The attractive idea of this book is that is was written in 1825, by Ethan Smith (no relation to Joseph Smith). The front cover reads that Smith is a “Pastor of a Church in Poultney, Vermont”. It is interesting to read older books talking about the past. It may not be entirely accurate, but there is that chance that it is closer to the truth then what is written today.
Smith ascertains that the Native American are a tribe of Israel and gives example after example to support his claim. He goes into the native traditions and likens them unto Jewish traditions. It is a little hard telling what is just his opinion and what is an actual fact, but it is an amazing claim.
He pulls quotes from the likes of Doctor Jarvis, Reverend Samuel Sewall, Samuel Willard, Manasseh Ben Israel, James Adair, William Penn and many more who give some inkling at to the origin of the Native American. Some of these names are people who have written other books on the subject, which we will eventually feature on this blog.
He uses scriptures and quotes from people who have lived among the natives to build the case that the Natives were once a God fearing people, worshiping the same God as the Europeans, that their original language could have been Hebrew and that there would some day be a restoration of all things. In fact, he uses Isaiah 18 as his basis that the natives would be part of some sort of restoration.
From the book “Should it be proved a fact that the aborigines of our continent are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel; it would heighten the probability to a moral certainty that we are the people especially addressed and called upon to restore them; or bring them to the knowledge of the gospel, and to do with them whatever the God of Abraham designs shall be done.”
There were theories that Oliver Cowdery knew this pastor or lived in the same town as Ethan Smith or even went to the same church. And there are many claims that Joseph Smith used this book to write the Book of Mormon because of how similar the discussion of the natives being part of the Lost Tribes of Israel becomes. There is no solid evidence of this. It is only coincidental.
My personal feeling on that matter is that while there are similarities, there are many other writers (whom we will be reviewing) that also talk about the Natives belonging to a lost tribe of Israel and no one has yet revealed any kind of record of the event to match with the Book of Mormon. There are many people talking about it, but no one showing record. So whether it’s a hoax or not, I ask the question: What does Joseph get out of creating a record out of scratch? At the end of his life I would assess…not much.