Friday, November 20, 2020

Dillsboro's Very Own Mastodon

Long, long ago mastodons frequented the banks of the Tuckasegee River.  Or so suggests one old newspaper clipping.  But this discussion requires some background before we investigate the evidence found in Dillsboro, North Carolina.


First off, mastodons and mammoths were two distinct creatures.  Mammoths originated in Africa and migrated through Eurasia and North America.  The woolly mammoth, which went extinct about 10,000 years ago, was closely related to the elephant.

Mastodons lived in Central and North America before their extinction, also about 10,000 years ago.  Compared to mammoths, they were slightly smaller, with shorter legs and flatter heads.  They were anywhere from seven to fourteen feet tall and covered in long, shaggy hair.  Both animals were herbivores.

During the Pleistocene Era, 12,000 years ago, humans and megafauna (including mastodons) quite possibly encountered one another on the Great Smoky Mountains.  Though glaciers did not reach this far south, the climate was much colder than today.  The highest peaks must have been tundra-like environments with permafrost and few trees.  The fossil record reveals many large mammals inhabiting the park region prior to the Quaternary Extinction: Jefferson’s ground sloth, Harlan’s ground sloth, tapir, horse, half-ass, long-nosed peccary, flat-headed peccary, stout-legged llama, helmeted musk-ox, bison, white-tailed deer, caribou, elk, giant beaver, black bear, Florida spectacled bear, giant short-faced bear, cougar, jaguar, saber-toothed cat, scimitar-toothed cat, coyote, dire wolf and mastodon.

Spear-points found in this area indicate that migratory hunters came to this area in search of mastodons and other large prey.  A paleontological site near Nashville, Tennessee has provided abundant information about mastodon-hunting in the Southeast.  The Coats-Hines-Litchy site has yielded portions of four mastodon skeletons, one of which was directly associated with Paleoindian stone tools such as blades and scrapers, signs of a successful hunt on one day 10,000 to 14,000 years ago.


This brings us back to Dillsboro and the year 1882.  Construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad was underway and the “Cowee Tunnel” adjacent to the Tuckasegee River was posing many challenges for the convict laborers digging their way through the mountains.

An ominous note from “Sojourner” appeared in the September 18, 1882 issue of the Asheville Weekly Citizen:

I did not intend to convey the impression in my last letter that the entire Cowee tunnel had fallen in.  The workmen on the west end of the tunnel came to dirt, and it has fallen in several times. Mr. Dick Wilson says they are having much trouble in bracing it up, the dirt falls in so fast.  Many thousand yards of rock and dirt have been taken out, and some think the trees from the top will come through soon.  It is a serious drawback in the work on the tunnel, and there is some talk of having to make it a cut, but that seems impracticable.   If the dirt can be removed, and the hole walled in safely, the work will proceed on the tunnel as usual. 

The ”big” story coming less than six weeks later, was reported in North Carolina newspapers and reprinted in papers across the country:

The skeleton of a full grown mastodon has been found in the Cowee tunnel on the Ducktown branch of the Western North Carolina railroad.  When the monster was discovered the convicts fled in terror, and it was by hard work that they could be induced to return to their picks.  It was found six feet below the surface of the earth.  It was in a perfect state of preservation, and crumbled to dust as soon as exposed to the air.  The mastodon is the Russian term of fossil elephant, and is extensively found in Russia and all over Europe.  It became extinct, according to geology, near 10,000 years ago, died on the Pleistocene beds.  In 1799, one was found in the icy districts of Russia, the hide of which was in a fair state of preservation, and was of such weight that it took ten men to support it a distance of 150 feet.  The one found in the Cowee tunnel was stretched out a distance of forty feet – supposed to have been devoured by carniverous animals, and the bones disengaged from their original position.  The largest mastodons range from fourteen to twenty-four feet in length, and from nine to twelve feet in height.  - The Greensboro Patriot, Oct. 27, 1882  

The temptation is to dismiss the story as fake news, something too preposterous to be believed. 

Maybe so. 

On the other hand, as the earlier story reported, the tunnel was not cut through solid rock.  Is it plausible that an unfortunate mastodon, grazing alongside the Tuckasegee River on a chilly day 12,000 years ago, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was buried by a landslide? 

