Oct 2, 2009

Is "Lamanite" A Mormon Term?

My husband and I have been watching an American miniseries from 1978 on DVD called Centennial, starring Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, and Richard Crenna, among others. It's really great and gives the viewer an idea of what life was like in 18th Century America for whites, Indians, and so-called "half-breeds." I highly recommend it.

Richard Crenna plays the role of ruthless Frank Skimmerhorn, which I found out is a character loosely based on a real U.S. Army officer named John Chivington. To make a long story short, Skimmerhorn comes to Colorado in the mid-1860's and orders the brutal slaughter of innocent Indians, from the oldest to the very youngest.

When Skimmerhorn first comes to town, he meets some resistance from other white members of the U.S. Army who are on good terms with the Indians and hesistant to disturb the fragile peace. Interestingly, Skimmerhorn defends the extermination of the Indians by asking his men whether they've ever heard of "Lamanites," and talks about them "being cursed with a dark skin," etc. He then admonishes them to read their Bibles.

There is no mention of the word "Mormon" or "Book of Mormon." Just the Bible. Skimmerhorn is mentioned to be from Minnesota and he acts like a very pious, religious man who "talks to God," while at the same time he murders "Lamanites" left and right. He's the type of guy that makes your skin crawl and Crenna plays him well.

So does anyone know whether the term "Lamanite" is purely Mormon?

16 comments:

Last Lemming said...

The reference to the Bible is just lazy scriptwriting. Use Google books to check out the exchange as Michener wrote it (starting on page 450). It says nothing about the Bible and clearly links the term to the Mormons (not that it gets all the details right).

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks, Last Lemming. I'll have to check that out. I'm curious about how Skimmerhorn is described in the book.

SUNN(0)))ofaB.C.Rich said...

19th century... Should read the book "Crow Killer" about "Liver eating" Jeremiah Johnson don't know how much of it is true but it's a good read.

Kaylanamars said...

I really have no idea, but I thought it was based in the Book of Mormon. But the idea of dark skin and being cursed has been around since the dawn of time, unfortunately. Great posts. I'd love to hear your thoughts on GC this weekend.

Mormon Heretic said...

I've never heard anyone use Lamanite besides a Mormon. I'd have to agree with Last Lemming about lazy scriptwriting.

Madam Curie said...

Faithful, you haven't published much in a while. You ok, or are you just fermenting a new blog post that will shock the pants off of your loyal readers? :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

Madam, thanks for missing me! :) I am putting the final touches on a new post. It has been fermenting, but whether it shocks the pants off anyone remains to be seen. :)

Stay tuned.

PS: You all seen the statement from Harry Reid about Prop 8?

thefirestillburning said...

Fermenting? Oh, no! It's on the word of wisdom! :D

FireTag

Madam Curie said...

Yeah, FD, I saw it. Did you get a look at Elder Oaks' talk yesterday on the Newscenter?

The Faithful Dissident said...

Yeah, I've been reading the highlights. I gotta say, why can't they just let it go? Prop 8 got passed. Why do the GA's want to continue kicking up dust like this? I guess it would be more understandable if they had lost, but they got what they wanted. So quit flaming the fire.

I find it incredibly ironic (and embarrassing) that Elder Oaks is comparing Mormons to African Americans in the 60's. How dare we, with our racial history, draw such comparisons? Now we're suddenly just like blacks, who were accused of being communists or when one of the GA's (can't remember which one) got into trouble for expressing sadness about Martin Luther King's assassination?

It's like they're just ASKING for more problems. I'm seriously afraid that the LDS Church (at least in America, since most American Mormons are totally oblivious to the political standings of their peers abroad) is going to start looking like the Rush Limbaugh show in the coming years. It's like they WANT to alienate anyone with an ounce of progressive spirit in them.

Madam Curie said...

The only reason I can think of that Oaks would give this talk is that we (the US) have elections coming up, and it is a tight race for same-sex marriage rights in Maine and Washington State. He made some comments about not rejecting someone politically based on their religious background, which would also seem to indicate subtle support to Mitt Romney or Huntsman in 2012.

Sometimes I also think that the church views its organization with a nationalistic spin, sort of like how US presidents of yore have done: You need an enemy to unite the people. It isn't enough that the enemy is Satan. Oh, no - he's far to nebulous of a villain. So, they take the conservative fight de jour and put their entire weight behind it. The same thing happened with the ERA in the late 80s.

Perhaps they are also hoping that the continued rhetoric of the same-sex marriage fight will get them some street cred with the evangelical Protestants.

The thing that annoys me most is that TBMs use talks like Oaks' to push the "God is separating the wheat from the tares" argument. And it doesn't help when it seems more and more like the church is trying to force middle-way Mormons out.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"The thing that annoys me most is that TBMs use talks like Oaks' to push the "God is separating the wheat from the tares" argument. And it doesn't help when it seems more and more like the church is trying to force middle-way Mormons out."

Yes, that's what scares me. I'm afraid that in the future, the LDS Church is going to resemble some of the ultraconservative evangelical churches. Diversity will be non-existent.

I hate the whole "separating the wheat from the tares" analogy. We can ask ourselves, especially if we look at the black civil rights history within the Church, who the wheat and who the tares were.

Madam Curie said...

You make a really good (albeit frightening) point about the church looking like the Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity show. I hate those two.

Anonymous said...

" It's like they WANT to alienate anyone with an ounce of progressive spirit in them."


I'd suggest you change the word "alienate" to "control" and Houston, we've got lift off!

Anonymous said...

Good post but you sound confused outside the Church and confused inside. The problem with religion today is that people have a sense of one-big-happy world where everyone is blessed and happy. The reality of religion is that some will make it to heaven and some won't. Christ said that you're either with him or against him. You should use your talents and gifts to help people stay in the Church. When you cast all these doubts out there, many people will listen to you and fall away even more. But fall away to what? Doubt. Who's the father of all doubts? Why did Christ combat doubt all the time? If I were to guess, we just lost a great soul like you who could be IN helping and let God sort it all out after you're gone. Angel.

Hypatia said...

Anonymous, if you believe that ignoring reality and trying to pretend there aren't real problems and issues that FD talks about here, I don't know what to say to you because you truly live in a different world. To just discount someone's genuine questions makes people feel pushed away from the church even more. Being able to have an open dialogue is a good thing. If the church is true, then why be scared of questions? Believe it or not, it was people like FD who when I was trying to stay in the church, kept me going the longest, and it was comments from people like you that made me want to distance myself away from it even more. Try to show some more understanding.