Saturday, October 15, 2011

Could The Great Lakes People Have Built Great Cities?

The Jaredites in the Land Northward left the remains of their magnificent cities, described as “covered with ruins of buildings of every kind” (Mosiah 8:8). In addition, great cities were built among the Nephites and Lamanites. “Now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem” (Alma 21:2). Zarahemla is referred to as a great city (3 Nephi 8:24), the city of Ammonihah was called a great city (Alma 9:4), and Moronihah was called a great city (3 Nephi 8:25). The Lord himself used the term great cities, describing Zarahemla (3 Nephi 9:3), Moroni (3 Nephi 9:4), Moronihah (3 Nephi 9:5), and Jacobugath (3 Nephi 9:9).

In defining the term “great city” as used by Joseph Smith in the translation, the word “great” means “large in bulk or dimensions, beyond what is usual, extended in length or breadth.” The word “city” is defined as “a large number of houses and inhabitants.” Thus, we might say many of the cities in the Land of Promise were “large, beyond what is usual, houses and inhabitants extending across a great length and breadth” of the land.

In addition, from the very beginning, Nephi taught his people “to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15). About 400 years later, king Noah “built him a spacious palace“ (Mosiah 11:9) among other buildings and towers in the same city area. Nephi also built ”a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16).

Note that the manner of construction was the same, and the temple of Solomon was built out of hewn stone.

“Thus is seems only reasonable to believe that wherever the Land of Promise was, remnants of buildings and cities of great size, would still be evident. And such ruins of cities, temples and palaces are found in both Mesoamerica and the Andean area of South America. However, no such construction of any similar kind is found anywhere in the eastern United States, the Great Lakes or Heartland areas. In fact, from a Book written in 1915 about the dawn of history and the chronicles of aboriginal development in the Great Lakes Region, comes this description of the indigenous Indian of that area.

“The great red race which inhabited what is now the Great Lakes region, spent a primitive existence, living thinly scattered along the sea-coast, and in the forests and open glades of the district of the Great Lakes, or wandering over the prairies of the west. In hardly any case had they any settled abode or fixed dwelling-places. The Iroquois and some Algonquins built Long Houses of wood and made stockade forts of heavy timber. But not even these tribes, who represented the furthest advance towards civilization among the savages of North America, made settlements in the real sense. They knew nothing of the use of metals. Such poor weapons and tools as they had were made of stone, of wood, and of bone.”

Compare that with the highly advanced indigenous “Indians” of Mesoamerica—the Aztecs, of Mexico and the Mayan of Guatemala—and the Inca of the Andean area, at the time of the European arrival. Their achievements in construction, roads and cities are among some of the finest pre-history developments in the world. What we find in the Great Lakes region are burial mounds, trenches, and earthen bulwarks.

The question asked originally, “Could The Great Lakes people have built great cities?” seems obviously answered. The evidence of remains and noticeable lack of such accomplishment seems overwhelming against such an ability.

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