Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the settlement of Polynesia. It has long been the standing of archaeologists and anthropologists that the south sea islands were inhabited by people from Asia moving across the South Pacific from the area of Indonesia toward the east. One of the fallacies ofthis movement is that all the winds and currents of the South Pacific belong to a overall South Pacific Gyre, which runs counter-clockwise around the southern latitudes of the ocean (they move clockwise north of the equator).
    Thus, the South Pacific Gyre is part of the Earth's system of rotating ocean currents, bounded by the Equator to the north, Australia to the west, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to the south, and South America to the east. This means that in the area of Indonesia, the Pacific Ocean currents run east to west, or against any movement from there into the Pacific.
    It must also be noted that ocean winds and currents are the most important part of sailing in ages past, before the invention of ships and sail arrangements that could sail close to the wind—or sailing in a direction close to that from which the wind is blowing, but still make headway.
Sailboat keel uses the forward motion of the boat to generate lift, which counteracts the leeward force of the wind and converts the inherent sideways motion of wind in the sails into forward motion

After all, if the wind was not blowing behind the vessel (“driven forth before the wind”), then the wind’s force would tend to move the vessel sideways—so modern sailing boats have deep keels (basically a flat blade sticking down into the water from the sailboat’s bottom, preventing ther vessel from being blown sideways and provides the ballast to hold the boat right-side up).
    The first islands to encounter eastward from Indonesia are the Melanesia group, a sub-region of Oceania, extending from New Guinea island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea and eastward to Fiji, which includes the four independent countries of: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, as well as the French special collectivity of New Caledonia and the Indonesian region of Western New Guinea.
In order for Polynesia to be expanded eastward from Asia, the movement would have to pass through Melanesia

The name Melanesia was first used in 1832 by Jules Dumon d’Urville, a French explorer, naval officer, and rear admiral, to denote an ethnic and geographical group of islands whose inhabitants were distinct from those of Micronesia and Polynesia. It should also be noted that the name Melanesia (Greek μέλας meaning “black,” and νῆσος meaning “islands”) etymologically means "islands of black [people]," and was so named in reference to the dark skin of the inhabitants. He did not include the islands of New Guinea because only some of its people were Melanesians.
    The point being that the indigenous people of the first islands encountered and all those between Indonesia and Polynesia, are black, whereas Polynesians are not. Yet, we are expected to believe that the same people out of Asia settled both areas, some becoming black and others not! In fact, DNA tests show that Polynesians are more closely related to Micronesians (far to the north) than to Melanesians, thus the claim is that Polynesians moved quickly through Melanesia, and did not leave much of a footprint in the land, while those who were Melanesians stayed in the land and settled. On such flimsy ideas are entire civilizations born in the minds of scientists.
    In addition, for some reason, the last place to be settled by this fast-moving Polynesian people was the closer island areas of New Zealand, hundreds of years after the settlement of far eastern islands of Easter Island. It is also theorized that the Polynesians for some unknown reason bypassed two major areas, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and leap-frogged over them into the far Pacific on their march across the ocean.
    There is also the knowledge that early Easter Islanders who were first encountered by Europeans, worshipped strange stone idols and Ra the Egyptian sun God. They also practiced an ancient birdman religion, a form of which is still found among the floating reed bed people of the Indus. They made reed rafts and they had a strange writing system akin to the ancient Harappa script.
The same type of carved and dressed stones found in Peru are also seen on Easter Island, especially the specialty cut stones to fill gaps

Most importantly, they made Peruvian style interlocking stone walls, and they had circular burial tombs called Tullpa, similar to the Chullpa tombs of Peru, and they both used the knotted cord called Quipu for memorizing information.
    The red haired Paracas mummies and numerous legends of Peru all indicate that red heads were once a significant part of the population in Peru. The brownish-red-haired, green eyed, Araucano (Gold people) of Chile were one population that survived the onslaught of the Incas. Numerous other examples of Peruvian mainland factors have been found throughout Polynesia over the years.
    Events that unfolded in Peru that led to the exodus of red heads into the Pacific can be read in the ancient Rongo Rongo text of Easter Island which was successfully deciphered in 1892 by Dr. Alan Carroll and describes the ancient history of Peru; however, this has not been accepted by mainstream science. Yet, his translation names the many tribes of Peru and their relationships with each other, their allies, their enemies and the wars fought that led up to the final exodus of the Puruha and Cha-Rapa people into the Pacific. His decipherment contains detailed information that would not have been available to him, unless he was reading it from an ancient source. Unfortunately, because this text did not say what the scientists wanted to hear, his valuable work and the Rongo Rongo text has been ignored.
    Rather than try and fit round pegs in square holes, as archaeologists and anthropologist often do when they try to explain away matters by ignoring the most common and simple answers, and instead insert complex ideas that support their theories, why not look at this from a realistic point of view.
Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America. But archaeologists have found prehistoric remnants of sweet potato in Polynesia from about A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1100, according to radiocarbon dating

As an example, considering the example of the Easter Island writing and histories, the existence of the sweet potato throughout Polynesia—a plant that was indigenous to Andean South America—and the matching chicken bones in South America and Polynesia, realize that moving with winds and currents (as did the Kon-Tiki expedition), man moved from South America into the Pacific Ocean to broaden their settlement opportunity. We see this in the Book of Mormon when one of Hagoth’s exceedingly large ships was used by immigrants to sail to an unknown destination (Alma 63:8). Since South would be ruled out because of it being under the control of the Lamanites, North was ruled out because other ships went in that direction and it was so noted, East was ruled out because they launched into the West Sea, so the only direction left would be West. And West of the Americas (Central and South America), lies Polynesia.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part I

Polynesia is a sub-region of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit these islands are termed Polynesians, and share many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs. The area is shaped somewhat like a large triangle, with Hawaii at the top, New Zealand to the southwest and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to the southeast.
The three cultural areas in the Pacific Ocean: Melanesia (black islands), Micronesia (small islands), and Polynesia (many islands)