Perhaps.

Steam locomotive emerging from Cowee Tunnel, ca. 1892

But isn’t it almost too convenient that the bones of the Dillsboro mastodon practically vanished into thin air before the discovery could be verified?  It turns out that long-buried bones can crumble fairly quickly when exposed to the air.  That issue was broached in a 2017 newspaper report of mastodon bones unearthed at a Michigan construction site:

Eagle Creek Homes, the developer behind the Railview Ridge housing project, reached out to University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology Director Dan Fisher. Fisher has 40 years of experience investigating claims of prehistoric remains found in the region….

Most remains of mastodons and mammoths found in Michigan, Fisher said, are somewhere in the range of 11,000 to 15,000 years old.

"That was at a time that humans had found their way to North America," Fisher said. "These were some of the animals that they were sometimes lucky enough to bring down or otherwise get access to. So people butchered them, ate them and stored their meat."

As glaciers moved through Michigan several thousand years ago, they created lakes, ponds and swamps that became surrounded by vegetation attractive to the American mastodon and Jefferson woolly mammoth. Fossils of both are prevalent in the southern two-thirds of the state.

The age of the bones means they are often very fragile, and can sometimes disintegrate when exposed from the sediment that has been preserving them all that time.

"They dry, shrink, crack and sometimes they literally fall to pieces," Fisher said.


Those words from Dan Fisher go a long way toward erasing my doubts about the veracity of the Dillsboro mastodon story. 

But not completely. 

If workers actually found a mastodon skeleton in Dillsboro, why haven’t I heard about it until now?

One reason could be that the event was overshadowed by a tragedy that occurred two months later, on December 30, 1882.  As convict laborers were crossing the river to start another day’s work on the Cowee Tunnel, their barge capsized.  Nineteen men, shackled together, drowned in the Tuckasegee.

Is it any wonder that some crumbling bones of an ancient animals were soon forgotten?   On January 3, 1883, the News and Observer in Raleigh reported on the accident:

"A few days since we published an account of the trip of Governor Jarvis to the Western North Carolina Railroad, and gave an account of the operations at the Cowee tunnel, which is near the bank of Tuckaseegee River, in Jackson county. On that section of the road are employed about 200 convicts. Yesterday Lieutenant-Governor James L. Robinson, who came down from his home in Macon county, brought the news of a horrible disaster at the crossing of the Tuckaseegee River, the news of which he received from Mr. W.B. Troy, the officer in charge of convicts on the Western North Carolina Railroad.

" It appears that the camp of the convicts, that is, the stockade in which they are quartered, is on the bank of the Tuckaseegee river, opposite the Cowee tunnel. The river is at that particular point deep, with a current somewhat sluggish as compared with parts immediately above and below, where it breaks into rapids and rushes with the swiftness peculiar to those mountain torrents. The means of ferriage across the stream has been a large barge or flat boat, capable of containing fifty convicts, a rope stretched across being grasped by the hands and the boat then pulled over.

On Saturday, while thirty convicts were being thus transferred, they became alarmed on seeing some water and ice in the boat, and despite the fact that there was no danger, rushed panic-stricken to one end of the boat, which was at once capsized and all the men thrown into the cold river, there deep, though not more than fifty yards wide. A white guard who was on the boat went down with the rest.

A terrible scene followed, as the men struggled to get out, each man looking only after his personal safety. Many of the convicts swam ashore, or after being washed down a short distance reached the bank ere they came to the swift water. Twelve thus saved themselves, but eighteen clasped each other so closely that they became a struggling mass and were all drowned. The guard was taken from the water to all appearance dead, and it was only by dint of great and long continued efforts that his life was saved.

" The gang of convicts at this particular place, or rather section of the road was in charge of Mr. J.M. McMurray. Yesterday afternoon Capt. E.R. Stamps, chairman of the board of Penitentiary directors, left for the scene to make investigation of the disaster, which as, he state to a reporter, fairly appalled him. It was one of those accidents which seem to be unavoidable, and due to the sudden panic which seized the convicts in the boat, which it is said was in no danger of sinking, the water having fallen in it from the rains. Some of the drowned men were found some distance below, locked together in a last and fatal embrace. Many who could swim were hampered by others, who clutched them in a death grip.

