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TitleOld America - Jared
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1875
AuthorsOttinger, G.M.
MagazineJuvenile Instructor
Issue Number1
Date Published9 January 1875
KeywordsAncient America; Brother of Jared

Series of articles dealing with archaeological, anthropological, geographical, societal, religious, and historical aspects of ancient America and their connections to the Book of Mormon, which is the key to understanding “old American” studies.

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The Creator, having divided the earth, and allowed a short time -- some fourteen years -- for its composure, continued His work of separation by confounding the language of the people "swearing in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered." Thus, the descendants of Noah, originally confined to a particular locality and an original unity and equality, are now spread over the whole earth, presenting four leading or distinct types, white, yellow, red and black. Learned ethnologists ignoring the simplicity of the sacred and inspired records of holy writ, have lost themselves in vague and often absurd theories in their repeated efforts to solve the mystery of the origin of these distinct races, and their first advent upon the globe, but in all their labors they have most signally failed. Into this theme of wide-spread discussion we will not enter, holding to our own belief: that all men were created equal, with God's image as a model, without any classification or variety of color, but that through wickedness they have brought upon themselves repeated cursings of God, as in the cases of Cain, Ham and Laman, wherein their complextions were changed. Through the influences of climate, mode of living, or amalgamation, and by adhering to, or disregarding the will and commands of an all-wise God, has man advanced or fallen from the exalted state originally conferred upon him; and instead of presenting one type, as originally intended, speaking one language and forming one great order of brotherhood, we are split up, divided, classified and marked so that at the present time the curse of Babel has become a confusion worse confounded.

Leaving the eastern hemisphere to be re-peopled by the numerous tribes and families radiating from Babel, we turn our thoughts to the long unexplained mystery -- the re-peopling of America. Until the appearance of the Book of Mormon no reasonable theory or definite historical explanation could be given of the origin of the aboriginal inhabitants of the western portion of our globe. Many and various, rational and irrational, have been the theories advanced to explain the origin of the people who have left their relics scattered over the land. One of these theories is that the original inhabitants were the "ten lost tribes of Israel." This idea has been defended by some students in elaborate treatises. Originally advanced by the Spanish monks, who assumed also that the Gospel was originally preached in America by St. Thomas, it has been taken up by many eminent writers, who have given us long and detailed descriptions of the journey the "tribes" made through Palestine, Syria, in fact, over the extent of Asia, crossing at Behring's Strait, and thence down the Pacific coast. Lord Kingsborough devotes the major part of one of his immense volumes to the explanation and support of this absurd idea. Another hypothesis, equally absurd, is that civilization was brought to America by the Malays. A few investigators maintain that the first inhabitants came originally from Phoenicia and M. de Gourbourg and some other writers hold to what may be called the "Atlanta" theory. They suppose the continent of America to have extended originally far across the Atlantic ocean, in a peninsula shape, but at some time in the world's history this extended portion was engulfed by some convulsion of nature, thus separating the two hemispheres more effectually, and the Atlantic people who escaped destruction settled in Central America. In fact, the claims of zealous writers attribute the original source of the Americans to almost every prominent nation of the old world, the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Israelites, Arabs, Egyptians, Celts, Hindoos, Tartars, Scythians, Coreans, Samoieds and Tungusians.

In the midst of all these conflicting and jarring accounts and statements, let us examine the simpler, plain, unvarnished record of Ether, as we find it in the Book of Mormon. Here we learn that when the Lord confounded the language at Babel, He led forth a colony under the leadership of Jared and his brother. As He had guided the ark across the stormy waters before, as He led the children of Israel over the burning sands of Arabia afterwards, so He guided the few people chosen to re-populate a land "choice above all the earth." The record informs us that after a journey in the wilderness, compelling them at times to build barges on which they crossed many rivers, they finally, after a four years' sojourn, constructed vessels and sailed -- we infer from some point on the Mediterranean coast of Africa, possibly from the Atlantic coast now called Morrocco -- to America, and established themselves as colonists in the central part of the western continent.

Ether has recorded the history of the rise, progress and decay of Jared and his people, but the people of this age of the world look upon the book containing his record as a myth, and still hold to their various theories and speculations. Let us take up the secular histories, in which all believe, and see how far the Book of Ether is sustained Us by the traditions and the few records preserved of the descendants of this colony who landed in the country some three thousand years ago.

Three great events had already transpired in the world's history of so much importance that they could never be forgotten, never lost from the memory of man, as long as tongue could speak or hand record -- the creation of man, the deluge and the confusion of languages. Going back from son to father, it never has been forgotten; going into the future from father to son, it never will be forgotten Let us see how well the old Americans have preserved the memory of these epochs, that point so undeniably to the source of their information.

The Toltec painting of the deluge and confusion of tongues an engraving of which can be found in "Humboldt's Mexico," also in Priest's Antiquities. and Clavigero's History of Mexico, was painted in a manuscript book made of the leaves of a tree, suitable for the purpose. The picture represents Noah floating in a canoe, or boat; over Noah is a mountain, the summit crowned by a tree; to the left, rising above the waters, another mountain or peak is seen, crowned by a horn. This is a hieroglyphic denoting the mountain Colhucan (Ararat). At the foot of the mountain, supporting the tree, are two heads -- Noah and his wife. A dove rests in the tree, from whose beak branches the Toltec figure of speech or language. Fifteen figures of men are approaching, and receiving the language from the bird; it is supposed these figures represent the heads of families, or leaders of fifteen tribes. One remarkable feature in this picture is, that the figures have no resemblance to the Indians, but seem to be a transcript of a group of ancient Greeks or Romans. This presentation of a Caucasian assembly, is strong evidence that the present Indian is not a representative of the first inhabitants of America.

Clavigero states that the Chipanese Indians had a manuscript, in which it was written "that a person named Votan was present at the building (of the tower of Babel) in order to mount to heaven, and that then every people received the various languages."

The ancient Indians of Cuba, called Caribs, learned from their ancestors that God created heaven and earth and all things; that an old man having foreseen the deluge, built a canoe and embarked in it with his family and many animals. When the waters abated he sent forth a raven which never returned; he then sent a pigeon, which soon returned with a branch of the hoba tree. The old man and family then disembarked, and having made wine of grapes produced after the flood, became intoxicated. While in this condition, one of his sons exposed his nakedness, and another covered him. When he awoke, the Lord blessed the latter, and cursed the former. The Caribs hold that they were the descendants of the son who was cursed.