In 1962, Apostle Mark E. Petersen stated: “As Latter-day Saints we have always believed that the Polynesians are descendants of Lehi and blood relatives of the American Indians, despite the contrary theories of other men” (Mark E. Peterson, Conference Report, April 1962, p1112). In 1971, Spencer W. Kimball said, “With pride I tell those who come to my office that a Lamanite is a descendant of one Lehi who left Jerusalem some 600 years before Christ and with his family crossed the mighty deep and landed in America. And Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, for in the middle of their history there were those who left America in ships of their making and went to the islands of the sea…they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand.
    Today we have many Lamanite leaders in the Church…The term Lamanite  includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people…There are no blessings, of all the imaginable ones, to which you are not entitled–-you, the Lamanites–-when you are righteous. You are of royal blood, the children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Lehi” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p7).
    In 1984, Apostle Howard W. Hunter stated: “It has been the position of the Church that Polynesians are related to the American Indians as descendants of Father Lehi, having migrated to the Pacific from America—our belief in this regard is scriptural—see Alma 63:4-10” (Howard W. Hunter, “Islands of the Pacific,’ Beneficial Life Insurance Company Convention, Waikokloa Hawaii, 19 July 1984 (in Clyde J. Williams, ed., The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1997, p57).
Left: Mark E. Peterson; Center; Spencer W. Kimball; Right; Howard W. hunter

There seems to be little question among past Apostles and Church Presidents that the Polynesians originated from Hagoth’s immigrant ships that traveled from east to the west into the Pacific Ocean from the Americas. However, despite such comments from these leaders, John L. Sorenson, in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p269, states “It remains impossible to demonstrate any clearcut connection between the two areas. Those who choose to believe Hagoth reached Polynesia must rely mainly on faith rather than on reliable evidence. The Book of Mormon itself, of course, says only that the man and his mates disappeared from the knowledge of the people in Zarahemla. For all they knew he might have died a ripe old age on the west Mexican coast without a suitable vessel in which to make the return voyage.”
    This illustrates one of the primary problems with theorists regarding their Land of Promise models—they build into their thinking and writing information not found or suggested in the scriptural record in order to justify and defend their models. As an example, there is no mention or even a hint of a suggestion that Hagoth went anywhere in his ships, or that he was lost at sea, or that the people in Zarahemla even knew about him, for he built his ships on the land between Bountiful and Desolation near the narrow neck of land (Alma 63:5) far from Zarahemla.
    However, that does not keep Sorenson, like most theorists, from building up a story that suits their narrative despite having no scriptural references to support it. In this case, the idea that Hagoth would be stranded somewhere and not have a “suitable vessel” to return home is, itself, ludicrous since Hagoth was a shipwright, talented enough to build exceedingly large ships—that is, he built ships for a living. Surely he could have built some type of vessel to return home in if he had become stranded somewhere; however, that is not the case since we know of no voyage Hagoth took, that he was lost at sea, or shipwrecked somewhere. The last entry of him in the record is “And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships” (Alma 63:7).
    Similarly, Rod Meldrum, of the Heartland theory, weighed into this type of deception, stating: “Some have claimed, incorrectly, that there is a scriptural requirement for a west coast landing.  However, nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that they sailed east in their ship or that they landed on the west coast of the promised land. This assumption is unfortunately based on a false report that Joseph Smith claimed that Lehi “…landed on the continent of South America in Chile, thirty degrees South Latitude” and has been thoroughly refuted by Church scholars” (Meldrum, “Lehi’s Voyage Demonstrated: Phoenicia Expedition,” June 3, 2018).
    Again, the problem with theorists is that they either give wrong information accidentally or deliberately. In this case, Meldrum made two important errors:
1. The assumption is based on Frederick G. Williams’ written message of a course that Lehi “sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chili, thirty degrees south latitude” (LDS Archive, Ms d 3408 fd 4). However, Williams never claimed it was a revelation from Joseph Smith, nor did Joseph Smith make any such claim—others later did, such as Parley P. Pratt in 1855 (Key to the Science of Theology, Liverpool, pp10-11).
In addition, Franklin D. Richards (left) also published this statement (Compendium of the Faith and Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, 1857, Liverpool, revised 1882), as part of the Lehi's Travels statement, attributing the quote to a "Revelation to Joseph the Seer," offering no facts to substantiate the claim. However, Williams claim to this knowledge was that he received it from an Angel who visited the Kirtland Temple dedication and sat between himself and Joseph Smith, Sr., a fact that others in the session publicly acknowledged during the meeting.
    It should also be noted that the idea of a west coast landing comes not from this source, but from the scriptural record and Mormon’s statement in his insertion that the Lamanites “were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28, emphasis added). This provides us with a location of their first landing, the first land of inheritance, which was on the west coast along the seashore.
2. What was refuted was that William’s written note was the recording of a revelation from Joseph Smith—not the course listed. That is, the fact of it being a revelation from Joseph was refuted by later Church leaders, such as B. H. Roberts, not the course Williams’ wrote down. Meldrum’s carefully worded comment makes it sound like the entire idea of traveling southeast and landing in Chile was refuted—that was not the case. The refuting was strictly of it being a revelation, which Meldrum deliberately does not clarify, making it sound like the entire idea was refuted, which again was not the case.
    It becomes obviously apparent, when studying the facts behind the many assertions that theorists make, to see that in many cases their claims are ill-founded at best, and often downright inaccurate, and at worse outright fabrications. Another example, of a definitive, but inaccurate statement is shown in An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp268-269, in which John L. Sorenson states that “the ‘ship’ of Hagoth if it was like craft known later on the Pacific coast, was either a very large dugout canoe with built-up sides or a log raft with sails. Whatever its form, it would hardly have been a complex planked vessel at all resembling European ships.”
    First of all, there is no way to make such a claim—no one knows what kind of ships Hagoth built, or what kinds of ships were known to the Nephites who were involved in “shipping and their building of ships” (Helaman 3:14). In fact, we have a very good example in the scriptural record of the size of such ships when it is stated: “the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings. And as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping” (Helaman 3:9-10).
How big would a dugout canoe have to be or a log raft with a sail have to be to transport timber to the Land Northward profitably?

