Approaching Antiquity : Joseph Smith and the Ancient World
Religious Studies Center, BYU
After Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, a record of the "ancient inhabitants of the Americas," Smith and his followers attributed most of the Native American artifacts they found to the peoples described in this book. When Smith and some of his followers passed through Illinois, they found the skeletal remains of a Lamanite warrior named Zelph, which was embedded with an arrowhead. In Missouri, Smith wrote in his journal about a "Nephitish" altar and tower they discovered. Native American artifacts were often used to bolster claims of the Book of Mormon's historicity, as seen in editorials published in the Latter Day Saint newspaper Times and Seasons during Smith's time. Finally, this chapter describes Joseph Smith and Parley Pratt's interactions with the Kinderhook Plates.