Ancient Histories and the Mulekite Landing
by Alan C. Miner and Kirk Magleby
Extract from Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon by Alan C. Miner
Omni 1:16 [The Mulekites] Were Brought . . . across the Great Waters, into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them:
Sixteenth Century Historians' records of the Mulekites:
Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl:
If we assume a Mesoamerican setting, we could refer to the writings of a sixteenth century native-born scholar of Mexico named Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. The writings of Ixtlilxochitl tell of a group of people called Ulmecas and Xicalancas (Mulekites?) who settled among the first settlers (Jaredites?). The new settlers landed on the coast of Veracruz and migrated. The Ulmecas and Xicalancas were put under bondage by the first settlers, who were called giants or Quinametzin. (Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl Obras Historicas)
The Lords of Totonicapan:
According to the history of the Quiche Maya, in a document entitled The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, these Lords believed that “they came from where the sun rises, descendants of Israel, of the same language and customs. After tarrying for a time on the shores of a lake, they eventually made their way to what appears to be the regions of the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. From there, they went up the Usumacinta and the Grijalva Rivers into what is now Chiapas, Mexico and the Peten area of Guatemala..” (P. Dionisio Jose Chonay, Title of the Lords of Totonicapan)
The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan:
This native Quiche Maya document describes a group of people who were descendants of Abraham and Jacob and who crossed the ocean and settled in the area of the Bay of Campeche. “They were an agriculture-based people who lived in houses made of sticks. They had things in common.” ((P. Dionisio Jose Chonay, Title of the Lords of Totonicapan)
Fray Bernardino de Sahagun:
The sixteenth century Catholic writer, Sahagun, records the following regarding the landing of a particular group of people in Mesoamerica: "Countless years ago these first settlers arrived in these parts of New Spain (Mexico), and they came in ships by sea approaching this northern port; and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoayan, 'place where they arrived who came by sea,' now corruptly called Pantlan (Panuco)." (Barnardino de Sahagun, Book Nine)
Panuco is near the present day city of Tampico, Mexico. The settlers traveled along the Gulf Coast of Mexico and eventually settled in the areas of Campeche and Chiapas on the southeast side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Juan de laTorquemada:
Torquemada also talked about the same people.
(Juan de la Torquamada, Monarchia Indiana. Vol 1)
The Annals of the Cakchiquels:
A native Mesoamerican document similar to the one above describes what was apparently the same group of people and states:
1. they came from the north (Tampico),
2. they arrived at the Gulf of Mexico (Veracruz and Tabasco),
3. they lived many years in the region of the lagoons of Terminos (Campeche). (Recinos and Goetz, The Annals of the Cakchiquels)
Questions and Answers about the Mulekites:
What was the nature of the Jaredite - Mulekite relationship? Did the Mulekites settle among the Jaredites (Olmec)? Or did the Mulekites establish Zarahemla on the periphery of Jaredite culture?
The Jaredites & Mulekites were contemporaries for about 200 years until the Jaredite collapse. The Mulekites did not migrate very far away from their original homeland in Zarahemla Omni 1:16. When the Mulekites discovered Coriantumr, he was not previously known to them Omni 1:21. Coriantumr lived the last few months of his life among a strange people Omni 1:21, Ether 13:21. No one in the Mulekite community had enough experience with Jaredite culture to translate Coriantumr's stela. It remained a mystery to them until Mosiah I come down to Zarahemla from Nephi with the interpreters which allowed him to read Coriantumr's inscription Omni 1:20. Answer: The Mulekites did not establish Zarahemla among the Jaredites. They lived on the margins of and somewhat isolated from the strong influence of the Jaredite culture core.
Where were the Mulekites most likely to have founded their capital city?
Where do ocean-going migrants typically locate first generation cities? Think Boston on the Charles, New York on the Hudson, Philadelphia on the Delaware and Augusta on the Savannah. Think London on the Thames, Alexandria on the Nile and Shanghai on the Yangtze. Answer: The most likely place for the Mulekites to have founded their city was in a coastal plain, on the navigable portion of a major river, upstream from the seasonal floods in the delta but not beyond the head of navigation at the fall line. Portland on the Columbia, Buenos Aires on the Plata, Seville on the Guadalquivir - the list could go on and on. The best Book of Mormon scholarship has the Mulekites landing first at the mouth of the Papaloapan River in southern Veracruz Alma 22:30, Helaman 6:10, then coasting along the Gulf of Campeche. They must have investigated the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos River and the mouth of the Mezcalapa-Grijalva which at that time ran where the Tonala River flows today. The Mulekites almost certainly did not abandon their ocean-going vessel(s) and portage their goods inland past the fall line on their river of choice. Such behavior is simply atypical of first generation settlers arriving by sea. Movement by water is so much more energy efficient than overland cartage, that historic settlement patterns favor the area downstream from the head of navigation. Upstream areas tend to remain "wilderness" for generations.
Did the Mulekites site Zarahemla in a populated area? Answer: No. The Book of Mormon text specifically says they established their city in a wilderness Mosiah 25:2, Alma 22:31.
What was the nature of the Mulekite - Nephite relationship prior to the mass migration under Mosiah I? The two groups were totally isolated - unaware of the other's existence for hundreds of years Omni 1:14. Their languages evolved to become so dissimilar that at initial contact they could not understand each otherOmni 1:17. Answer: They had no relationship - zero communication for centuries.
What was the nature of the Land of Zarahemla - Land of Nephi relationship during the reigns of Kings Mosiah I, Benjamin, Mosiah II, Zeniff, Noah, Limhi, Lamoni & Lamoni's father? The first group who made the journey enjoyed divine help Omni 1:13. Subsequent travel happened intermittently, but the routes were not yet well-established. Groups got lost as they traveled or attempted to travel between the two lands Mosiah 7:4, Mosiah 8:8, Mosiah 21:25. Tracks became impossible to follow after only a few daysMosiah 22:16. People even got lost trying to find their way back home Mosiah 23:35, 36. People who had been on the trail recently and more or less knew the way still did a lot of wandering around Mosiah 9:4. There was little or no regular communication Omni 1:30, Mosiah 7:14. Former Nephites introduced writing to the Lamanites Mosiah 24:6, which fueled an immediate economic boom Mosiah 24:7. Answer: Travel was very difficult and unpredictable. Many journeys suffered delays or outright failure because the guides became disoriented and could not decide which way to go. Communication was almost non-existent.