Now, for shipping of timber to be of any value, and especially cost effective, and the extensive effort to cut, dress, load and transport timber by ship, the vessel would have to be quite large and capable of tonnage displacement in order to carry enough wood for the effort to be worthwhile. You don’t build things with a few timbers that could be carried in a dugout canoe, even a very large one. Thus, when it states that Hagoth “built an exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5), we need to consider that such a ship would have had to have been of some size to make shipping timber profitable and worth the massive effort.
    Thus, the idea that the Nephites used large canoes with built-up sides has no relationship to the scriptural record and Mormon’s statement about this endeavor—which must have been important enough for him to mention it at all.
(See the net post, “Was Polynesia Settled from South America? – Part II,” for more information regarding the settling of Polynesia)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Outstanding Achievement of Thor Heyerdahl and How it Changed the World – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the drift voyage of Kon-Tiki from Peru to Polynesia, and how survivability of food and water was achieved by the design and movement of the raft itself.
    When Heyerdahl first planned his drift voyage, he considered numerous methods to trap water and supplement their larder of food along the way. Modern science is just now beginning to prove both his methods and beliefs, which he used and reported being of great value to he and his crew on their Kon-Tiki voyage.
The Marquesas Islands where Fatu Hiva is the southernmost island of the archipelago which was formed by two volcanic craters

It is also of interest to know that when Heyerdahl first married, he and his wife spent their honeymoon and first year of marriage during 1937-1938 in the South Pacific, mainly on Fatu Hiva of the Marquesas in French Polynesia, supported by the Faculty of Zoology at the University of Oslo. While he and his wife, Liv, were disappointed on the paradise they expected to find on Fatu Hiva, their stay on this Pacific island was decisive for Thor’s future work.
    At the time of Heyerdahl reached Fatu Hiva, it was commonly believed that the islanders had originally arrived from Asia on a west to east movement across the islands (a belief still held by mainstream scientists). However, Heyerdahl discovered that the east to west ocean currents made it possible for people to have arrived from South America. This was also the story the elders on the island told the young couple nearly ten years before the Kon-Tiki voyage was undertaken.
    In addition, while fishing off the islands Heyerdahl noticed the distinct movement of the waves and currents, and from this began his interest in ocean currents. He learned from the natives that these currents moved between the islands and all basically moved from the east toward the west, which began his interest in the western ocean off the coast of South America.
On Ua Huka, near Hane—the oldest known human settlement in the Marquesas Islands—at one time considered to have been inhabited around 250 AD—are the large stone statues and remnants of me’ae and pae pae

Also, while on the island, Heyerdahl developed an interest in Pacific prehistory and the large Marquesan stone statues captured his imagination, as did stories told by Chief Tei-Tetua of his ancestors coming from a hot dry land in the East, led by Con-Tiki, the Creator God known also as Viracocha, the founder of civilization.
    He was later to find in Peru, confirmation of the legend of Con-Tiki Viracocha, the Supreme God and Creator of the Earth. As these legends conflicted with commonly held scientific notions that Polynesians island hopped from southeast Asia, Heyerdahl’s conclusions were unacceptable to and highly criticized by mainstream scientists. This led Heyerdahl on a quest for the truth about origins of the Polynesians, which lasted a lifetime.
    In his 1952 book American Indians in the Pacific, Heyerdahl came to the conclusion that Polynesians entered the Pacific from Peru. The pathway from Peru particularly interested him, because of evidence from preserved mummies, paintings and legends, it appeared that these people were red haired Native American Caucasians—a relic population of a forgotten past.
    Most other scientists would have no part in the notion that the Pacific was populated from America or that Caucasians were once a significant population of America. Instead, they came to the dubious conclusion that ancient pottery pieces, called Lapita held the key to Polynesian origins, as a trail of this unusual pottery seemed to lead from the west towards Polynesia, albeit stopping a little short. At the same time, and disappointingly for these mainstream scientists, Lapita ended 800 years before Polynesians even entered the Pacific, making a relationship between the two highly unlikely.
To get around this and many other discrepancies in their theory, Heyerdahl decided to put his life on the line to prove sailing from Peru to Polynesia could be done. After scrounging up from various sources a little over $22,000 for the journey, he then went searching for a few people to accompany him, placing an ad stating: “Am going to cross the Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come? Reply at once.”
    Once setting sail, they spent the next three months battling the dangerous weather and ocean swells, taunting sharks that swam close to their craft, and supplementing their provisions with various fish, which were reportedly, along with the sharks, the explorers’ near constant companions around the boat during the entire journey. They sent regular radio reports back to the mainland on their progress and Heyerdahl filmed sections of their voyage on his camera.
It is 4371 miles from Callao, Peru, to the Raroia Atoll; 4246 miles from Callao to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas; it is 461 miles from the Raroia Atoll to Fatu Hiva

On August 7, 1947, the Kon-Tiki had traveled nearly 4,300 miles when it finally hit a reef and forced the crew to land on an uninhabited island off of Raroia Atoll, in French Polynesia. They spotted shore about a week and 260 miles earlier at Angatau atoll, but were unable to steer into the Island to land safely.  Nevertheless, one hundred and one days after setting out from Peru, Heyerdahl proved that the nautical technology available to pre-Columbian Peruvians could have successfully brought them to Polynesia
    Heyerdahl claimed that in Incan legend there was a sun god named Con-Tiki Viracocha who was the supreme head of the mythical white people in Peru. The original name for Virakocha was Kon-Tiki or Illa-Tiki, which means Sun-Tiki or Fire-Tiki. Kon-Tiki was high priest and sun-king of these legendary "white men" who left enormous ruins on the shores of Lake Titicaca and throughout Peru. The legend continues with the mysterious bearded white men being attacked by a chief named Cari who came from the Coquimbo Valley. They had a battle on an island in Lake Titicaca, and the fair race was massacred. However, Kon-Tiki and his closest companions managed to escape and later arrived on the Pacific coast. The legend ends with Kon-Tiki and his companions disappearing westward out to sea.
    When the Spaniards came to Peru, Heyerdahl asserted, the Incas told them that the colossal monuments that stood deserted about the landscape were erected by a race of white gods who had lived there before the Incas themselves became rulers. The Incas described these "white gods" as wise, peaceful instructors who had originally come from the north in the "morning of time" and taught the Incas' primitive forefathers architecture as well as manners and customs. They were unlike other Native Americans in that they had "white skins and long beards" and were taller than the Incas. They also had Semitic facial features. The Incas said that the "white gods" had then left as suddenly as they had come and fled westward across the Pacific. After they had left, the Incas themselves took over power in the country.
    There are many scientific points that have been discovered and shown to verify Heyerdahl’s views that Polynesia was settled from Peru. However, old paradigms, those first decided by hypothesis from ancient information, seem hard to displace in modern times with much more information and a far clearer understanding of the past.
    Thor Heyerdahl was a man far beyond his time in knowledge of the settlement of Polynesia—his views were mostly scoffed at by the scientific community during his lifetime, but the more we learn the more his ideas are proving to be quite accurate.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Outstanding Achievement of Thor Heyerdahl and How it Changed the World – Part I