"This is the greatest disaster that has happened on the road. A portion of the Cowee tunnel was of so treacherous a character that it caved in on a number of convicts, and they narrowly escaped death. The utmost precautions were used to prevent a repetition of the occurrence, an immense “cut” being made and arched over. The dirt was replaced, and all made secure. The tunnel is eighteen miles from the Balsam mountains, and thirty-four miles from Pigeon River, and is on what is known as the Ducktown branch of the Western North Carolina Railroad.

- News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), January 3, 1883

[Endnote - Though this is the first time I have written about the mastodon of Cowee Tunnel, I have posted several stories about the tunnel, including this one:  
https://gulahiyi.blogspot.com/2010/07/one-dies-get-another-part-three.html ]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Performance Art for the Pandemania Era

 To get the full effect, this video should be maximized so that the Orwellian English subtitles are legible.


To let die alone is charity

Freedom takes place in isolation

Thinking for yourself endangers the common good

Vaccination is charity

Avoid closeness forever

Sacrifice everything for hygiene

Protect your loved ones

Leave them alone

Separate yourself from the threatening ones

Protect the unborns – renounce their procreation

Betray your neighbours

Rule breakers against the wall

Offenders in solitary confinement

Mask obligation for a lifetime

Disenfranchise vaccination opponents

Submit to normality

Banish mask opponents

This is solidarity

Avoid contamination

Absolute sterility

Body contract creates suffering

Only loneliness is safe

Mask requirement for newborns

Our breath kills

Assured you are just in isolation

Be always obedient








Monday, November 16, 2020

"Crying Out in the Desert"

 “No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet now it is happening all over the world…” – Archbishop Vigano

I had seen short excerpts from Archbishop Viganò’s recent letter to the President, but that did not prepare me for the entire letter.  In clear language, Vigano outlines the “terrible plans” being carried out by “the forces of Evil.”  And he also delivers a message of hope for “the children of Light.”  This is a remarkable document.

OPEN LETTER

TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

DONALD J. TRUMP

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Solemnity of Christ the King

Mister President,

Allow me to address you at this hour in which the fate of the whole world is being threatened by a global conspiracy against God and humanity. I write to you as an Archbishop, as a Successor of the Apostles, as the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America. I am writing to you in the midst of the silence of both civil and religious authorities. May you accept these words of mine as the “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Jn 1:23).

As I said when I wrote my letter to you in June, this historical moment sees the forces of Evil aligned in a battle without quarter against the forces of Good; forces of Evil that appear powerful and organized as they oppose the children of Light, who are disoriented and disorganized, abandoned by their temporal and spiritual leaders.

Daily we sense the attacks multiplying of those who want to destroy the very basis of society: the natural family, respect for human life, love of country, freedom of education and business. We see heads of nations and religious leaders pandering to this suicide of Western culture and its Christian soul, while the fundamental rights of citizens and believers are denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman faceless tyranny.

A global plan called the Great Reset is underway. Its architect is a global élite that wants to subdue all of humanity, imposing coercive measures with which to drastically limit individual freedoms and those of entire populations. In several nations this plan has already been approved and financed; in others it is still in an early stage. Behind the world leaders who are the accomplices and executors of this infernal project, there are unscrupulous characters who finance the World Economic Forum and Event 201, promoting their agenda.

The purpose of the Great Reset is the imposition of a health dictatorship aiming at the imposition of liberticidal measures, hidden behind tempting promises of ensuring a universal income and canceling individual debt. The price of these concessions from the International Monetary Fund will be the renunciation of private property and adherence to a program of vaccination against Covid-19 and Covid-21 promoted by Bill Gates with the collaboration of the main pharmaceutical groups. Beyond the enormous economic interests that motivate the promoters of the Great Reset, the imposition of the vaccination will be accompanied by the requirement of a health passport and a digital ID, with the consequent contact tracing of the population of the entire world. Those who do not accept these measures will be confined in detention camps or placed under house arrest, and all their assets will be confiscated.

