The Iroquois, who claim New York is their ancestral homeland, provide the clearest link to the Lamanites of Nephite times. They are now believed to have developed from the ancestral Point Peninsula populations living in New York around 600 B.C., into the later Owasco culture, and ultimately into the Iroquois. Francis Parkman R. said of the Iroquois:
“Their war parties roamed over half America and their name was a terror from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.”
Thus, it appears the Lamanites retained the same dispositions as their forefathers who wiped out the entire Nephite population around the Hill Cumorah centuries earlier, leaving the Lamanites in sole possession of New York where they remained under various cultural designations until the time of European contact. While most moved into various other regions where they picked up different cultures and dialects, many of them coalesced with their kin again in the Finger Lakes region of New York (The Land of Many Waters) where archaeological evidence indicates they existed as a combined force as early as 1000 A.D. Then, sometime between the 14th and 16th century, or earlier, they formed a League which has come to be known as the Five Nations of the Iroquois, and later, when the Tuscarora were added, the Six Nations.
The Iroquois League of Nations was formed by two men, Deganawida, or the Great Peacemaker, and Hiawatha who brought together the squabbling Iroquois in what is called the Great Law of Peace. With the restoration of the gospel only a few centuries away, more work had to be done to prepare the Promised Land for the rise of the new Gentile Nation, a nation which had to be founded upon the principles of equality and justice so that the Restoration could take place. Thus, through inspiration, the Lord raised up one Hiawatha, a great orator who was instrumental in setting the stage for this nation=s rise to power as a land of liberty among the Gentiles.
It all began with the formation of a unique league of nations which Hiawatha first presented to his own people in New York sometime around the middle of the fifteenth century in the region of the Finger Lakes, not too far from the Hill Cumorah. Although Deganawida was said to be the legitimate founder of the league, with Hiawatha placed second, the people felt their greatest affection for Hiawatha. His gentleness and his great wisdom, and his constant appeal to his countrymen’s better sentiments, touched the hearts of the people like no other, with his speeches, which he presented eloquently, retained in the memory of his tribesmen for years to come. The combined strength of the league gave the Iroquois a dominance that continued to shape the region’s history for years to come. In fact, the Founding Fathers of America found their best working model for their new government was not in the writings of European nations, but with the Iroquois League; for the great Law of Peace provided both model and incentive to transform 13 separate colonies into the United States. The Tree of Peace ultimately became the Tree of Liberty, and the eagle, clutching a bundle of thirteen arrows became the symbol of the new American government.
You can read more insights on this fascinating topic in The Lost Sheep of Ancient America.
Phyllis Carol Olive, author of the best-selling book The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, resides in Las Vegas with her husband, Ron Olive. They have a combined family of seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren. She has held a wide variety of both teaching and leadership positions in the church, but her favorite has always been that of teacher which she feels has helped her in her authorship of the various books she has written, with the last, The Lost Sheep of Ancient America, the most comprehensive and thought-provoking of them all. Being confined to her home for the past 20 years because of illness, Phyllis has had ample time to study the scriptures and the history of nations. Her research took her into many lands including the world of the Book of Mormon which she surprisingly discovered included others of Israel besides just the Nephites and Mulekites. It has truly been a time of discovery for Phyllis which has given her the strength to move beyond her pain into a world only recently discovered through DNA to have definite ties to the people of the Book of Mormon, with the Iroquois still living around New York’s Hill Cumorah being remnants of that ancient civilization.