The year 1890 looms large in American history. It ranks up there with 1776, 1877, and 1945 as important dates that historians have used to organize our past. It also shapes collective memory. Mormons most readily associate 1890 with the Woodruff Manifesto and the “official” end of polygamy. For Americans, and westerners more specifically, 1890 represents the end of the Frontier, the most American part of our history, to paraphrase Frederick Jackson Turner. According to C. Vann Woodward, the 1890s marked the hardening of segregation in the South.
1890 also marked the date of the last significant massacre of between 150 and 300 Oglala Lakota Indians (Sioux) at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. As the last major altercation between a Native group and the U.S. military, Wounded Knee has taken on great significance in Western and Native histories, marking the symbolic date of the last time that Native peoples had the potential to rise up militarily to define their own destinies. As Philip Deloria has noted, “Some people—especially white Americans—dated the end of the old days to 1890, when U.S. soldiers had surrounded and slaughtered Big Foot’s band at Wounded Knee Creek. . . . Wounded Knee seemed to mark a. . .division across time. It split old days apart from new days (even as memory and shared culture stitched them together again).” For white America, Wounded Knee marked the end of the “Indian Wars” of the late nineteenth-century, the last of the “heroic yet doomed” military struggles over the fate of the continent.
Wounded Knee also had significant consequences for what might be called “Lamanism,” or the cultural production of Lamanites among white Latter-day Saints. As John-Charles Duffy suggests, the massacre ended “armed resistance to the U.S. government. . . .[and] Indians’ submission to the reservation system dulled apocalyptic expectations about Lamanites violently reclaiming their promised land.” In truth, it is doubtful that most white Mormons today, or even most Mormon historians for that matter, recognize the full significance of Lamanites/Native Americans in early Mormon history. When The Book of Mormon appeared in 1830, it was a radical document, one that envisioned the eradication of much of white America by Native Americans and the absorption of a small group of converted Gentiles into the chosen remnant of Jacob (see especially 3 Nephi 21). Much of Joseph Smith’s Zion project centered around the promise of the large-scale conversion of Lamanites and rumors circulated from the 1830s through the 1890s of a white Mormon/Native American alliance that would wipe out white America. Parley P. Pratt, in his highly influential Voice of Warning, addressed Native America in saying that
the very places of their [that is, white Americans] dwellings will become desolate except such of them as are gathered and numbered with you; and you will exist in peace, upon the face of this land, from generation to generation. And your children will only know, that the Gentiles once conquered this country, and became a great nation here, as they read it in history; as a thing long since passed away, and remembrance of it almost gone from the earth.
Perhaps due to the rampant rumors of the white Mormon-Native alliance, Pratt deleted this passage from subsequent editions. Ironically, with the possibility of such Indian violence existing only in memory or distant millenialism after1890, it has been white Mormons who have largely forgotten the violent Lamanism of the early church.
White Mormons have also forgotten that some early Saints looked for the Lord to raise up a great Indian prophet. In late 1830, Ohio newspaperman Eber D. Howe noted that Oliver Cowdery and his companions continued “on their mission to the Indians (or Lamanites, as they term them) in the ‘far west,’ where they say a Prophet is to be raised up, in whom the tribes will believe.” This is intriguing. Unfortunately, surviving evidence has not been located to flesh out what else Cowdery, JS, or others thought of this Indian prophet. However, when Orson Pratt prepared annotations for the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon, his footnote for 2 Nephi 3:24,
And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exeeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren.
Pratt noted that the one to be risen up would be “an Indian prophet.” Howe’s use of the phrase “to be raised up” suggests that Cowdery and others had this verse in mind when talking about this Indian prophet, although without more evidence, we can’t know for certain.
The missionaries visited the Wyandots (Hurons), the Delawares, the Catteraugus (Seneca Iroquois), and the Shawnees during this first Lamanite mission. While we do not know for sure why these groups were chosen for proselyting, Lori Taylor has noted that each of these Native nations claimed prophetic traditions. The Hurons spoke of Deganawidah, the Master of Things and the Peacemaker, a Huron prophet who taught the Iroquois Confederacy a new social order of cooperation. The Delawares followed Neolin, a prophet who encouraged his people to reject European ways in favor of the old ways, in order to gain favor with the Great Spirit. Neolin was associated with Pontiac and his war in 1763-1764. The Iroquois believed in Handsome Lake, a prophet who received heavenly visitations in 1799-1800 from four visitors who encouraged him and his people to embrace traditional practices and to observe the ceremonial cycle. He encouraged his people to give up alcohol, witchcraft, and other vices. And lastly, the Shawnees followed Tenskwatawa, brother of the famous Tecumseh, who taught that the Shawnee needed to reject white ways in order to push back white settlement. Tenskwatawa learned from Handsome Lake and taught some things that appears to be influenced by Christianity. Although it is unclear how much the early Mormons knew about these prophets or the Native peoples who claimed them, Taylor’s speculation that the missionaries proselyted the Wyandots, Delawares, Catteraugus, and Shawnees for this reason remains intriguing. Equally fascinating is Taylor’s analysis of a story told by some contemporary Iroquois that JS knew about Handsome Lake’s teachings (who was active in western New York until his death in 1815) and that the Book of Mormon was shaped by Handsome Lake’s ideas. Whether there is any truth to such accounts awaits further investigation by ethnohistorians, but one thing is certain, the Book of Mormon and early white Mormon interpretations of it had more in common with the apocalyptic visions of Neolin, Tenskwatawa, and other Native prophets than with the views of most other white Americans of the nineteenth century.
 Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places, 15-16.
 Duffy, “The Use of ‘Lamanite’ in Official LDS Discourse,” Journal of Mormon History 34, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 131.
 Walker, ““Seeking the ‘Remnant': The Native American during the Joseph Smith Period,” Journal of Mormon History 19, no. 1 (1993): 1-33. Walker argues that historians have largely failed to recognize the centrality of Native Americans in early Mormonism. Mormon historians are not alone in marginalizing the importance of Native Americans when writing about nineteenth-century America. See Susan Scheckel’s The Insistence of the Indian: Race and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century American Culture for a discussion of the centrality of Natives in nineteenth-century America and the tendency of twentieth-century historians to emphasize slavery as the central race question of the century. Much of the new New Indian History of the last two decades has recovered the power and agency of Native peoples in early American history. See Richard White, The Middle Ground, Alan Taylor, The Divided Ground, Ned Blackhawk, Violence Over the Land, and Pekka Hamalainan, The Comanche Empire, for some of the best examples of this new literature.
 As quoted in Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism, 80.
 “The Book of Mormon,” The Painesville Telegraph, 30 November 1830, 3.
 Thanks to Robin Jensen, the 2004 Joseph Smith Papers Student Researcher of the Year, for checking the reference for me.
 Taylor, “Telling Stories About Mormons and Indians,” PhD. Diss, State University of New York at Buffalo, 2000, 141-60, 306-51. Taylor notes that Handsome Lake’s nephew, Red Jacket, spoke in Palmyra in 1822.