While reading James Mooney’s paper, Powhatan Confederacy, Past and Present, I was transcribing the list of Pamunkey tribal members from 1899, and I noticed “the small print.” At the end of the list was a note that said “Others with Mormons in the West.”
Now this is surprisingly good news, because as we all know, the Mormons tended to document their families, as genealogy is part of the Mormon religion. Mormons believe that families can remain intact in the hereafter, but of course, before you can remain with your family, you have to figure out who they are. Here’s a nice blog post that explains why, in case you’ve always wanted to know. http://familyhistoryresource.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-genealogy-is-important-to-mormons.html
In any event, this also tells us that the Mormon Church was active among this tribe of Indians as well. They were also very influential within the Catawba tribe in South Carolina. A number of those tribal members also “went West” with the Mormons in the 1800s.
Why were the Mormons so interested in Native Americans? The Mormon faith believes (believed?) that the Indians were a lost tribe of Israel. As such , they wanted to convert them to the Mormon faith. They worked among the Eastern tribes to do so, offering them food and sustenance as they were suffering from loss of land and other economic setbacks. I have the question mark beside believed because DNA tests have not confirmed their belief.
It’s ironic that the Mormon push to the west in and of itself presented the same problems to the western Indian tribes that they were seeing the results of and ministering to in the east. Here’s a link about the Mormons and the Indian tribes.