Mr. President, I imagine that you are already aware that in some countries the Great Reset will be activated between the end of this year and the first trimester of 2021. For this purpose, further lockdowns are planned, which will be officially justified by a supposed second and third wave of the pandemic. You are well aware of the means that have been deployed to sow panic and legitimize draconian limitations on individual liberties, artfully provoking a world-wide economic crisis. In the intentions of its architects, this crisis will serve to make the recourse of nations to the Great Reset irreversible, thereby giving the final blow to a world whose existence and very memory they want to completely cancel. But this world, Mr. President, includes people, affections, institutions, faith, culture, traditions, and ideals: people and values that do not act like automatons, who do not obey like machines, because they are endowed with a soul and a heart, because they are tied together by a spiritual bond that draws its strength from above, from that God that our adversaries want to challenge, just as Lucifer did at the beginning of time with his “non serviam.”

Many people – as we well know – are annoyed by this reference to the clash between Good and Evil and the use of “apocalyptic” overtones, which according to them exasperates spirits and sharpens divisions. It is not surprising that the enemy is angered at being discovered just when he believes he has reached the citadel he seeks to conquer undisturbed. What is surprising, however, is that there is no one to sound the alarm. The reaction of the deep state to those who denounce its plan is broken and incoherent, but understandable. Just when the complicity of the mainstream media had succeeded in making the transition to the New World Order almost painless and unnoticed, all sorts of deceptions, scandals and crimes are coming to light.

Until a few months ago, it was easy to smear as “conspiracy theorists” those who denounced these terrible plans, which we now see being carried out down to the smallest detail. No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet now it is happening all over the world, even in picture-postcard Italy that many Americans consider to be a small enchanted country, with its ancient monuments, its churches, its charming cities, its characteristic villages. And while the politicians are barricaded inside their palaces promulgating decrees like Persian satraps, businesses are failing, shops are closing, and people are prevented from living, traveling, working, and praying. The disastrous psychological consequences of this operation are already being seen, beginning with the suicides of desperate entrepreneurs and of our children, segregated from friends and classmates, told to follow their classes while sitting at home alone in front of a computer.

In Sacred Scripture, Saint Paul speaks to us of “the one who opposes” the manifestation of the mystery of iniquity, the kathèkon (2 Thess 2:6-7). In the religious sphere, this obstacle to evil is the Church, and in particular the papacy; in the political sphere, it is those who impede the establishment of the New World Order.

As is now clear, the one who occupies the Chair of Peter has betrayed his role from the very beginning in order to defend and promote the globalist ideology, supporting the agenda of the deep church, who chose him from its ranks.

Mr. President, you have clearly stated that you want to defend the nation – One Nation under God, fundamental liberties, and non-negotiable values that are denied and fought against today. It is you, dear President, who are “the one who opposes” the deep state, the final assault of the children of darkness.

For this reason, it is necessary that all people of goodwill be persuaded of the epochal importance of the imminent election: not so much for the sake of this or that political program, but because of the general inspiration of your action that best embodies – in this particular historical context – that world, our world, which they want to cancel by means of the lockdown. Your adversary is also our adversary: it is the Enemy of the human race, He who is “a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44).

Around you are gathered with faith and courage those who consider you the final garrison against the world dictatorship. The alternative is to vote for a person who is manipulated by the deep state, gravely compromised by scandals and corruption, who will do to the United States what Jorge Mario Bergoglio is doing to the Church, Prime Minister Conte to Italy, President Macron to France, Prime Minster Sanchez to Spain, and so on. The blackmailable nature of Joe Biden – just like that of the prelates of the Vatican’s “magic circle” – will expose him to be used unscrupulously, allowing illegitimate powers to interfere in both domestic politics as well as international balances. It is obvious that those who manipulate him already have someone worse than him ready, with whom they will replace him as soon as the opportunity arises.

