Sunday, June 21, 2009

Masonic Mormon Martyrs?

There is something strange going on with a seemingly isolated story quietly occurring in Utah-Colorado. It has come to involve suicides, Indian artifacts, and perhaps, most covertly and confusingly, Mormons.

On June 10, 2009, two dozen people* were indicted after a sweeping investigation into ancient artifacts allegedly stolen from public and tribal lands. The indicted are accused of stealing, receiving, or trying to sell American Indian bowls, stone pipes, sandals, arrowheads, jars, pendants, and necklaces.

More than 100 agents were involved in the arrests of 23 people. Another person was issued a summons. All were part of a tight-knit network of people involved in illegally excavating, dealing, and collecting stolen artifacts, said Timothy Fuhrman, of the FBI office in Salt Lake City.

Bureau of Land Management and FBI agents used a confidential source who in 2007 and 2008 paid more than $335,000 for 256 stolen artifacts, according to court documents.

The local reaction was swift and vocal. People were upset with the federal government, and the anger soon also turned to sorrow.

The day after the indictments, James Redd - a 60-year-old physician and defendant in the case - was found dead on his Blanding property. He had killed himself, while sitting in his vehicle by a pond on his property. He died of carbon-monoxide poisoning. And then another suicide occurred, by gunshot. What does all this have to do with Mormons?

First, a bit more on Redd.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported on how the body was found:

San Juan County Chief Deputy Grayson Redd said James Redd left a note at his home about 6:30 a.m. Thursday [June 11, 2009] saying he was going to the pond. When he did not return by 10 a.m., the family called their LDS bishop. After a brief search, the bishop called the sheriff's office, which joined in the search.
The Jeep was obstructed from the searchers' view, but a passing neighbor was able to see it and told the bishop, said Grayson Redd, who is a distant relative of the doctor.
The bishop found the Jeep and James Redd about 4 p.m.

"He was one of the best guys I knew," said Paul Reay, a physician who worked with Redd at the Blanding Clinic. "He was a very competent physician, he was kind and always doing things for people. "I feel it's a waste of human life over pottery," Reay said. "The priorities of our federal government are badly misplaced."

On June 10, 2009, Redd was charged with one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property as a co-defendant with his wife, Jeanne Redd, 59, who faces two counts. Court papers say that in September 2007, Jeanne Redd possessed with intent to sell ancient relics, including a black and white ceramic mug, a hafted ax, a gourd necklace and an effigy bird pendant. Each of the artifacts was valued at more than $1,000. She also was accused of swapping two stone pendants for two other stone pendants valued at more than $500. In October 2008, she allegedly sold four sandals valued at more than $1,000.

The Salt Lake Tribute noted, in part:

A 78-year-old member of the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame, Harold J. Lyman, of Blanding, entered a plea of not guilty Thursday to trafficking in stolen artifacts.
Lyman's arrest was particularly galling to many in Blanding.
"Harold Lyman is the nicest guy you'll every meet," said Steve Knight, who lives in neighboring Dove Creek, Colo., but does business in Blanding, a town of about 3,200. "He hasn't broken a law in his life."
And many townspeople spoke bitterly about the federal government, which oversees enormous tracts of federal land throughout Utah.
"Everybody in Blanding is outraged," said Joy Holliday, 69. "Why aren't they out stopping things that hurt people?" Holliday's home was raided in 1987 by federal agents who "took two pottery bowls and a pair of sandals," she said. "They never took us to court, but we couldn't get our things back."
Her nephew, the late Earl Shumway, was convicted at that time of trafficking in antiquities and served six years in federal prison.
In the Four Corners area, pre-Columbian ruins, potsherds, arrowheads and other relics dot the landscape by the thousands.
"You can't walk two miles in any direction without running into an Anasazi site," Holliday said. "In San Juan County, [collecting relics] is a hobby for many people."
...the people of Blanding were mourning James Redd. Reay, his colleague, said Redd was "heroic" in responding when a tour bus overturned on a sharp curve near Mexican Hat to the south last year. Nine of the 53 people aboard were killed and the rest were injured.
"It's going to be a real loss to the community down here," he said. "He's pulled a lot of people through. A lot of the time, he was the only one around who could do a surgery or deliver a baby."

