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.
Lucy, Mary, and Thomas’ stories are not unique. Brigham Young encouraged Mormon families to purchase or barter for native children believing they would be better off in Mormon households. Native Americans, called Lamanites, could lighten their skin, becoming white and delightsome through conversion to the Mormon church. The saints saw bringing native children into their homes as an opportunity to save them while increasing the church roster.
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?
“God’s latest revelation to Joseph Smith instructed him to gather his chosen people in a central place called Zion. Here the saints could practice their faith while waiting for Christ’s second coming. Little did he know the Mormon search for a utopia was only beginning.”