[Marxism] Mormon country

MICHAEL YATES mikedjyates at msn.com
Mon Apr 13 21:06:17 MDT 2009

Full at http://blog.cheapmotelsandahotplate.org


Karen and I love the canyon country of southern Utah. Last November, we spent three weeks hiking in the five national parks that span the state from west to east. We drove from Tucson north to Phoenix and up, up to Sedona and Flagstaff, rising 6,000 feet out of the polluted desert developments and into the ponderosa forests underneath the sacred San Francisco peaks. Interstate 89 takes you from Flagstaff, still straight north, through the ravaged and strange Navajo Nation, every Indian family, it seems, in a pickup truck. Off to the west is the Colorado, mother river of the desert canyons, faucet to the big desert cities and the irrigated mono-crop farms that give us our greens in winter. If you have time, you can turn off 89—a few miles south of Page, a town built in the late 1950s to house the workers building the infamous Glen Canyon Dam (see Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang for the awful details)—onto 89A, and head down toward the river. Stop beyond the Navajo Bridge just a few miles south of Lee’s Ferry and learn about the area’s history at the Interpretative Center. Then continue west, climbing out of the canyon, from where you can go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon via Highway 67, or stay on 89A to Fredonia, then take Highway 389 to the renegade Mormon "twin towns" of Colorado City, Arizona and Hillsdale, Utah. Here you will see many gigantic houses, with rooms enough for the multiple wives and numerous children of the family patriarch. Polygamy is common here, and this is where the notorious Mormon apostate Warren Jeffs ruled over his disciples. The official average income of Colorado City is very low, but this belies the reality of many legally unrecognized wives receiving public assistance. Arizona 389 becomes Utah 59, and this eventually takes you to Hurricane, Utah (pronounced Hurricun), a short distance from Zion, the first of the national parks we visited on our trip.


I’ll tell readers about the wonders of southern Utah in a future post. But for now, I offer you an excerpt from my book, Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate: an Economist’s Travelogue. Much of the west is Mormon country. This is readily apparent in most of Utah, but it is also evident in Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho. John D. Lee, the man who ran the ferry across the Colorado River, was a Mormon pioneer, ordered, in 1871, by the Latter Day Saints to establish it. Fourteen years earlier, Lee had participated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormon militiamen murdered more than one hundred men, women, and children, who were migrating west from Arkansas. The Mormons spared the children under eight and doled them out to Mormon families. They tried to paint the slaughter as the work of Indians, but eventually government investigation showed otherwise. Remarkably, only John D. Lee was tried before a court. He was found guilty and was shot by firing squad at the site of the massacre. Although Mormons keep their history alive, and you feel its presence, they kept this horrible event out of their remembrances.

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