Then on June 19th, it happened again. A second defendant in the federal crackdown on archaeological looting in southern Utah killed himself.

Steven L. Shrader, 56, a resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who faced two felonies in the antiquities case, shot himself twice in the chest late Thursday, June 18, or early Friday, June 19, behind an elementary school in the village of Shabbona, Illinois, authorities said. Winnebago County, Illinois, Coroner Sue Fiduccia said Shrader was in Illinois to visit his mother.

The Salt Lake Tribune commented:

Shrader was indicted for allegedly trafficking in stolen artifacts -- specifically ancient sandals and a basket -- along with Carl "Vern" Crites, 74, Marie Crites, 68, and Richard Bourret, 59, all of Durango, Colo.
An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver implicates Shrader in a 2008 "arrowhead hunt" in Disappointment Valley near Dove Creek, Colo. The affidavit says an undercover operative, identified only as the "Source," was in the Crites residence in March 2008, when Vern Crites displayed arrowheads he said came from Disappointment Valley, a huge area ringed by prehistoric ruins.
During a subsequent conversation with the Source, Shrader said he had gone to the valley with Crites. It was unclear from court papers whether he was on public land.
Reached at his home in Durango, Vern Crites questioned the accusations against Shrader.
"I don't know why he was charged even," Crites said. "I don't think he did anything wrong."
Crites lamented the loss. "That's a shock to me, because he was a friend," he said. "He was a good young man, a single man, a hard-working man, very personable."
Crites declined to further discuss his relationship with Shrader.

For those not looking behind the headlines of this story, part of the linkages here to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormons might not be obvious. Clearly, both men who have died by suicide to date and perhaps most of those indicted, are Mormons. Is there some connection between certain members of the Mormon church and Indian artifacts?

Shabbona, Illinois, is an interesting town to which to return to die. Are there new Mormon martyrs that are being created?

This area of Illinois is historically significant in Mormon history. The town of Shabbona (which is very tied to Native history) was a focus of early Mormon thought, where Joseph Smith first conceptualized polygamy (Shabbona, October 1859) and where his followers formulated restructuring of the Church. Shabbona's Postmaster and Justice of the Peace, the Freemason William Marks (November 15, 1792 – May 22, 1872) was a leader in the early days of the Latter Day Saint movement. It was to Marks in Shabbona that Smith's son wrote (1850), saying he would someday be the "head of the Mormon church." Marks was a member of the First Presidency in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (1860).

In a parallel to the digging up of ancient items, Smith was a "seer," using seer stones in attempts beginning in the 1820s to locate lost items and buried treasure. It will be recalled that Joseph Smith founded the Mormon church after an angel directed him to a long-buried book, inscribed on golden plates, which contained a record of God's dealings with ancient Israelite inhabitants of the Americas. He also found other artifacts (including a breastplate and what Smith referred to as the Urim and Thummim), which were buried in a hill near his home.

Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial is a granite obelisk on a hill in the White River Valley near Sharon and South Royalton, Vermont. There is a LDS Church meetinghouse on the same property as the memorial.

The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. (b. December 23, 1805) on June 27, 1844 marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was attacked and killed by a mob, Smith was serving as the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States. He was killed while jailed in Carthage, Illinois, on charges relating to his ordering the destruction of facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper whose first and only edition claimed Smith was practicing plural marriage and that he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king. While Smith was in jail awaiting trial, an armed mob of men with blackened or painted faces (shades of the "Indians" and the "Boston Tea Party") stormed the jail and shot him and his brother Hyrum to death. Latter Day Saints view Joseph and Hyrum as martyrs.

Strange artifacts are part of the history of the Mormon church. For instance, James J. Strang produced a counterfeit letter from Smith commissioning him to lead the church, as well as revelations with a seerstone and discovered another set of supernatural writings, the Voree Plates. Strang attracted two thousand followers, but Strang himself was assassinated in 1856, after he began to practice polygamy.

