In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Navajo Knowledge of Christ's Visit to the Americas as Shared by Golden R. Buchanan

Navajo Shaman from late 1800's early 1900's
I decided to share this portion of a talk given by Golden R. Buchanan who spent a large portion of his life in the service of the Native Americans. He is also known as the "father of the Indian Placement Program" for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was  my Uncle William Bush's mission president.  My uncle spent many years  as a counselor for the Indian Placement Program working hand in hand will the Indigenous of this country.  This is just a portion of Golden Buchanan's talk called "Indian Traditions" in the Improvement Era magazine in 1955.  I decided to share this article because it shows the traditional stories in which Christ chose twelve disciples on the American continent.  This one in particular was shared by an older Navajo shaman and if these traditional stories are indeed true they add support and authenticity to the historicity of the Book of Mormon which proclaims the same message of the visitation of Christ to the Americas shortly after his death and resurrection in Jerusalem. Enjoy!

Some months ago I spent a few days in the hinterlands of the reservation. Among others that I visted was an old medicine man. His home was so remote that up to this time he had never heard the gospel. As we sat in his home, I began the story of the gospel, using his lovely daughter as an interpreter. As the story progressed, I could see his interest rising, and by the time our story reached the part of the visit of the Savior to this continent and his choosing of the Twelve, he could contain his eagerness no longer.

In his native tongue, for he could speak no English, he said, "I know of that," and putting up his hands he named the Twelve disciples chosen by the Savior. He gave them all names and in order. As the story continued, more and more he entered into the discussion, supplying parts of it. He was so completely enthralled that he seemed not to notice that we were white people. He fitted in the stories of the people with the message of the restoration.

Christ's visit to the Americas
Later on in the day, as we sat in the shade visiting, I asked him if he would let me have and write the names of the Twelve as he had given them. He thought a while and then cautioned that should I write, I must never give them to the world. They were sacred, and not to be used lightly. But, since I was his friend and knew the story anyway, he would give them to me and I might write them if I would keep them to myself. He then named them one by one, each in its place; there could be no variation.

As we sat there visiting, I thought to try him on another point. "Which of these Twelve are the three that did not die?" I asked. His eyes flashed, he looked at me searchingly. I seemed to read the thoughts in his mind, which were something like this. "How could you white men know about such things?"

I said further to him, "Yes, I know about it. It is here in your book, the Book of Mormon. It is no secret. Your forefathers wrote it, and we have it here. I just wanted to see if you could give me the names of the three."

He sat for some time with his head bowed, and then finally looked up and said, "The names of the Twelve I
have just given you, are not the Twelve that he chose on this continent, they are the Twelve that were with him across the waters before he came here. Their names are sacred and must not be used lightly." After some little time I asked him if he would give me the names of the Twelve chosen here. He looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, "My friend, you have had enough for one time. Come again some other time." He got up from the log and hurried away and busied himself with some sheep that were in the pen. As I sat there pondering, his wife came over and warned me again of the sacredness of what I had learned and suggested that they should only be used on rare occasions.

Artists depiction of Christ's visit to the Americas
and his calling of twelve disciples

On other occasions I have been told the story of the three who never died. Some of the old patriarchs claim that they have seen the three, that they have sat with them in conference and have discussed the program of the Navajo people. But, said one, "They are not just like us although they look like it. They are not dead, but something has happened to their bodies because they can sit with us in council and then, quick as a flash, they are clear across the reservation with another group of Navajos. I do not know how they do it, but I know them and have talked with them many times."

I have scarcely scratched the surface of even the few things that I know, and I am sure that there are countless items of interest and information that have not come to my attention. It is interesting to note, in closing, that I know of no Indian language in which one can take the name of the Lord in vain. Indeed, I do not know of an Indian language in which they can even swear. They have to learn English or some white man's language before they can defile the name of Deity.

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