When the early Europeans began sailing around the world, one of the biggest problems they ran into was avoiding scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, and fatal, if untreated. It was first noted in 1550 BC, as a relatively rare and mysterious ailment, striking on land during long campaigns and overland journeys when fresh provisions failed. By the time of the Crusades, this “land scurvy” had become a curse in Egypt. As described in the twelfth century, “Soldiers with violent pains in the feet and ankles, their gums became swollen, their teeth loose and useless, while their hips and shin bones first turn black and putrefied that finally lead to an easy and peaceful death claimed them from their suffering.”
    It began with a general feeling of fatigue, followed by flagging spirits and then unbearable joint pain. While misdiagnosed and misunderstood, it took its toll on long marches of troops across vast deserts such as in Egypt or other areas, especially where citrus was unavailable for long periods of time. By the 13th century, during the 7th Crusade, Jean Joinville wrote: “the disorder soon increased so much in the army that the barbers were forced to cut away very large pieces of flesh from the gums to enable their patients to eat.”
The Age of Sail ushered in long sea voyages, sometimes taking several years sailing around the world 

At sea, scurvy set in on long voyages or when crews ran out of fresh food supplies. While the disease takes approximately six weeks to set in, on more than month long voyages, it struck down entire crews. There are stories of Spanish galleons found floating, staffed only by the dead. The disease was nicknamed “purpura nautica” for the purplish bruises that served as the first indication of its occurring.
    It has been estimated that as many as two million sailors died of scurvy between 1500-1800 AD, among those were Vasco de Gama in 1499 claiming 116 to 170 men. In 1520, Magellan’s round the world journey was wracked by scurvy, claiming most of the men not left to fend for themselves on a distant shore or killed by natives in the final battle. His voyage returned with only 18 out of the 230 men who originally set sail.
    As a result of this historical knowledge, most theorists claim that Lehi’s voyage had to have stopped off at various islands or ports in order to replenish food supplies and water. However, while this was a standard practice among European mariners during the Age of Sail, it was not the only way to deal with such matters, which included having sufficient Vitamin C on board a long voyage—for once the European mariners learned the cause of scurvy, means were developed to offset the danger by carrying fruit juices and citrus, such ass oranges, lemons and grapefruit on long voyages, and supplementing this with kiwis and guavas while at sea.
    In addition, theorists, by extension and not understanding the factors involved in deaths at sea on long voyages, believe that such voyages require stops for food period! However, that too, is a fallacy. It was Thor Heyerdahl, in the mid 1940s who understood how to compensate for acquiring food on such voyages, when planning his Kon-Tiki expedition. He set sail on the 28th April 1947 when Thor was 33, to prove to the world that long distance oceanic voyaging without any sophisticated equipment, and without planned stopovers for replenishment of food supplies, was possible. 
    In the 1940s among all anthropological scientists, as well as even today among a stubbornly large number, believed that all significant migrations of man around the planet occurred only by land, especially to the Americas over a route across a Siberian Land Bridge (even though the glacial dates now known do not support such a route). Thus, when Heyerdahl broke with tradition and suggested man arrived in the New World via ship, he was black-listed and ridiculed by other anthropologists.
The raft Kon-Tiki drifting with the currents from South America to Polynesia 

However, Heyerdahl believed that man had utilized favorable ocean currents and prevailing winds many times in the past, either for trade purposes or when unfavorable events such as war or natural catastrophes forced people to leave their homeland. While Heyerdahl proved his views through the Kon-Tiki expedition, his main value to the argument of immigration via boat has been seldom considered.
    The Norwegian adventurer and ethnographer with a background in zoology, botany, and geography, showed that slow moving sailing rafts would foster marine growth, creating their own ecosystem. Fish would shelter in the shadows of the hull and attract bigger fish, while birds would stop to rest in the rigging and would often find tasty morsels hiding amongt the weed growth along the waterline. This wide range of wildlife provided the hunter with a veritable larder of food during a relaxing sail down wind and down current.
    While the Kon-Tiki crew took provisions, they found it not difficult to also catch plentiful numbers of fish, particularly flying fish (left), “dolphin fish,” yellowfin tuna, bonito and shark. As Heyerdahl wrote of his voyage, “There was not a day on our whole voyage on which fish were not swimming round the raft and could easily be caught. Scarcely a day passed without flying fish coming on board of their own accord. It even happened that large bonitos, delicious eating, swam on board with the masses of water that came from astern and lay kicking on the raft when the water had vanished down between the logs as a sieve. To starve to death on such a drift voyage would have been impossible.”
    Obviously, this is something the Lord would have known long before Heyerdahl, and could well have instructed Nephi to incorporate a type of larder collection of his own on the design and construction of his own ship—after all, speed was not the essential ingredient, but sturdy and survivability. As long as Nephi’s ship was drifting with the current, fish would have been plentiful about his vessel.
Flying Fish were in abundance on board Kon-Tiki, easily caught and made for tasty eating 

The Exocoetidae are a family of marine fish in the order Beloniformes class Actinopterygii, known colloquially as flying fish. About 64 species are grouped in seven to nine genera and are found in all of the oceans of the world and are commonly located in the epipelagic zone, or top layer of the ocean to a depth of about 600 feet. While they cannot fly in the same way as a bird does, flying fish can make powerful, self-propelled leaps out of water where their long wing-like fins enable gliding for considerable distances above the water's surface. The Exocet missile is named after them, as variants are launched from underwater, and take a low trajectory, skimming the surface, before striking their prey. 
   Numerous morphological features give these flying fish the ability to leap above the surface of the ocean. One such feature is fully broadened neural arches, which allows a provides a rigid and sturdy vertebral column that is beneficial in flight, giving it aerodynamic advantages and increasing its direction in flight of about 160-feet, staying aloft for 30 seconds or more. Using updrafts and the leading edge of waves, can propel the flying fish over distances of up to 1300 feet at speeds of 40 miles an hour. It is typical for such fish to often accidentally land on the decks of smaller vessels.
    The point is, that these fish are everywhere, and often fly onto slow-moving boats and ships. In the case of Kon-Tiki, they often flooded the deck during its three-month voyage on the open sea, drifting at the mercy of the winds and currents. That the vessel eventually reached Polynesia proved that such drift voyaging was possible. It is also obvious that Heyerdahl’s drift voyage teaches us that Nephi would not have had to “island-hop” across the Pacific as so many writers theorize who do not understand the workings of the sea in such situations.
    In addition, water collection could have been accomplished in many ways, including chewing thirst-quenching moisture out of raw fish. And if the fish is large, it is a fairly simple matter to cut holes in its side, which soon become filled with ooze from the fish’s lymphatic glands—it does not taste all that good, but certainly quenches one’s thirst. 
   Again, it is obvious the Lord knows all such things and could have instructed Nephi on the mountain where he went often to receive special instruction of the Lord (1 Nephi 18:3). In addition, while we are just now beginning to understand the “rivers of the ocean,” that is the currents that move in the seas of the world, the Lord has always known, having organized them initially, and such instruction could simply have been where and how to find both food and water, the latter from capturing rain from squalls and storms at sea.
(See the next post, “The Outstanding Achievement of Thor Heyerdahl and How it Changed the World – Part II,” for more on the Heyerdahl Kon-Tiki voyage and how it changed our understanding of ocean voyages)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Columbus and the Taíno People of the Caribbean