Is there more to this story of Indian artifacts, arrests, indictments, and suicides in Utah and Illinois than meets the eye? Is there more to be told on the level about all of this? What is occurring from the West to the East here, folks?


*Here is the list of everyone arrested and indicted.

Richard Raymond Bourret, one felony count of violating ARPA, one felony count depredation of government property
Brent Bullock, 61, Moab, Utah, three felony counts of violating ARPA, two felony counts of theft of government property;
Carl Lavern Crites, 74, Durango, Colorado, two felony counts of violating ARPA, two felony counts of theft of government property, one felony count depredation of government property;
Marie Virginia Crites, 68, Durango, Colorado, two felony counts of theft of government property;
Tad Kreth, 30, Blanding, Utah, seven felony counts of violating ARPA, three felony counts of theft of government property, two felony counts of theft of Indian tribal property;
David A. Lacy, 55, Blanding, Utah, four felony counts of violating ARPA, three felony counts of theft of government property, two misdemeanor counts of violating NAGPRA;
Brandon Laws, 38, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property;
Nicholas K. Laws, 30, Blanding, Utah, two felony counts of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of government property;
Reese Laws, 27, Blanding, Utah, three felony counts of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of government property, one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property;
Dale J. Lyman, 73, Blanding, Utah, three felony counts of violating ARPA;
Harold J. Lyman, 78, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of government
Raymond J. Lyman, 70, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA;
Aubry Patterson, 55, Blanding, Utah, four felony counts of violating ARPA, two felony counts of theft of government property;
Jeanne H. Redd, 59, Blanding, Utah, two felony counts of violating ARPA, two felony counts of theft of government property, three felony counts of theft of Indian tribal property;
James D. Redd, 60, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property;
Steven L. Shrader, Durango, Colorado, two felony counts of theft of government property;
Kevin W. Shumway, 55, Blanding, Utah, eight felony counts of violating ARPA, four felony counts of theft of government property, two misdemeanor counts of violating NAGPRA;
Tammy Shumway, 39, Blanding, Utah, three felony counts of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of government property;
Sharon Evette Shumway, 41, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of government property;
Joseph M. Smith, 31, Blanding, Utah, 17 felony counts of violating ARPA, eight felony counts of theft of government property, three felony counts of theft of Indian tribal property, one count of misdemeanor theft of Indian tribal property;
Meredith Smith, 34, Blanding, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, two felony counts of theft of government property, one count of misdemeanor theft of Indian tribal property;
Rulon Kody Sommerville, 47, Monticello, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, one misdemeanor count of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property;
Loran St. Claire, 47, Monticello, Utah, one felony count of violating ARPA, one misdemeanor count of violating ARPA, one felony count of theft of Indian tribal property; and
David Waite, charged with one count each of trafficking in stolen artifacts, transportation of stolen property and theft of government property.

ARPA incident sources: #1; #2; & #3.


Anonymous said...

It would be nice if these people weren't violating the law by stealing artifacts and destroying their contexts, speaking as an archaeologist. Just because they are related to the Mormon Church or the Masons doesn't mean they are exempt from public law. Just because something is present on federal land or perceived of as common doesn't give anyone the right to decide to destroy it by removing it for their own use, e.g. theft.

Loren Coleman said...

Dear Anonymous Archaeologist

This blog is about trying to figure out what is going on, the covert behind the overt. No "exemptions" were implied by this reportage, but, indeed, instead this is about an attempt to connect the dots in all of this.

Emperor said...

Interesting piece. Last week I caught a documentary on Mark Hofman, a Mormon forger who resorted to pipe bombs when everything started to unravel. It struck me that when people want to believe that gives a con man a gap they can exploit and can compromise their judgement.

Looking at this case I wonder if the Mormon-Native American connection comes from their ideas about the Lost Tribes of Israel, specifically the House of Joseph (and Manasseh specifically), who are suggested to be the ancestors of the Native Americans. Such a belief would make Mormons very interested in Native American artefacts.

