LINK: Native Americans & Jews: The Lost Tribes Episode, by David Koffman
Someone posted a link to this article a week or so ago at a Mormon-themed Facebook group I belong to. That group was interested in the article because, of course, the Book of Mormon arises from the belief that Native Americans are descended from scattered Israelites. What intrigued me most about the article is its discussion of how American Jews responded to this once widely entertained idea. From Koffman’s conclusion:
Many of the major figures in nineteenth-century American Jewry weighed in–in one manner or another–on the Jewish-Indian controversy. The practical stakes were never high, but the claim–so ubiquitous and so fluid (since it was used for so many different functions by so many different people)–was taken seriously and fretted over by Jewish leaders of very different orientations. The Lost Tribe theory had significant symbolic stakes–for Jews, Christians, and Native Americans. Linking America and its earliest inhabitants with the Bible and its theology, meant staking a claim on America–and championing God’s plan for the New World.