When Nephi asked to have the same vision as that given to his father (1 Nephi 10:17), he was shown a broad visual history of the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 12:1-3), and eventually the final battle between his seed (Nephites) and the seed of his brethren (Lamanites), as well as the eventual occupation of the Land of Promise by the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:14). In the course of this vision, Nephi saw the lands of the Gentiles (Europe) and the many waters (Atlantic Ocean) that separated them from the seed of his brethren (Lamanites) in the Land of Promise.
Columbus aboard the Santa Maria, plotting his course across the “many waters” to the “seed of my brethren who were in the promised land”

He also saw a Gentile who was separated from the Land of Promise and who was guided by the spirit of God to go “forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12). Consequently, in knowing that this gentile Nephi saw in the vision was Christopher Columbus, then we can understand that the people Columbus first saw and met in the New World were the seed of Nephi’s brethren, or the Lamanites.
    According to the records of Columbus’ voyages, he first reached the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, when Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the Pinta, first sighted land—a small island that Columbus named San Salvador, though he learned later that the natives referred to it as Guanahani.
    While there is a debate regarding which island Columbus first made landfall between San Salvador, Samana Cay, Plana Cays or Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas, the point is these islands were occupied by a people at that time we call the Taíno. In fact, the Taíno were an indigenous people of the entire Caribbean, and at the time of Columbus, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the northern Lesser Antilles, making them the first New World people Columbus encountered.
Before reaching Cuba on October 28, Columbus made landfall on and explored five islands in the modern-day Bahamas

In his entire first voyage, Columbus stayed within the area of the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico—the entire area where the Taíno made up almost the entire population of those islands.
    It should be noted that the ancestors of the Taíno originated in the Andes of South America, and the Taíno culture as documented developed after reaching the Caribbean. Most scholars contend that the ancestors of the Taíno came from the center of the Amazon Basin, and are related to the Yanomama, a small tribe of indigenous people who live today in the Amazon rainforest along the border of Venezuela and Brazil, who call themselves the Yanomawi. They live in villages usually consisting of their children and extended families, and number between 50 and 400 people. In this largely communal system, the entire village lives under a common roof called the shabonos, which circles the perimeter of the compound, that is not fortified by palisades.
A common shabono-covered compound of Yanomami

When migrating into the Caribbean, the Yanomama first moved into the Orinoco valley on the north coast, and from there they reached the Caribbean by way of what is now Guyana and Venezuela into Trinidad. From there they proceeded along the Lesser Antilles to Cuba and beyond to the Bahamian archipelago. Evidence that supports this theory includes the tracing of the ancestral cultures of these people to the Orinoco Valley and their languages to the Amazon Basin (Lorena Madrigal, Human Biology of Afro-Caribbean Populations, Cambridge University Press, 2006. p122).
    In addition, there are those scholars who consider the Yanomami diffused from the Colombian Andes, through the Guianas and Venzuela into the Caribbean as well as Central America. In any event, the first people Columbus visited in the New World and throughout all four of his voyages, were basically people who originated in South America.
    Once in the Caribbean, the Taíno groups were in conflict with the Island Caribs of the southern Lesser Antilles. At the time of contact, the Taíno were divided into several groups. Western Taíno groups included the Lucayans of the Bahamas, the Ciboney of central Cuba, and the inhabitants of Jamaica. The Classic Taíno lived in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, while the Eastern Taíno lived in the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles.
    At the time of Columbus's arrival there were five Taíno chiefdoms in Hispaniola, each divided into two classes: naborias (commoners) and nitaínos (nobles), which were governed by male chiefs known as cacique (chief) through their mother’s noble line, and to whom tribute was paid. The Taíno name for Hispaniola was Ayiti ("land of high mountains"), which is the source of the name Haiti. Cuba at the time was divided into 29 chiefdoms, many of which have given their name to modern cities, including Havana, Batabanó, Camagüey, Bayamo, Taíno. Communities ranged from small settlements to larger centers of up to 3,000 people, and the overall population may have numbered 2 million at the time of contact.
    The nitaínos functioned as sub-caciques in villages, overseeing naborias work. Caciques were advised by priests/healers known as bohiques. Caciques enjoyed the privilege of wearing golden pendants called guanín, living in square bohíos, instead of the round ones of ordinary villagers, and sitting on wooden stools to be above the guests they received. Bohiques were extolled for their healing powers and ability to speak with deities. They were consulted and granted the Taíno permission to engage in important tasks.
The Taínos settled throughout the Caribbean, and occupied all the lands Columbus reached during his first voyage

