Wednesday, February 5, 2014

James Michener analysis - part 6: Connecting the microcosm with the macrocosm


Recall that some Mormons believe that the members of certain American Indian tribes, are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were 10 of the original 12 Hebrew tribes, which, under the leadership of Joshua, took possession of Canaan, the Promised Land, after the death of Moses. They were named Asher, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and Zebulun — all sons or grandsons of Jacob. In 930 BC the 10 tribes formed the independent Kingdom of Israel in the north and the 2 other tribes, Judah and Benjamin, set up the Kingdom of Judah in the south. Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the 10 tribes were gradually assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared from history. Nevertheless, a belief persisted that one day the Ten Lost Tribes would be found. [a]

In part of Centennial, Michener tells the story of the chiefs and certain other members of twelve western American Indian tribes, coming together at a meeting on Arapaho/Cheyenne territory in Colorado to establish a peace treaty among themselves and the white settlers. The twelve tribes are the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Sioux, Ute, Comanche, Crow, Pawnee, Shoshone, Assiniboin, and the three 'stranger tribes' from the north: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. Michener is hinting that some combination of ten of these twelve tribes, represent descendants of the Ten Lost tribes of Israel.

The meeting of Indian tribes in Centennial is a 'microcosm' for what it is that certain high-ranking Mormons are currently up to. What is meant by this is that Michener believed that the Mormons are planning on gathering certain Indian tribes from all across the North American continent - this is the 'macrocosm' mentioned earlier - in order to establish Zion. The ten actual Indian tribes involved in the founding of the planned utopia, are to be taken from the tribes in seven of Michener's novels: Centennial, Hawaii, Chesapeake, Texas, Mexico, Caribbean, and Alaska. (Centennial's Levi Zendt, a Mennonite who moves west from Pennsylvania, represents that component of the real-life Mennonites who are helping the Mormons and other parties to establish the modern-day Zion.)

a. 'Ten Lost Tribes of Israel'. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 Sep. 2015. URL =


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