In an old courthouse in St. George Utah I saw this beautiful quilt hanging on the wall. It is called A Remembrance and Reconciliation quilt. It tells the story of a horrific incident in Utah history referred to as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In a New York Times article Sally Denton calls it “the darkest stain” on the history of the Mormon religion. On September 11, 1857 in a meadow in southwest Utah militiamen from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints attacked a wagon train of Arkansas families on their way to set up new homes in California. They killed 140 men, women and older children, saving only seventeen children under the age of eight. The head of the Mormon militia was a man named John D. Lee who was the adopted son of Mormon prophet Brigham Young. The church has labeled Lee a renegade zealot. He felt he needed get rid of infidels who might want to hurt the Mormons or infiltrate their territory. To this day there continues to be a great deal of controversy about exactly what transpired. How much did Mormon church authorities know about the massacre both before and after it happened? Did they try to cover up evidence or unfairly place blame elsewhere, including on a local group of First Nations people?
The quilt I saw in St. George has forty eight squares contributed by descendants of both the militiamen who helped Lee carry out the massacre as well as descendants of the Arkansas settlers whose ancestors were killed. A similar quilt is on display in Arkansas. It is a way to remember those who died and to express sorrow over what happened as well as provide an avenue for healing.
Green leaves on the quilt record the names of people killed. Red flowers record the names of the seventeen children who were spared.
I visited the home of Rachel Hamblin which was close to the massacre.The seventeen children whose lives were spared were first taken to Rachel’s house. She writes of that experience saying…“in the darkness of night, two of the children cruelly mangled and most of them with their parents’ blood still wet upon their clothes, and all of them shrieking with terror and grief and anguish”
The quilt tells a tragic and damning story but I have to give credit to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for having it on display where thousands of visitors can see it. As is the case with so many religious groups who must now confront the atrocities committed by their clergy and membership in the past, there is hopefully a growing realization that only transparency and honesty, admission of guilt and request of forgiveness, can help pave the way to a more peaceful future where no religious group believes it has a corner on the truth so all are accepted with love and are never seen as enemies.
Both wisdom from Buddhist and Hindu sources are included on the quilt
One morning our group of Utah women adventurers decided to do a trek through The Red Hills Desert Garden.
The garden is beautifully designed and we enjoyed discovering some new species like… the Indian fig cactus and the Blackfoot DaisyMy friend Lori had learned about the Joshua Tree on her recent visit to Arizona so she shared her knowledge with the rest of us.
My friend Marge crosses the stream in the garden. We spotted two pairs of mallards swimming in the stream although we couldn’t spot any fish.
It rained for a bit during our walk but we didn’t let that deter us. And we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbowOne of the knowledgeable garden employees helped us find the dinosaur footprints the park is famous for. They think the kind of dinosaur that made these prints might be a Dilophosaurus. We posed with some of the dinosaur prints.
Our helpful guide suggested we head off on a walk through the Red Cliff Desert Reserve adjacent to the garden. He thought we might spot a tortoise.
Doesn’t that rock Marge is looking at resemble a turtle’s shell?
We didn’t see a tortoise but we did spot a rabbit and some very interesting rock formations. We also saw beautiful flowers blooming in the desert.
We could have stayed longer but it was soon time to head out to the ball diamond to cheer for our husbands in their next game. We’d had a great morning in the Desert Garden and Desert Reserve.
Better With Friends
My friends Merle and Marge outside the Jacob Hamblin house.
In Santa Clara just outside of St. George, Utah I toured the home of Jacob Hamblin.
In the doorway of the Jacob Hamblin House
Jacob’s family were prosperous farmers. One of the things they grew was cotton. Here are the spinning wheel and loom Jacob’s wives used to spin the cotton into yarn and then weave things for their family.
My friend Marge with the cotton plants.
There were some cotton plants on the yard of the Hamblin home and you could pick a little bit of cotton.
My friend Merle with some of the cotton she picked.
After the cotton was harvested all the tiny seeds inside each boll of cotton had to be picked out by hand so the wool was ready to card. In every boll or handful of cotton there were 12 to 42 seeds. Picking these seeds out was intense difficult work later made so much easier by the invention of the cotton gin.
Here is some cotton with the little cotton seeds that have been picked from it on the table.
Later we got to try our hand at picking all the little seeds out of bolls of cotton. It was cotton pickin’ hard!
Stitching a Story
Athena and the Creation of the Spider
On our way to Utah we spent some time in the Las Vegas airport. I was surprised to see this sign on the inside of the door of the stall I used in an airport washroom. I had never seen a sign like it before and I wanted to know why it was there so I did a little research.
- The United States Justice Department has named Las Vegas as one of the top twenty destinations in the world for human trafficking.
- Las Vegas is a major hub for child sex trafficking because of the hyper-sexualized entertainment industry there, easy access to alcohol and drugs and twenty-four hour gambling.
- The National Human Trafficking Resource Centre reported receiving 277 calls and emails in 2015 about human trafficking in Nevada.
- Each year, Metro Police in Las Vegas rescue around 400 children victimized by human/ sex traffickers.
There are some signs of hope however………
- Catherine Marie Cortez Masto is currently a Democratic Senator from Nevada. In 2013 when she was Nevada’s Attorney General she introduced a bill that established the human trafficking of children and adults as a crime, making its victims eligible for state assistance and allowing them to sue their traffickers. Those convicted could have their assets seized and liquidated to provide relief to their victims.
- Hospital personnel in Las Vegas are being taught to look for signs that patients may be human trafficking victims.
- Billboards and signs like the ones I saw in the Las Vegas airport washroom offer a hotline number for victims to call to get help. Some do.
Human trafficking is epidemic world-wide. There are more than 40 million victims a year who are part of a 150 billion dollar industry. The sign I saw in the Las Vegas airport indicates steps are being taken to try to deal with the problem. Look here for suggestions about things you can do .
Giving Slaves a Modern Humanity
Acts of Kindness and Love
Ai Wei Wei