And yet, in the midst of this bleak picture, this apparently unstoppable advance of the “Invisible Enemy,” an element of hope emerges. The adversary does not know how to love, and it does not understand that it is not enough to assure a universal income or to cancel mortgages in order to subjugate the masses and convince them to be branded like cattle. This people, which for too long has endured the abuses of a hateful and tyrannical power, is rediscovering that it has a soul; it is understanding that it is not willing to exchange its freedom for the homogenization and cancellation of its identity; it is beginning to understand the value of familial and social ties, of the bonds of faith and culture that unite honest people. This Great Reset is destined to fail because those who planned it do not understand that there are still people ready to take to the streets to defend their rights, to protect their loved ones, to give a future to their children and grandchildren. The leveling inhumanity of the globalist project will shatter miserably in the face of the firm and courageous opposition of the children of Light. The enemy has Satan on its side, He who only knows how to hate. But on our side, we have the Lord Almighty, the God of armies arrayed for battle, and the Most Holy Virgin, who will crush the head of the ancient Serpent. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Mr. President, you are well aware that, in this crucial hour, the United States of America is considered the defending wall against which the war declared by the advocates of globalism has been unleashed. Place your trust in the Lord, strengthened by the words of the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). To be an instrument of Divine Providence is a great responsibility, for which you will certainly receive all the graces of state that you need, since they are being fervently implored for you by the many people who support you with their prayers.

With this heavenly hope and the assurance of my prayer for you, for the First Lady, and for your collaborators, with all my heart I send you my blessing.

God bless the United States of America!

+ Carlo Maria Viganò

Tit. Archbishop of Ulpiana

Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Cumorah Revisited

Charles Augustus Shook (1876 – 1939) was raised in the LDS church, and he was fascinated by the elaborate stories of America’s ancient inhabitants, as depicted in the “Book of Mormon.”


Serpent Mound in Ohio

By the age of 24, his interest in archaeology and ethnology had only grown.  But Shook had a problem:  the stories in the Book of Mormon did not square with what he was learning about America’s distant past:

As I entered deeper and deeper into the study… and as discrepancy after discrepancy between the claims of the Book of Mormon and the facts of science were discovered, I became more and more surprised that this ground had not been more thoroughly worked by the anti-Mormon polemic before, while I became more and more convinced that in the data acquired by archæological and ethnological research the opponent of this system has a mass of evidence which, if rightly used, will completely demolish the claim of the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon.

For the last half century, at least, the Mormons have put out works on American archæology, but most of these have been mere collations of passages from scientific writers, taken here and there without a consideration of the context and often so arranged as to give an entirely different impression to the reader than their authors sought to convey. My plan has been to state fairly the Book of Mormon, or the Mormon, position on a certain point, and then to refute it by bringing to bear against it the latest and best authority obtainable….

His investigation resulted in the 1910 book, Cumorah Revisited: Or, "The Book of Mormon" and the Claims of the Mormons Re-examined from the Viewpoint of American Archeology and Ethnology.

Shook begins with a review of the controversial authorship of the Book of Mormon and summarizes the book’s account of America’s earliest inhabitants.  (Regarding “Cumorah” in the title of Shook’s book, the name as used in the Book of Mormon refers to a hill and surrounding area where the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place, resulting in the annihilation of the Nephite people.  A common assumption among the faithful is that the angel Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried other plates, equating Cumorah Hill near Palmyra, New York with the Book of Mormon Cumorah.)


Cumorah Hill in New York

Shook proceeds with what is a very readable and engaging synthesis of the archeological evidence and interpretations of his day, which uniformly contradicted the stories found in the Book of Mormon.

Of particular note is discussion of the Cherokees’ origins and their possible involvement in mound construction in the Ohio Valley.   While the Southeast contained some reminders of mysterious long-ago times (most notably the Etowah Mounds near Cartersville, GA) the Ohio Valley was generously peppered with earthworks and burial sites that continue to raise more questions than answers.

Shook describes a prevalent theory that the Tallegewi Indians were predecessors to the Cherokees and engaged in building mounds and effigies in the Ohio Valley until an invasion by the Lenape people (also known as Delawares).  The Lenapes prevailed and sent the Tallegewi southward to the region of North American where their descendants would eventually be identified as “Cherokees.”

We come now to the State of Ohio, which bears evidence of supporting a denser Mound Builder population than any other State, perhaps, in the Union….   

Professor Thomas is of the opinion that the earthworks of that State were the joint work of the Cherokees, Shawnees and some few other Indian tribes, and this seems to agree best with the facts as they have been brought out by traditional, historical and archæological researches.