The Taíno chiefdoms in the Caribbean were conquered by the Spanish in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, decimating the population—it is estimated that nearly 90% were killed, and by the end of the century they were considered extinct (Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange, Westport, 1972, p47).
    It is interesting that the Taíno made up the vast majority if not the complete number of indigenous people that Columbus visited in the islands and possibly Central America. At the same time, their ancestors, the Yanomawi, who came from the area of the Orinoco Valley in South America, happens to be the same area of South America where Columbus landed along the Paria Peninsula and sailed up the Orinoco River in northwest Guyana.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Another Look at Lehi’s People – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the size of the Lehi Colony and who were “Nephi’s People.”
    Perhaps to better understand Laman’s constant displeasure and threatenings against Nephi, we need tokeep in mind that the age and placement of the children in ancient Israel determined their rank within the family, with the eldest having the position of privilege and with it, the responsibility of acting for his father in the father's absence. That Nephi seemed to be favored by his father (2 Nephi 1:24), and obviously held the moral high ground (1 Nephi 7:20; 17:15), and, as the brothers thought, wanted to be a ruler over them (1 Nephi 18:10), he constantly rankled Laman, and by extension, Lemuel, who plotted time and again to take away Nephi’s life (1 Nephi 17:48; 18:11; 2 Nephi 1:24; 5:2).
    In addition, the ancient Israel family was meant to provide for its own perpetuation and to maintain an atmosphere of emotional warmth and stability for rearing children. The harmony of the home was necessary to provide a stable environment for its functions. Accordingly, in the Mosaic legislation a number of provisions were made to ensure this harmony and to circumvent rivalries that would endanger it and cause the home to break apart.
    So we return to the question of “were there any others” than the immediate family members? Besides “and also his household” mentioned earlier, we also find that “all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father” (1 Nephi 7:22).
    “All the house of Ishmael.” Again, the “house” or “household” in ancient Israel had a specific meaning—something Nephi would have known and understood when he wrote this—which at this time would have included servants and house slaves and sometimes their families. As an example, it never caused Nephi a moment’s hesitation to invite Zoram into the family even though he was a servant, and likely a slave bound to Laban.
    Though not generally understood by modern westerners, it was customary in the ancient Near East and for Hebrews to possess slaves, with large numbers as field hands or involved in domestic service. Hebrew law permitted Hebrews to buy both male and female slaves of foreign birth or children of resident aliens. Hebrews themselves could be enslaved to other Hebrews, but only temporarily (Exodus 21:2). When Hebrews were enslaved, it was usually because they or a relative had been too poor to repay a debt. Thieves who could not repay what they had stolen were also sold as slaves to compensate the victim. In fact, some Hebrews sold themelves into indentured slavery to pay off an expense, or to provide for future needs.
A wealthy Hebrew household of 600 BC would have had several house slaves, servants, and indentured domestic help to handle the affairs of the house and property

Domestic slaves were usually regarded as part of the family and were protected and cared for accordingly. There are even examples of slaves inheriting their master's estate or marrying into a family and gaining freedom as a result.
    Social cooperation among families in the clan (mispahah) was necessary for building and maintaining terraces to conserve the soil and reduce water runoff, for sharing a common water source (wells or streams), for constructing cisterns that retained water for the rainy season, for establishing and supporting the boundaries of fields, for harvesting of crops, for judicial settlements, and for a common defense. A network of mutual care was necessary for households to survive crop failures and food shortages caused by drought, blight, and disease. This network of care extended beyond individual levels to tribes and to the “sons of Israel,” whose marginal “poor” included Levites, widows, fatherless children, resident aliens, debt servants, slaves, and sojourners. (“The Israelite and Early Jewish Family” in Families in Ancient Israel, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 1997, pp169-170).
    Again, when the word household, and even family, is used in the Bible, it usually means either the clan or the extended family group, and includes not only parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc., but also the people who worked with and for the group, and their families as well. A ‘family’ could very easily include as many as fifty to a hundred people or more, as we see with Abraham.
According to Elizabeth Fletcher (left), author of Women in the Bible (1997), and who both taught and wrote textbooks on Religious Education, lists five additional “family” members of the ancient Israel “household”:
1. A free servant was paid in wages to perform specific tasks; free servants could be domestic servants or agricultural laborers;
2. A bond servant was contracted to work for a specific period of time;
3. A foreign slave had been captured in a war or a raid and was bought at market;
4. A ‘houseborn’ slave was born of a woman who was already a slave within the household;
5. A Jewish ‘debt’ slave was sold by their family to repay a debt; they were released on payment of the debt, during Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:39-43, 47-55) or after six years of service (Exodus 21:2-4, Deuteronomy 15:12).
    Since Lehi was a very wealthy land-owner (1 Nephi 2:4), it is likely he had servants of some type in his household, as well as those handling his property, crops, planting and harvesting. It may be just as likely that Ishmael was also well-to-do and had servants of his own, for he was capable of immediately moving into the wilderness, with tents, supplies, and animals of his own.
    If this were the case, we can assign between four and six servants to each family, which would include field hands as well, making the total of Lehi’s party about the 61 mentioned earlier, that reached Bountiful after their eight years in the wilderness. How long the party remained at this seashore camp is unknown, but to build a ship capable of carrying 60 to 80 or more people in at least nine different family groups (Lehi and Sariah with their two daughters; Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi; Zoram; two sons of Ishmael; and Ishmael’s wife) across the deep oceans, would have required at least a year, more likely two. This would be especially true considering that none of these individuals had ever before built a ship of any kind.
James Cook’s ship Endeavour, carrying 85 crew and officers in 1766 in the South Pacific

Thus, the Lehi colony in Bountiful, as they readied to board the ship Nephi built, would have numbered as many as 70 to 80 people, but certainly no less than 61. Which means that when Nephi separated from his older brothers, and took those who would go with him, he was taking somewhere from 30 to 50 people with him.
    By comparison, Columbus had 87 members of his crew combined on all three of his ships.; Magellan averaged about 55 crew members on each of his 5 ships; and 56 sailed on Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind. The crew of James Cook’s Endeavour in 1768 on his initial voyage numbered 85. The bark was 97-feet in length with a beam (width) of 29-feet, and measuring 366-tons burthen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Another Look at Lehi’s People – Part I

