All these years later, Mormons are still proud of their rescue stories. Theatrical reenactments, complete with music and costume, pay homage. Youth participating in coming-of-age treks are encouraged to draw upon the strength of the Mormon pioneer.
Daniel Wood mattered to those who planned his memorial, built a monument, and continued the cemetery’s upkeep. As someone who appreciates history, I was giddy with excitement over the details of Daniel’s funeral, including the details such as the lilac-colored lettering on the banner draping his casket. It made it easy to imagine myself there among my people.
In this space, Mormons benefited from the power of the collective. Together they strengthened bonds, experienced joy, and shared knowledge. For those too young to remember the violence and ostracism earlier pioneers faced, I wonder if they took this space for granted.
I was thrilled my bloodline included a man willing to swear and stand against religion and a corporation because his moral compass told him it was the just and right thing to do.
Why didn’t he use this same fury to fight against slavery, especially when Utah voted to make owning human beings legal within its territory? He did not call his neighbors for meetings to discuss the horrific treatment of native tribes and the stealing of their land. Nor did he create petitions asking to eradicate the ban on blackness which the church wickedly perpetuated.
Peninah was said to have been proud of her race. What did that look like in her daily life? What parts of her native culture did she pass on to her children? The family who wrote of her consistently referred to her native roots as “her race” rather than “our race.” She was also called a “true Christian colonizer.” Having native racial pride and the heart of a colonizer seem at odds with one another. Did native identity and pride continue with her lineage or end with her?
“Pioneer’s ownership was made possible by our participation in the genocide and forced removal of the indigenous tribes.
Before Brigham Young’s claim that God wanted us here, these tribes had lived on and stewarded the mountains and valleys. They used bows and arrows to hunt for birds, bison, and mammoths and fished in lakes and rivers.”