Then, as now, the shapes of skulls found among ancient human remains provided clues to the migration of people from continent to continent:

It has been ascertained that the State was anciently inhabited by two hostile, savage tribes, the dolicocephali of the Muskingum Valley and the brachycephali of the valleys of the Miami and the Scioto. These tribes were the Ohio Mound Builders. The attempt has been made to trace a connection between them and historic tribes, and a few clues have been found which seem to indicate that the long-heads were the Cherokees and the shortheads the Lenapes and Hurons. The stock which formerly inhabited the valleys of the Miami and the Scioto bore unmistakable osteological affinities to the stonegrave people of Tennessee, and, as the Shawnees who inhabited that State buried their dead in stone graves, it is inferred that they were one with its ancient inhabitants and also of the same race with the ancient inhabitants of the Miami and Scioto Valleys, as they, too, buried their dead in the same kind of sepulchres. Therefore Professor Thomas concludes that both Fort Ancient and Fort Hill were erected by this tribe.   -“Cherokees in Pre-Columbian Times,” p. 79.

The evidence connecting the Cherokees with the other stock is very strong. According to the Delaware tradition, obtained by Heckewelder, the Delawares (who were originally one with the Shawnees and Mohicans) came from the far western part of the continent. After a very long journey they arrived at the river called the Naemaesi Sipu, where they met the Mengwe, or Hurons, who had also left their old country for a new. The Lenape spies, who had been sent ahead, returned from the land beyond the river and reported that the country was inhabited by a very powerful and industrious people called by themselves Talligeu, or Tallegwi, who had regular fortifications and intrenchments. The Lenape, after hearing this report, sent a messenger to the Tallegwi requesting permission to settle in their country. This was promptly refused, but they were given permission to pass through and seek a home to the eastward. After the messenger returned, the Lenape made preparations and began to cross the river, when the Tallegwi treacherously fell upon them, slew a great number and drove the rest back. Fired at this treachery, they called a council of their chief men to decide upon what was best to be done, to retreat as cowards or to fight it out as men. At this juncture the Mengwe, who had heretofore taken no part in the matter, offered to join them, upon condition that they would divide the country with them after it had been conquered. The proposal was gladly accepted, and  the two joined forces against the original inhabitants. The war, which was long and bloody, resulted favorably to the allies, and the Tallegwi were driven from the land and were forced to flee toward the south, while the victors divided the land between them, the Mengwe taking the northern part along the lakes and the Lenape the southern part along the Ohio River.

That the Tallegwi were the Mound Builders there seems to be no reasonable doubt, and some have seen in them, at their expulsion, the migrating Toltecan hordes pouring down from the regions of the north into Mexico. But later students have generally given up this theory, and many, for several reasons, identify them with the Cherokees, who at the time of the early settlement of the country were living in Tennessee, North Carolina and adjacent territory.

One of the most weighty reasons for connecting the Tallegwi with the Cherokees is their name. The former are variously called in the traditions Allegewi, Tallegewi, Tallegwi, Tallegeu and Tallike. The Cherokees were first called "Chelaques” and “Achelaques" by the historians of De Soto's expedition. The French called them “Cheraqui.” And the name as we have it was first used in 1708. The name that they give themselves is “Tsalagi” in their Middle and Western dialects and “Tsaragi” in their Eastern. The reader will observe that there is close agreement in sound between Tallike, the name of the ancient Mound Builders of Ohio, and Tsalagi, the name that the Cherokees give themselves. "Name, location and legends,” says Brinton, "combine to identify the Cherokees or Tsalaki with the Tallike; and this is as much evidence as we can expect to produce in such researches.”—Walam Olum, p. 231.

Another reason for identifying the Tallike with the Cherokees is that their language points to the north for its derivation; it is an offshoot of the language of the Huron-Iroquois stock. “Linguistically,” says Mooney, "the Cherokee belong to the Iroquoian stock, the relationship having been suspected by Barton over a century ago, and by Gallatin and Hale at a later period, and definitely established by Hewitt in 1887. While there can now be no question of the connection, the marked lexical and grammatical differences indicate that the separation must have occurred at a very early period.”— Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p. 16.