There has been much disagreement over how many were in Lehi’s party that boarded the ship Nephi built in Bountiful and sailed to the Land of Promise. Many theorists have limited this number to just Lehi and his six sons, and Ishmael and his 5 daughters and the latter’s families. We have repeatedly suggested there were more than this number.
    To determine this, we can look at both what the scriptural record shows, and what was customary in Hebrew homes in 600 B.C., to determine the possibilities. In the scriptural record, Nephi himself refers to their party not as his "family" or "families," but as "my people" (1 Nephi 9:2-4). It should be noted that Nephi was well aware of the separate families within those he called “my people,” for after reaching the Land of Promise or New World, Nephi's group separated themselves from the families of Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael. As Nephi stated: “Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me . . . (2 Nephi 5:6; emphasis added). In fact, from this point on, Nephi refers to all those who went with him as “my people” (2 Nephi 5:8,14-15,17,21,26,29,32-33; 11:1-2,4,6,8). And this continued throughout Nephi’s record: 1 Nephi 12:2; 13:15; 19:1,3-5,18; 15:5).
Therefore, one might ask, “Who are Nephi's people"? and Who is referred to by the phrase "all those who would go with me"? To answer this, we need to keep in mind the customs of Lehi’s day in ancient Israel. First of all, it would have been the norm for a wealthy man of Lehi's position to have had household servants and slaves. It is hard to imagine Lehi fleeing into the wilderness with only his immediate family members and, in essence, cruelly deserting his faithful servants in a city that was about to be destroyed. The real likelihood that Lehi took with him a large party provides a plausible explanation as to how the Lamanite and Nephi nations would become a large multitude so rapidly in the New World. It also settles the oft pointed out by theorists need for first cousins to marry among the brothers’ families, as has been proposed by some, though it was not an uncommon pr4actice in the Middle east to this day.
    Secondly, up to the last two centuries the names of women, children and servants were very seldom mentioned in literature. A review of the ancient scriptures reveals only a handful of names of women or servants. Thus, we should keep in mind that though Nephi was a prophet, he was also a product of his time. It would have never crossed his mind to have mentioned the names of his sisters (1 Nephi 5:6), the daughters of Ishmael, including the name of his own wife (1 Nephi 7:6, 16:7), let alone any servants and slaves.
    Another intriguing Near Eastern cultural example of this practice of literary exclusion is found in the writings of Michael Crichton. He placed in a novel format the manuscripts of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan's report to the Caliph of Baghdad in A.D. 922. Crichton writes:
    “Throughout the manuscript, Ibn Fadlan is inexact about the size and composition of his party. Whether this apparent carelessness reflects his assumption that the reader knows the composition of the caravan, or whether it is consequence of lost passages of the text, one cannot be sure. Social conventions may also be a factor, for Ibn Fadlan never states that his party is greater than a few individuals, when in fact it probably numbered a hundred people or more, and twice as many horses and camels. But Ibn Fadlan literally does not count slaves, servants, and lesser members of the caravan (Michael Crichton, Eaters of the Dead, The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922, Ballanltine Books, New York, 1976, p22).
Initially, the scriptural record sets the number in Lehi’s party at 51, which includes Lehi and Sariah [2]; Ishmael’s wife [1]; Ishmael’s two sons and their wives [4]; 5 children each for Ishmael’s sons [10]; Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi and Zoram and their wives [10]; 4 kids to each couple over 10 years, with 8 in wilderness, 2 years building the ship [20]; Jacob and Joseph [2]; Nephi’s sisters [2]—if Ishmael’s sons had more than 5 children each, the number could have been more).
    So, working with 51 people in the party (52 before Ishmael died), it should be noted that it is likely that some of the local people encountered along the Frankincense trail might have joined the Lehi and his party.
    In addition, it is also most likely that Ishmael had some servants in his “household,” and likely Lehi, since he was a wealthy man living outside Jerusalem. If each had five servants/slaves, which included household and field hands/servants, that makes a total of 61 or possibly more, since some, if not all, of these servants may have had families, again, not an uncommon event for the time.
    Thus, Lehi’s party at the time they sailed for the Land of Promise was at least 61 and could have numbered in the eighties.
    However, the question was raised whether or not there were “others” involved in the families that would have joined them on their journey away from Jerusalem. The only clue we have is that Nephi says that “And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us down into the wilderness to the tent of our father” (1 Nephi 7:5).
    In saying “household” and not “family,” there is some question whether or not others than Ishmael’s bloodline was involved, since “household” in Hebrew had a specific, larger meaning. According to Perdue, Blenkinsopp, Collins and Meyers (Families in Ancient Israel, John Knox Press, 1997), the idea of family in ancient Israel was a more expansive concept than our modern one—it existed at three basic levels:
• First, there was the bayit, or the household. This was similar to our nuclear family of parents and children, as well as multiple generations, but it also included debt servants, slaves, concubines, resident aliens, sojourners, day laborers and orphans. In its broadest definition, household would also include its servants (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Ed., Baker Books, 1996).
    In reality, the family was the unit of society and the individual found his place in society through the family and its extensions. Abraham tells us that there were 318 servants “born in his household” (Genesis 14:14). In addition, in ancient Israel large families were deemed necessary to conduct the family business, to provide for the parents in their old age, and to carry on the family name. As a result, the large family was regarded as a blessing from God (Exodus 1:21; Psalm 128:3).
Sons were especially valued (Psalm 127:3-5) to carry on the family name, though it is against rebellious sons, not daughters, that legislation was directed and proverbs were coined (Proverbs 20:20; 30:11,17 ). In fact, the father could sell his daughter as a servant or concubine (Exodus 21:7-11), or even pledge his sons as a loan guaranty, although these practices seem to have arisen more out of cases of economic necessity than from established custom (2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:1-5).
• Second, there was the mishpachah—a Jewish family or social unit including close and distant relatives. This unit would also be loosely referred to a clan and most typically in reference to residential kinship groups consisting of several households. In other words, the entire family network of relatives by blood or marriage, and sometimes close friends. Of the 12 uses of this word in Genesis, the entire spectrum from one family to all the families in included in its meaning.
• Third, there was the mattah, a branch or the tribe (as used in Exodus 31:2,6; and 140 times in the Old Testament), which consisted of many clans.
    In addition, there was polygamy among the wealthiest households, but it is not clear how extensive polygamy may have been practiced beyond these contexts. The Mosaic law permitted polygamy, but also defined its narrowest limits, but it was sanctioned by Jewish law and gave rise to many rabbinical discussions. However, it was not practiced among the vast majority of Hebrews at any time. Still, it was found among the wealthy who could afford many wives, and also the nobility of ancient Israel.
    Thus, the term family, can be viewed as concentric circles with the household at the center, the clan farther out, and the tribe existing out beyond the clan. But there is another dimension as well. As time went by, the ideas of clan, and particularly tribe, became somewhat fictive relationships without always having a strict biological connection involved.
(See the next post, “Another Look at Lehi’s People – Part II,” for more on the size of the Lehi Colony and who were “Nephi’s People”)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Understanding the Land of Promise – Part IV

Continued from the previous post regarding the points Mesoamericanists use to defend their Limited Geography theory for the Land of Promise.
    It is of interest to note that Near Eastern specialist William J. Hamblin, a professor of history at BYU and former board member of FARMS, states that “The Lord makes covenants with people, not lands. Lands are ‘promised,’ or better covenanted, to a people.” While that may be correct on the surface, or in a general way, we need to keep in mind that at least some lands are dedicated to a purpose and people are privileged to fulfill that purpose.
In this case, that land is used as a distinction from the separate this land, pointing to a certain thing separate from “this” thing, the latter being present in time or near in place. This land upon which we stand—that land to from which we came