The Masons also have an interest in Manasseh, according to this. I note with interest that Smith's brother is Hyrum (Hiram?). As he and Smith were Masons, there are numerous Mason/Mormon links I'd assume they'd be amused by this coincidence, at the very least.

So let's of connections there. I think the important aspect is that where beliefs get mixed with crime, people can start losing perspective and then nasty things start happening.

Unknown said...

Hi, Loren,
It occurs to me the people indicted, if they're Mormons, may seek to defend themselves through the claim the artifacts in question actually belonged to them through a connection between the Amerindians and Mormons, as evidenced by the relationship to the Lost Tribes of Israel. There's an interesting account, several years old, at Ancient American, relating a strange discovery and removal of artifacts that bears on the Mormon question and may have a backdoor sort of link to the current legal matter:

charlie harvin said...

Loren, I really enjoy your blogs but the connections here seem a bit weak to form the foundations of a new conspiracy theory.
Besides, we all know that the LDS, Freemasons and Illuminati are too busy plotting world domination to bother with a few pottery shards ;)

Loren Coleman said...

Folks, no conspiracy theories and no Illuminati are implied.

I merely am asking the question, "Is there more here than meets the eye?"

No answer is assumed.

Kameron said...

What a fascinating article! I was raised Mormon and live in Utah, so this really captured my interest.

Mormonism has some bizarre nooks and crannies. Another wrinkle to this case is what Emperor mentioned: the Mormon belief is that American Indians are the descendants of "Lamanites," a group of Jews who sailed to North America circa 600 BC. There are Mormon folktales about Lamanite gold and secret caverns.

A few months ago, there was a news story about a fortune in silver bars being stolen from a suburban Salt Lake City home. And the home belonged to a member of a polygamist offshoot of the Mormon church.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Gingerman said...

It's a sad, sad situation. People have died rather than defend themselves on charges that aren't that serious, except that they touch on personal honor.

Mormonism teaches personal responsibility, and obeying the civil law. Suicide is ultimately the most selfish form of evasion of responsibility.

I believe that the law breaking isn't rooted in Mormon belief, or Masonic belief (I don't know of any relationship between Manasseh and Masons), but rather is rooted in westerners' contempt for American Indians. If the majority population is Mormon, then more Mormons are going to be involved in any event that occurs.

It's so sad that otherwise good people would take this route rather than accepting that they broke the law, if in fact they did break it. That's what courts are to decide. Sometimes we forget that others believe that what we say and do: that we mean it.

richard said...

i have been a lds member for fourty years, have studied the church and its history for nearly as long; have always found it one of my greatest interest.
Of all the things i have learned, is that the church has many enimies and, are willing to believe anything negative about the lds church.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am not seeing any connections here. However, when it comes to strange objects, well, Loren you should have blogged on Smith's interest in Egyptology. He had a mummy and several Egyptian papyrus. I can't recall offhand, but I think his iterest was that he believed the hieroglyphics proved his writings to be true.

Anyway, the mummy is more than likely still in the possession of the Mormon Church, probably hidden away in some basement or locker in Salt Lake City.

A. Magnus Publius said...

The whole 'Lamanite' story sounds to me like another attempt to promote the 'British Israel' theory by different means. It's amazing how people will try to ride the coattails of another religion just to make themselves feel superior in some way. Everyone wants to be Yahweh's chosen people but nobody wants to do the hard work to get there...

Lance M. Foster said...

Shabbona was an Ottawa who became a chief of the Potawatomi; not only is he tied to the history of Illinois, he also moved to Iowa for a time, before moving to Nebraska and then back to Iowa. Like Illinois, Iowa has an important role in Mormon history, namely the Mormon Trail.

Shabonna counseled my own ancestor Black Hawk of the Sauk not to fight the white man, which Uncle did anyways in the Black Hawk War of 1832. After his death, Black Hawk's grave was vandalized and his body stolen by the whites. The museum in Burlington, Iowa, where Black Hawk's body was on display burned down under mysterious circumstances and the body never recovered.

