SW10010: American Indian Delegations to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo/Joseph Smith as a Spiritual Egalitarian

“The Great Spirit Has Told Us That You Are the Man”: American Indian Delegations to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo, Christopher C. Smith Joseph Smith as a Spiritual Egalitarian, Bryan Cottle Smith: In 1843 and 1844, several anti-American, formerly British-allied Indian groups dispatched delegations to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo. They apparently came to Smith because the exit of the British and the fall of the Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa had left a political and religious power vacuum that they hoped Smith and his Nauvoo legion could fill. They hoped that Smith would replace the British king as their white patron and military ally and Tenskwatawa as their apocalyptic warrior-prophet. If smith had said “yes” to these Indian overtures, then in one fell swoop, he might have inherited the remains of Britain’s and Tenskwatawa’s Indian empire. He seems, however, to have turned them down, or at least to have deferred his acquiescence for public relations reasons. Cottle: Early in life, Joseph Smith experienced spiritual manifestations. For the rest of his days, he constantly urged his followers to experience the supernatural as he did. This trend reveals Joseph Smith as a “spiritual egalitarian.” Smith also embedded his spiritual egalitarianism in the structure and teachings of his movement. Although, it can be argued, this egalitarian impulse diminished after Smith’s death in 1844, its impact upon Mormonism was profound and gives us greater insight into smith’s personality.

Christopher C. Smith, Bryan Cottle