable and most preferred translation of the words are “The Strait.” In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the term “strait” meant “passing from one point to another by the nearest course, not deviating or crooked; and the spelling “strait” (as opposed to “straight”) carried the sense of “narrow.”
    Comment #2: “Are you aware that John L. Sorenson in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, claims that the Jaredite immigrant population “could have been only tiny”? Leon W.
    Response: Yes. Sorenson has made it crystal clear he does not believe in population explosions of any kind. However, the facts are simply not in his favor. Take, as an example, the Jaredites, who had an original group of 24 families, with Jared and his brother combined having 34 kids, which if extrapolated, would be 17 kids per family. Briefly, let’s follow this type of family numbers forward (since they are the only ones listed in the scriptural record:
1. 24 families x 17 kids each = 408 children, which when marrying, would be 204 couples;
2. 204 couples x 10 kids each = 2040 children, which when marrying, would be 1020 couples;
3. 1020 couples x 10 kids each = 10,200 children.

In the part of the world Sorenson places the Jaredites, their travel, and history, one can only find very large families and huge community movements
Consequently, in just three generations (about 60 to 75 years) more than the original group, we find a total population of over 10,000 people. A fourth generation would be about 50,000 people in approximately 100 years (factoring about 1000 or so deaths). It seems that one might want to consider such probabilities when extrapolating numbers in a handful of generations when the numbers are provided in the scriptural record. And that would hardly be called “tiny” by anyone but maybe Sorenson.

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