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Elder Marlin K. Jensen: Indian civilization existed as pioneers arrived

While much is to be gained from remembering Mormon pioneer history, there is an often forgotten "rest of the story" that should be a part of the Pioneer Day observance, that being the perspective of the American Indian tribes who were living in the Great Basin at the time Brigham Young and his followers entered it, Elder Marlin K. Jensen said at the traditional Days of '47 Sunrise Service in the Salt Lake Tabernacle July 24.

"It is seldom given adequate prominence," said Elder Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder and a member of the Seventy. "It begins with the recognition that the Great Salt Lake Valley, at the time of the arrival of the Pioneers was already home to several itinerant bands of American Indians." Numbering about 20,000, they included the Shoshone tribe to the north, the Goshute to the West, the Ute in the central and eastern regions and the Navajo in the southwest, he said.

"The Pioneers no more 'discovered' the Great Basin than Columbus 'discovered' America," Elder Jensen remarked.

With villages and camps clustered primarily in the valleys but also in arid locations usually near water sources, the Indians regarded the land as sacred and were strongly attached to it, he said. "The land and its bounty were critical to their existence."

Unfortunately, useful land was scarce, he noted. "From the day the 1847 pioneers first put their plows in the ground, "settlement" for them would mean displacement for Indians."

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