Mormon settler colonialism: Elise Boxer, ‘The Book of Mormon as Mormon Settler Colonialism’, in P. Jane Hafen, Brenden W. Rensink (eds), Essays on American Indian and Mormon History, University of Utah Press, 2019, pp. 3-22


Excerpt: The Book of Mormon is not just a reflection of Mormon settler colonialism, but has been used to create a discourse that silences Indigenous voices and perspectives regarding their own history as a people on this continent. According to P. Jane Hafen, this is a“disruptive and colonizing act.” The Book of Mormon is utilized to construct a Lamanite identity and history in which Indigenous Peoples exist only to legitimize the presence of Mormon settlers on this continent and the religious narrative found in the Book of Mormon as accurate and true. By depicting Indigenous Peoples as Lamanites, or the first immigrants to this continent, the Book of Mormon provides the necessary justification for Indigenous removal and dispossession by Mormon settlers along the Mormon Corridor (Idaho, Utah, Arizona) in what is now the United States. The Book of Mormon reflects the nuanced ways in which Mormon settler colonialism is utilized to physically remove Indigenous people from their homelands while also demarcating Indigenous worldviews, identities, and histories as the racialized “other.” The Book of Mormon reflects the nuanced ways in which Mormon settler colonialism functions by creating very distinct notions of Indigeneity. Indigeneity, as defined by the Book of Mormon, is exhibited through the construction and application of “Lamanites” to American Indian Peoples. Lamanite identity is fluid, changing over time, but always in relation to Mormon Euro-​American notions of Indigeneity. The use of the Book of Mormon as a historical and religious text of Lamanite identity and history on this continent erases the way Indigenous Peoples view their own creation as a people, their connection to the land, and their identity as a people. Instead, Indigenous Peoples are made to fit into Mormon creation stories and religious belief system. The erasure of Indigenous Peoples and history by Mormon settlers is an extension of the larger American colonial project of removal and genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

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