Take the land generally thought of as the Land of Promise in the Western Hemisphere. We learn from Moroni: “After the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2).
    In looking at this simple statement, we find that”
• After the waters had receded off the face of this land implies a single area which was inundated with water, such as by a Flood, and as the waters receded, the land became a Land of Promise. This is what is unique about the Western Hemisphere, or North, Central and South America—when the waters of the Flood receded, an entire land was exposed. Not a portion of it, not a part of it, not a small section of it—but the entire land…this land…the land upon which there were no borders, not divisions, no separations. A single land. What was known until the 1940s, as a single continent, connected, inseparable.
• This land became a choice land implies that the Lord held all this land in a special category, one which the Creator designed separately, and would keep separate for his own purposes. Obviously, this was known from the  beginning and when this land was organized, it was formed with this land in mind, which was to play a significant role in the latter days.
Above all other lands implies that this land was unique to the Lord—one in which he had a special purpose for and would bring special peoples to live upon it from the rest of his vineyard. No other land anywhere would be as important, as capable and as successful in fulfilling the Lord’s purpose.
A chosen land of the Lord implies that this Western Hemisphere was designed from the beginning to be a land chosen above all other lands by the Lord. While there are problems in this land, they do not sink to the depths of the difficulties other lands have around the world. The Western Hemisphere is indeed a chosen land, with the United States governed by, and protecting all other nations here, the standard of liberty.
    It should also be noted that when the Lord promised the land of Palestine to Abraham, because it was only part of a land, he spelled out the dimensions or boundaries of that land promised, referring to the Mediterranean Sea, the Nile River, and the Euphrates River. However, in the case of the land promised to the Jaredites and later Lehi, there is no boundary stated—it was all of the land that was being promised—this land.
Upon this land would be the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land” (Ether 13:3). The prophet Moroni warned future inhabitants of this land: "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free…if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ" (Ether 2:12). This admonition applies to all lands that the Lord has promised to any of his peoples, and specifically this land, which is choice above all other lands.
    In fact, in 1831, through the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord promised to lead the Saints to a "land of promise" (D&C 38:18). Because of persecution by enemies and sin among Church members, Joseph Smith was unsuccessful in establishing a permanent community (D&C 101:1-8). After his death, the Saints migrated to the Rocky Mountains, "a land of peace" (D&C 136:16), and still anticipate fulfillment of the Lord's promises to open the way for building New Jerusalem in the designated place (D&C 42:9; 57:1-5; 101:9-22).
    In addition, we are told that this promised Land would not only be a “land of liberty” to the gentiles, but that there would be “no kings” upon it: “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 10:11).
    We also need to understand what that passage means, as on the surface level it would appear that only the United States fits this part of the promise—a land of liberty with no kings. There seems to be no question that the Lord’s hand was involved in the establishment of the United States and the freedoms — especially the religious freedoms — that are enjoyed here. Such a land was necessary for the restoration of the gospel, and to be a standard bearer for all other Nations in the western Hemisphere.
    Having noted this, however, there are a couple of important things to consider. First, Orson Hyde—an early Church leader and contemporary of Joseph Smith—quoted the above verse and claimed that “This land, means both North and South America, and also the families of islands that geographically and naturally belong and adhere to the same,” (JD 7:108). The phrase “this land” does not necessarily restrict the Promised Land to the United States. However, it should be noted that all lands in the Western Hemisphere were subject to kings at one time or another—even the Nephites had kings, as did the Lamanites and the Jaredites before them.
    The meaning of this is a little different than most tend to imagine. It was Jacob who said that if those who occupied this land remained righteous, they would continue to have religious liberty and that they would be protected against those who fought against Zion. Jacob’s point was that no other kings shall stand against the Nephites if they are righteous, for their true king is Yahweh who has promised to preserve them.”
Since there was no punctuation in the original writing of the translation of the plates, if the comma in this sentence was removed, it would read “…and there shall be no kings upon the land who shall rise up unto the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 10:11). Meaning, there would be no kings in the Nephite lands of promise that would rise up unto the Gentiles and against the Nephites or those enjoying the freedoms and liberties of this land.
    As the prophet Lehi put it: “We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed" (2 Nephi 1:5). Because the earth belongs to the Lord (Psalms 24:1), those who inherit a Promised Land must covenant to "serve the God of the land," who will then keep them "free from bondage, and from captivity" (Ether 2:12); otherwise they will "be swept off" (Ether 2:10; Deuteronomy 27- 28).
    Obviously, in this overall Land of Promise, there were certain areas dedicated specifically to proportional use, i.e., the land promised to Lehi was that area described within the scriptural record. That area dedicated to be the government of the Western Hemisphere, i.e., provide protection and control over the region was the United States, which also guaranteed a condition wherein the gospel could be restored. The Land of Promise could include a large area — or overall land of promise — as well as smaller sections of lands of promise in a larger area of promise. Thus the Book of Mormon can speak of lands of promise (2 Nephi 6:11, 9:2, 24:2).
    Obviously, then there is obviously more than one land of promise (because both the Old and New World covenant people had such lands). Secondly, the “promise” was given to the righteous people, not just anyone living there. Third, the actual land dedicated to, or promised to, a people could extend beyond the area they possessed. Thus, we find that during the last century BC, many Nephites decided to move into the Land Northward—an area they had not before been—“to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:30),  that is, to acquire lands that had been earlier promised to them.
    Thus we find that in the Americas, this land, the entire Western Hemisphere was set aside by the Lord as a land to be promised to those who would live righteously upon it. One such portion was given to Lehi and his posterity forever, provided they lived righteously—that land is described in the Book of Mormon by the prophet Mormon as to its location and general size. Other portions have been dedicated to other purposes, such as the Rocky Mountains for a land of peace and safety for the Saints. And another portion for the building of the New Jerusalem. We would do well to think of the Western Hemisphere as that land described by Moroni (Ether 13:2), and broaden our understanding of the workings of the Lord, rather than continue to think in much smaller areas, limiting the Lord’s involvement in this entire world.
The overall Land of Promise described in Ether 13:2

Rather than trying to limit the Land of Promise to a small geographical area, as Mesoamericanists and Heartland/Great Lakes theorists do, we need to think in terms of the overall promised land, not just that portion promised to Lehi and his descendants, but that land destined to fill a much larger role in the governance of the world—“a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord,” and “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity,” and “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:5-8).
    The Jaredites had a portion of this Land of Promise set aside for them, as later did Lehi and his descendants—while these lands overlapped one another, they were not both the same. Thus, we see that the Lord has an overall plan in mind and promised to his righteous followers portions of the most choice land upon the Earth.