We have already seen that the Cherokees were Mound Builders and that they claimed to have built the mounds on Grave Creek, West Virginia, which include one of the largest burial-mounds in the country, whose dimensions are one thousand feet in circumference by seventy-five feet high. The traditions of other tribes sustain this tradition. Mooney says of the Wyandots: "The Wyandot confirm the Delaware story and fix the identification of the expelled tribe. According to their tradition, as narrated in 1802, the ancient fortifications in the Ohio Valley had been erected in the course of a long war between themselves and the Cherokees, which resulted finally in the defeat of the latter.”—Ibid, p. 19.

And Prof. John Fiske writes: “The Cherokees were formerly classed in the Muskoki group, along with the Creeks and Choctaws, but a closer study of their language seems to show that they were a somewhat remote offshoot of the Huron-Iroquois stock. For a long time they occupied the country between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, and probably built the mounds that are still to be seen there. Somewhere about the thirteenth or fourteenth century they were gradually pushed southward into the Muskoki region by repeated attacks from the Lenape and Hurons. The Cherokees were probably also the builders of the mounds of castern Tennessee and western North Carolina. They retained their moundbuilding habits sometime after the white man came upon the scene.”—The Discovery of America, Vol. I., p. 145.

From the foregoing facts it seems highly probable that the Cherokees were the Tallegwi, and that they, with the Lenapes and Hurons, were the Mound Builders of Ohio.

Thomas attributes the mounds of the various sections of the United States to the Indian tribes as follows: “The proof is apparently conclusive that the Cherokee were mound builders, and that to them are to be attributed most of the mounds of east Tennessee and western North Carolina; it also renders' it probable that they were the authors of the ancient works of the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia. There are also strong indications that the Tallegwi of tradition were Cherokee and the authors of some of the principal works of Ohio. The proof is equally conclusive that to the Shawnee are to be attributed the box-shaped stone graves, and the mounds and other works directly connected with them, in the region south of the Ohio, especially those of Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Georgia, and possibly also some of the mounds and stone graves in the vicinity of Cincinnati. The stone graves in the valley of the Delaware and most of those in Ohio are attributable to the Delaware Indians. There are sufficient reasons for believing that the ancient works in northern Mississippi were built chiefly by the Chickasaw; those in the region of Flint River, southern Georgia, by the Uchee; and that a large portion of those of the Gulf States were built by the Muskokee tribes. The evidence obtained is rendering it quite probable that the Winnebago were formerly mound builders and the authors not only of burial tumuli, but also of some of those strange works known as “effigy mounds,' so common in Wisconsin. That most of the ancient works of New York must be attributed to the Iroquois tribes is now generally conceded.”—Work in Mound Exploration, p. 13.

Now, to sum up: The Mound Builders were not the Jaredites and Nephites, because they were one people, were divided into numerous independent tribes, came from the north or northwest, began and ended their work too late, were of an inferior culture, and are identified with existing tribes by traditional, historical and archæological evidences. The theory of the Book of Mormon, then, that the United States was the seat, in ancient times, of a “wonderful civilization” which “had its base and origin in Central America and Mexico," is wholly a creation of the fancy and unsupported by the facts.

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Standing Against Equality

"Setting the wisdom of thousands of years aside is a revolutionary act and deserves to be acknowledged as such." - Rev. Ben Johnson

Forget “equality.” Today’s demand is for “equity.” The words sound so similar that casual listeners might think they are synonymous. But that is hardly the case.

Rev. Ben Johnson of the Acton Institute distinguishes the easily overlooked differences between the two words:

With 48 hours to go before the 2020 election, the Biden campaign unveiled a rare, cogent glimpse into its philosophy and plans should it prevail. Naturally, it did not come from Joe Biden but from an animated video narrated by Kamala Harris titled “Equality vs. Equity.” The ticket made the unusual decision to close its campaign by taking a firm stance against equality.


On Sunday, Harris tweeted out a video showing a white mountain climber beginning well above a black mountain climber, as Harris explains:

So, there’s a big difference between equality and equity. Equality suggests, “Oh, everyone should get the same amount.” The problem with that: Not everybody’s starting out from the same place. So, if we’re all getting the same amount, but you started out back there and I started out over here, we could get the same amount, but you’re still going to be that far back behind me. It’s about giving people the resources and the support they need so that everyone can be on equal footing, and then compete on equal footing. Equitable treatment means we all end up at the same place.

