Monday, July 1, 2019

The Land of Promise – Part IV: Lack of a Narrow Pass

Continued from the previous post regarding why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today.
Pathway into the Lower Peninsula between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie including the swamp and marsh areas

While North American theorists claim certain things about the land, a deeper search shows that their claims are as worthless as if they were located on the moon. First of all, regarding the so-called “narrow pass” mentioned in the previous post, the Grand Kankahee Marsh was occupied by numerous Indian tribes over the centuries, with the Sauk and Potwatomi tribes the last to roam there when the Europeans arrived. While the Sauk (Sac) emerged from the Wisconsin area and moved southward around Lake Michigan, the Potwatomi tribes surrounded the southern half of the lake on both the western to the eastern shores, they originated around Detroit.
Numerous Indian tribes ha their settlements in and around the Marsh south of Lake Michigan from the earliest time of habitation on the area

Throughout the centuries before the Europeans arrived, the Native American Algonquin tribes roamed these lands, moving freely between Lake Michigan, to the area of what is now Chicago, Illinois. This area was marvelous for hunting and the Indians made good use of the land. Once the Europeans arrived, however, the Potwatomi were slowly replaced by white men, who were likewise attracted to the vast land, which they termed a “hunter’s paradise.” These new inhabitants were attracted by the vast numbers of fur-bearing animals whose pelts could be sold profitably for making coats, hats and other fashionable garments in nearby cities and to the eastern businesses.
    Many of the scattered small islands rising out of the shallow waters and thick beds of reeds became residences for these men. One marsh historian noted that on almost every island, there were trappers living in shanties or cabins, claiming the area by virtue of some locally devised ‘trapper’s rights’.” On the other hand, some of the islands served the purpose of hideouts for criminals, such as counterfeiters and gangs of horse thieves, who preyed upon settlers across northern Indiana and Illinois
    After the Civil War, this region was infested with a new breed of marsh dwellers, those who invested large amounts of money for hunters of bird and game that could be marketed in Chicago and other cities. As the reputation of the Grand Kankakee Marsh as a “hunters’ paradise” grew, it drew parties of wealthy shooters from not only the Midwest, but other parts of the country and even from Europe. In the last quarter of the 1800s, extensive and often lavish “clubhouses” were erected along the river by groups of affluent sportsmen. However, by the final years of the century, declining populations of birds (especially ducks) drew fewer and fewer hunters.
    By the early 1900s, the Grand Kankakee Marsh had become only a shadow of its former self. After more than a half-century of dredging and drainage-ditch-digging, most of the 2,000 bends between the river’s headwaters and the Illinois state line had been eliminated. The former 250-mile twisting course of the Kankakee had been turned into a straight-line ditch one-third that length. A railroad was built across the marsh, and wagonloads of deer pelts made their way from the marshes to the rails and into eastern cities.
Even at its height, the Swamp and Marsh connected to Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, did not block easy and wide across into the Lower Peninsula 

However, at no time did the Kankahee River or the Marsh keep hunters, settlers, and merchants from living there. For theorists to claim this area was the narrow passage Mormon described, that they claim led into the Lower Peninsula, seems foolhardy at best and downright fallacious at worst.
    It should also be understood that this vast, mostly flat region extends about 2,500 miles north and south. From the Rockies, the dry and treeless Great Plains slope down to the central lowlands, in which there are few, if any blockages to foot traffic over its entire length and breadth.
    The so-called Glenwood Phase of this area began with Lake Michigan being a pro-glacial lake dammed between the ice front and the moraines that circle the southern end of the Lake Michigan Basin. These huge masses of ice were up to 10,000 feet or more in thickness, and moved south into the U.S. leveling existing hills, filled in valleys, blocked drainage patterns of rivers, and gouged out major basins.
    The area now known as Lake Michigan, overtopped the moraine in what is now southwestern Cook County and rapidly eroded an outlet now known as the Sag Valley, which is nearly a mile wide. At this time, the level shoreline was uneven with several inlets, peninsulas and offshore islands. The valleys, called till valleys because of the material picked up and carried by glaciers, leaving behind particles of everything from huge boulders to fine particles of sand. Such an area is called a till plain, and is flat or gently rolling, and very useful as farmland, due to the rich deep soil left behind.
Sand Dunes along the lower Lake Michigan and beyond show the ancient wager line of the lake