Many objects themselves can affect the fate of those who come to them with bad consciences and much secrecy. One aspect is the animism of objects, as I discuss in “The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon” on my blog “The Sleeping Giant: Bioregional Animism in Montana”

Another aspect are the spirit guardians of graves.
In the Four Corners area, this is now known as Dinetah..Navajo Country... when I attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, some Navajo friends told me about the Chindi, a type of ghost that comes to exact revenge, such as against people who disturb graves. The Chindi can also be called up by Native sorcery, what the Navajo and Pueblo people call "witches."

You can read more about the Indian burials issue and American guilt and folk belief in my Paranormal Montana post at "Old Indian Burial Grounds":

Anonymous said...

My late husband was a Native American medicine man from Alberta, Canada. For many years, the Aboriginal Peoples in Canada were forbidden to perform their ceremonies and to use their ceremonial tools. My husband talked about how his grandfather was actually put in jail and had his ceremonial items destroyed so he could not use them anymore.

My husband always said that the Canadian Government and the Church, particularly the Jesuits, outlawed the ceremonies because they knew the "power" that was in them and they knew that, through ceremony, the Aboriginal people could affect events, etc.

This is why many of the artifacts are still kept on display in Museums or stored away-- because they really don't want the Native Peoples to get their hands on them. Things are changing now, and there are repatriation efforts going on to return the artifacts, but my husband always said that it was because the way to use these things have been forgotten by many.

You may think I am a little nuts, but I believe the Mormon Chursch knows the power and value of these items, and that's why they have been collecting them. The pottary shards are useless-- it's the pipes, crystals, and even certain rocks -- that are valuable because of their uses in ceremony.

Anonymous said...

Another thing -- my late husband would agree with what L.M. Foster said about what can happen to people who disturb graves or take artifacts that don't belong to their families. My husband always talked about the spirits of the ancestors, and how they would protect certain places and things. When people violate these places with bad intentions, bad things will happen to them, or they or a family member will get sick. And believe me, this is real-- not imaginary.

Anonymous said...

the mormon connection to this incident is ridiculous if you look at both sides of the case. The new Bureau of Indian Affairs head– and a big part of prosecuting the case is a former Brigham Young law professor and is obviously mormon. I'm sure that there are many other mormons involved in prosecuting the case as well. Kind of throws a wrench in your mormon conspiracy theory. Infact the only reference to mormonism in this article by the Salt Lake Tribune (which is notoriously anti-mormon) is that of Larry EchoHawk (The The Bureau of Indian Affairs head)

Anonymous said...

Loren, two things to mention-
First as long as I have been in the LDS I swear before God Himself I have NEVER seen that kind of handshake your blog shows in the .jpg. I hold the Melchezidek Priesthood, FYI.

Second, you and the feds apparently never heard of the mormon militia. Though I am LDS I am not a supporter of militant radicals that pose as a threat to the US Constitution. They do.

Ute Eagle said...

I stumbled across this accidentally. I live on the White Mesa Ute reservation. I moved out here in May of 2009. One night I had a strange dream, and in the dream a crazy looking white man with big eyes and torn clothes busted into the house that I am as in a ith relatives, and started yelling " I'm gonna take You, You, You , and You to Hell with me !!!!!! And then I woke up. My dad spoke highly of his Dr., Dr. Redd who I never had seen before. Then the Dr. Killed himself. About 3 days later, I was talking to my dad at his house, and he said , "You want to see what my Dr. Looked like" ? And I said, OK. Then he handed me the paper and the picture of Dr. Redd was the exact same man in my dream that was saying that he was going to take people to Hell with him !!!!! How about That !!!! Then I knew that this man was truly a Wicked Evil man....... Also the Mormon's down here are criminal and will steal, lie, and rip you off just to make money from you. I have some good friends that are Mormon, and they are not like that, but the majority of them over here hate the U.S.. Especially the Feds. It' blizzard to live over here, because the people are Wicked , and hide a lot of evil secrets from the outside world. I could write a Stephen King style novel with all of the corruption and wickedness that goes so n here. And their escape strategy is, that they are righteous Matters and everyone is out to hurt them. But they play real Nasty, and get their ways !!!!!!

Ute Eagle said...

Nice Info !!! I live by these people. They are Wicked Evil people....