Everything is wrong with that summary, including the grating choice to begin a sentence with the conjunction “so.” Harris explicitly endorses equality of outcome over equality of opportunity, mangling the definition of the term along the way. Equality does not mean giving every person “the same amount.” Senior citizens do not receive the same amount of Social Security. In a just society, each person receives precisely what his or her actions deserve. Harris’ view of equity erases the human person from the equation, drowning him in an impersonal, impermeable, and all-encompassing group identity.

Harris’ discourse also leaves another reality unspoken: To bring people of two different levels to the same result, you must treat them unequally. You must apply different standards to their actions. You must disregard justice and believe that the ends justify any means. Others have said this explicitly. Much of Harris’ definition of equity is plagiarized from the popularizers of critical theory. Chief among these is Ibram X. Kendi, who explained his vision for creating “equity” in his bestseller, How to be an Antiracist:

[R]acial discrimination is not inherently racist. The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached. The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.

This is the concrete reality hidden within Harris’ theoretical musings. Kamala Harris’ view of “equity” over “equality” necessarily entails “future discrimination.”

There are at least three problems with the Harris/Kendi promise of George Wallace-style discrimination forever. First, people innately reject unfair means, not unequal outcomes. Second, it would transform the U.S. form of government without putting the notion to a referendum before the voters. Third, it violates the Bible’s definition of justice.

Studies have shown that people do not object if individuals “end up at the same place,” provided that they decided to walk a different path. A study published in Nature Human Behavior in April 2017 found “that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality.” Children as young as six responded that if two children both clean their room, they should receive identical rewards – unless they did not make an identical effort. “[W]hen one recipient has done more work, six-year-olds believe that he or she should receive more resources, even if equal pay is an option,” researchers found. In fact, “when faced with the communist ideals of the former USSR,” widespread “concerns about fairness lead to anger about too much equality.” They concluded that “policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.”

Second, institutionalizing equality of outcome would necessarily transform America from a limited government dedicated to preserving unalienable rights into an omniscient numbers-cruncher. It would replace blind justice with a statue of lady justice constantly peeking over her mask to observe the parties’ race, sex, sexuality, gender identity, income, and membership in an ever-growing host of protected (read: favored) cohorts. As Thomas Klingenstein, who is president of the Claremont Institute, has said in a viral speech, any government based on the views of the Black Lives Matter organization:

is built on group rights and identity politics. Government’s role is to ensure that all groups have equal wealth and power. This requires both a massive redistribution of wealth and power and new principles and values. As is patently clear, this new society can only be imposed by a tyrannical government.

Kamala Harris would replace the U.S. Constitution with a bureaucratic system of racialized Rawlsianism.

Finally, the idea of jettisoning equality should disturb religious believers at a deeper and more profound level. The Judeo-Christian tradition, which forms the bedrock of Western civilization, holds that God ordained equal justice based on an individual’s behavior, not his or her victim status or affiliation. Scripture rings with God’s instructions to judges not to be respecters of persons when wielding the gavel.

This wisdom became fused into the West’s DNA. “Justice by its name implies equality,” wrote Thomas Aquinas, who ranked justice as the “foremost among all the moral virtues.” That equality demands equal justice under law.

Roman Catholic social teaching defines true equality as equal dignity, equal standards – and unequal outcomes. “In accordance with the teachings of the Gospel, the equality of men consists in this: that all, having inherited the same nature, are called to the same most high dignity of the sons of God,” wrote Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical “On Socialism” (Quod Apostolici Muneris, 1878). “[E]ach one is to be judged by the same law and will receive punishment or reward according to his deserts.” While proponents of wealth redistribution may “argue that … the property and privileges of the rich may be rightly invaded, the Church, with much greater wisdom and good sense, recognizes the inequality among men, who are born with different powers of body and mind – inequality in actual possession, also – and holds that the right of property and of ownership, which springs from nature itself, must not be touched and stands inviolate.”

The Western tradition chooses equality of opportunity over equality of outcome. Setting the wisdom of thousands of years aside is a revolutionary act and deserves to be acknowledged as such.


- Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.