Some of the beaches left had large sand dunes, with sand ridges on the moraines marking the early shoreline. Best preserved beaches are along Glenwood-Dyer Road, just east of Glenwood, IL Largest islands were: Blue Island Mt. Forest Island Glenwood Island Hobart Island in Lake County, Indiana, and Cook County.
    All of this is meant to show that not only was the land flat in this overall area, now called the Plains, but that the swamp land or marsh land did not deter movement south to north and could not have provided a logical and localized “Narrow Pass” in such a manner as that described by Mormon.
    One of these theorists claims: “In the 37th year, there was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children, departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward. This would make a group of 10-20,000, depending on family size. The text does not explain whether these people sailed north or traveled overland. It doesn’t even specify from where in the land of Zarahemla they left. The problem is, the scriptural record does tell us in which direction they traveled.”
    However, we know Zarahemla was in the south, just north of the narrow strip of land and the Land of Nephi, which latter was occupied by the Lamanites. We also know that these men and their families traveled northward to reach Hagoth’s shipyards and/or the narrow neck of land. We also know that these groups, both those taking their journey by ship who traveled to “a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4), and those who went overland, who took their journey northward into the Land Northward (Alma 63:9), all obviously traveled northward from the area of the narrow neck where Hagoth built his ships (Alma 63:5).
    It simply cannot be stressed enough that the Land of Zaralehmla bordered on a land between the Land of Zarahemla and the land of Bountiful, which obviously then bordered on the Land of Bountiful, which was so far northward that it bordered on the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:30), which Land of Desolation was so far northward it it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed (Alma 22:30), which was the land of the Jaredites.
    Now, there was a land between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, though it is unnamed: “and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful” (3 Nephi 3:23). Also, in addition, there were other lands northward of the Land of Zarahemla and south of Bountiful, as shown in the statement “yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful” (Helaman 4:5). These lands included the lands of Noah, Sidom, Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen, Angola, and David.  Of all of these cities and lands, the closest to the land Bountiful were Noah and David.  The city of Jacobugath would eventually be northward of the land of Zarahemla, but had not been established at this point in time.  The term 'near' indicates the land near Bountiful is next to the land Bountiful.  Since it was between the land Bountiful and the land of Zarahemla, it would be southward of the land Bountiful.
   Of this subject, another North American Theorists wrote: “Whether they sailed or hiked, it seems unlikely that such a large group would veer far from a river. At a minimum, they would need a constant supply of water.”
    However, when traveling by ship, the travelers would have taken sufficient water with them, and at sea obtained rain mater from fog or downpours if needed. When traveling overland, it is likely they went along a river, since rivers generally provide the best opening for large groups of people along its banks and through its passes in mountains.
    Still on this theme, another Theorists claims: “The text says nothing about herds or grain; presumably the people would prefer fresh sources of food from fishing.”
    However, this is simply unknown and cannot be determined from the scriptural record. Still, we can draw some tentative information from the condition of the people of Limhi, which Ammon helped lead back to Zarahemla, for they took: “their women and children, and their flocks, and their herds, and their tents, and depart into the wilderness” (Mosiah 22:2). It seems unlikely that those families heading to lands which were northward for resettlement would not have taken their flocks and herds with them.
    It is also unlikely that such people would not have taken grain with them to ensure a future food supply and source of food when traveling to an unknown land.
    It is unfortunate that when theorists begin speculating they tend to lose all sight of reality and begin tying to bend the scriptural record to their own views.
(See the next post, “The Land of Promise: An Understand of the Land – Part V,” for more on why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today)

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