The identity of the mound builders of the Ohio Valley, those subsequently referred to as Hopewell after a farm where some of their artifacts were found, has long been a mystery. Yet by studying recent DNA markers it has been determined that they were the Cherokee, a southern branch of the New York Iroquois. The Iroquois have ties which go back to the Point Peninsula people who lived in New York between 500 B.C. and 400 A. D., a people who, with the aid of the Book of Mormon, can be tied to the Nephites, Mulekites, Zoramites, and Ishamelites—all of Hebrew origins.
A northern tier of mound-builders lived in southern Ontario where thousands of Nephites moved after fleeing the tensions rising in Zarahemla in the century before Christ. These early predecessors of the Ojibway tribes extended their villages from the borders of Quebec westward to Minnesota. Others moved south along both sides of the Mississippi where they traded with still others of their brethren who followed the Allegheny River from southwestern New York to the Ohio, then the Wabash River into Indiana, and from there into Illinois where they became known as the Illinois Hopewell.
As their mound culture rose, others joined them, with the mound building culture in Florida providing the Hopewell with a fluorescence which elevated it far above its former glory. Research suggests a considerable number of Celtic tribes and Irish Danites were also part of the Hopewell society, those who appear to have introduced the pagan rituals of sun-worship into the area. Unfortunately, while the Nephites back in Zarahemla worshiped one supreme God, the Mound Builders became a sun-worshiping people whose elitist society enticed a number of apostates in Zarahemla to moved southward to join them. Thus, two religions existed side by side, one an idolatrous, pagan religion and one whose people lived the law of Moses, many of which appear to have become the modern day Cherokee. Dr. Cyrus Thomas was the first to make that distinction in a report to the Smithsonian Institution on the Mound explorations of the Bureau of Ethnology in the early 19th century. In fact, he claimed the Mound Builders of the Allegheny River, those in southern Ohio, in the Kenawha Valley, and in eastern Tennessee were all the same people and the ancestors of the Cherokee.
Between the first century before Christ to the third century A.D., the Hopewell spread from its main cultural and ceremonial center in Ohio and Illinois into a variety of small, trading sub-centers found throughout the eastern United States, including parts of southern Michigan and Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The consolidation of such an immense network would not have been easy, but Dr. Cyclone Covey, of Wake Forest University, instructs us that a super chief referred to as Great Sun ruled the whole of it, likely from Newark, Ohio, through various sub-suns.
Thus, the people of the Hopewell tradition made up a wide-spread kingdom rivaling any around the world. Although each region was somewhat different, it is commonly believed that they were all living under one grand system of institutions, with the little band of Nephites in New York, those who had not joined the Hopewell, still clinging tenaciously to their worship of Christ, and doing their best to stay out of the hands of the Lamanites who wanted to kill them, and the Hopewell who wanted to convert them to their sun-worshiping ways, and thus destroy their souls. In fact, those in Zarahemla went so far as to distinguish themselves by a new name, that being the sons and daughters of Christ. In his address to his people King Benjamin said: “ . . . I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I do because they have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord.” (Mosiah 1:11.) When the Hopewell civilization fell (100 B.C.-350 A.D.), a considerable number of Nephites were among their numbers with all the evidence pointing to the last remnants of that society fleeing the land and heading southward toward Mexico. John Baldwin, in Ancient America said: “It has been said, not without reason, that the civilization found in Mexico by Spanish conquerors consisted, to a large extent, fragments from the wreck that befell the American civilization of antiquity.” B. H. Roberts, who believed the traditions found in Mexico of migrations from the north were speaking of Nephite migrations, wrote the following:
These moved southward in time, tribe pressing upon tribe, as ocean wave presses on ocean wave towards the shore; and doubles this movement of population southward after the disaster at Cumorah, accounts for those universal traditions found among the natives of Mexico and Central America of successive migrations from the north of powerful tribes or races who so much affected the political history of those countries. As these tribes from the north reached the old centers of population and civilization they revived settled orders of governments, fastened themselves upon the weaker inhabitants as their rulers, compelled industry among the lower orders, gave encouragement to the arts that minister to their ease and vanity, encouraged learning at least among the sacerdotal orders, and received the credit of founding a new order of civilization, when in reality, it was but a partial reviving of a former civilization, upon which they fastened the dark and loathsome Lamanite superstitious idolatry with its horrors of human sacrifice and cannibalism. 
Copyright © 1998 by Phyllis Carol Olive