|Kansas City, Missouri Temple|
I don't talk much about work on the blog but this is another case with a news release from an official agency so I'm not revealing any confidences. I worked on the case for some years assisting EPA and the US Department of Justice in addressing issues relating to federal jurisdiction as we considered the location of the alleged violations to be within Indian Country on the old Uncompahgre Reservation in eastern Utah. As a part of that work, I spent a few days with opposing counsel reviewing historical records maintained in Lenexa, Kansas. That gave me my first opportunity to visit Mormon historical sites in Missouri, which I did every evening rushing out as the records center closed.
I also don't talk much about the Native American people I work with as an attorney for the Department of the Interior including the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The complex religious meaning of the people of the Book of Mormon as among the ancestors of the native peoples of the Americas is one of those faith issues that is separate from government work - separation of church and state and all. And for a good explanation on some of the controversies surrounding Mormons and Native Americans, I refer you here.
What I want to explain is that Mormon beliefs relating to a physical Zion as a center place for the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ originate in a revelation to Joseph Smith identifying it would be "on the borders by the Lamanites" (D&C 28:9). This was understood to mean the Native Americans who were, at least in part, descended from the people of the Book of Mormon. In Joseph Smith's day, the geographical line now constituting the boundary between the current states of Missouri and Kansas was the boundary between the United States and unorganized Indian Territory. A later revelation specified the center place of Zion as Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. (D&C 57).
|Mormon Historical sites in Missouri showing Indian Territory boundary of the 1830s|
from Maps and Index of Place Names at LDS.org
And there I was, touring Mormon historical sites in the evening after spending my days underground with over 200 years of Indian records. Maybe the border by the Lamanites is not just the old Indian Territory line, but the line between above and below the earth. Once again, a line between the living and the dead. Voices from the dust, indeed!
| Me (above ground) behind the LDS Visitors Center in Independence, Missouri, 2009|
Note wide expanse of undeveloped land part of the original "Temple Lot"