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This book, published 55 years prior to the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, contains some powerful evidences for why Mr. Adair strongly felt from his forty years of personal observations that the American Indians were direct descendants of The House of Israel, and perhaps part of the Lost Ten Tribes. In his efforts to scientifically determine their historical origins, the first 100 pages of his book presents 23 "Arguments".

Originally published in London in 1775, and translated to German in 1782, some have speculated that influenced the writings of Joseph Smith and the writings of the Book of Mormon. However, this book focused primarily on the native americans of the southeastern United States. There is no evidence of that it ever made it's way into the Smith household.

Although many modern historians have attempted to discredit his conclusion of jewish ancestry of the indians, they all keep this book in the highest regard for it being an extraordinarily rare eyewitness account and interview record of these peoples before their customs and traditions were corrupted by the influence of the European settlers who forced them into reservations far west of their original ancestral homelands.

In 1843, years after his death, a great many of his descendants (James Richey, George W Adair, Elizabeth Carson, and many others) then living in Alabama and Mississippi would quickly join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when approached by Mormon missionaries traveling with copies of the Book of Mormon and finding in their many teachings that closely resemble that taught by their great-grandfather, James Adair. This group would become a core basis of the Mississippi Saints that would emigrate westward to help settle Southern Utah and the Cotton Mission.

23 Arguments

"Arguments, and Observations, in proof of the American Indians being descended from the Jews"

In all of these arguments, James Adair, highlighted how they are so similar to Israelite customs and contrary to religuous practices of other groups that were based on multiple deities, sex-rites, nature, etc.

  1. Tribal Organization: They are strongly affiliated in family clans resembling that of House of Israel in the old testament.
    1. While strongly hostile and distrusting to other clans, they are fiercely loyal to their own clan.
    2. Amongst their own clan they will freely share "all things in common" - reminscent of 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon and The United Order
    3. Tales of all tribes originally crossing the Mississippi River from the western territories centuries ago.
    4. Similarities in tribal languages, while different they had strong similarities in structure. For example they all had the same term for buffalo, "Yanasa".
  2. Supreme Deity Belief: In stark contrast to all of the other pagan religions of the world (animal worship, nature worship, ancestor worship, multiple deities of the vikings, romans, creeks, etc), they strongly shared in the Abrahamic belief system of a single all-powerful being that resided high above the clouds and took a strong interest in the doings of man.
    1. They are totally lacking in any form of a man-made idols as idol worship is a key worship element for most every other religious system in the world, yet strictly accordance with the second of the ten commandments given to Moses.
  3. Theocracy Government: Most tribes believe that their God is the ultimate ruler of their society.
    1. Belief in prophets that can learn the word of God to share with their people on how to conduct themselves
    2. They view their own tribe as God's chosen people and are thus scornful of others
    3. Believe that God is omnipresent.
  4. Ministering Angels: They have many stories of good angels that come to help them in time of need. Also a great fear of evil spirits that might torment them.
  5. Linguistic Similarities: Construction of sentences, etc.
    1. Yo-He-Wah - name of Cherokee deity (Jehovah?)
    2. Kish - derogatory name for people held in low regard. (See Biblical Kish)
    3. Elias Boudinot, in his book Star of the West, Chapter 3, similarly makes an amazing comparison of various indian languages to the Hebrew.
  6. Count Time Like the Hebrews: Similar method based on seasons of the year and lunar months
  7. High Role of Prophets: (Amos 3:7) Prophets and High Priests esteemed as critically important a religious man who must live a virtuous life to be worthy to share the word of God with the people.
    1. Temples as a holy ground for communicating with God
    2. Early Cherokee forefathers were highly regarded for their exceptional ability to commune with God.
    3. Religious vestments worn as part of performing their priestly duties
    4. Personal virtuous conduct a key element to be able to perform their duty
    5. Some used a type of "seerstone" in performing their duties, rain dances, and other ceremonies.
  8. Religious Festivals:
    1. Holy Fire important to consuming the sacrifices after the manner of Solomon's Temple
    2. Frequent chants and songs of "Ha-le-lu-yah" (Halleluyah) and "Ye-ho-way" (Jehovah)
    3. Many ceremonies represent a cleansing or atoning for sin.
    4. Prepared altars of earth on which to make sacrifice
    5. Fasting in ceremonies to draw one closer to God.
  9. Daily Sacrifice: The very best piece of each meal is cast into the daily meal fire as a sacrifice to the Holy Spirit.
    1. Reverence and prayer made with the primary meal of each day
  10. Washings for Ablution of Sin: Frequent bathing for religious reasons, even in cold weather.
    1. Sacred customs to annoit oneself with oil. Usually bear oil, palm oil, etc.
  11. Mosaic Laws for Uncleanness: Rituals for keeping apart from menstruating women, open wounds & sores, dead bodies, childbirth, graveyards. Contact with any of those made one unclean and brought down curses on the individual and the community.
    1. Frequent mentions of a war-ark, similar to the ark of the covenant, that warriors would carry into battle.
  12. Avoid Eating Unclean Foods- Also avoid eating the blood of any animal.
  13. Laws of Marriage, Divorce and Adultery
  14. Criminal Punishments
    1. Eye for and Eye
  15. Cities of Refuge
    1. Laws of Mercy and Justice
  16. Purification and Fasting Ceremonies - preparation to have companionship of the divine preparatory to war or other major task.
    1. Petition the divine for success
    2. The "War-Ark" similar to Ark of the Covenant. Follow Levitical rules in its handle, transport and care.
    3. Religious Ceremony before and after warfare
    4. At home women observe strict laws of purity to petition help for the warriors in the field.
    5. White equals sign of peace and holiness
  17. Personal Ornaments - Copy Jewish style for beads and bracelets
  18. Care for the Sick - Begins with lots of prayer and calls to Ye-Ho-Wah before applying any medicines
    1. Ordination of Holy Men
    2. Bowing posture in prayer and religious dance
    3. Use of Sacred Incense
  19. Burial of the Dead - Rich men buried with their treasures
    1. Gather bones of loved ones to return ancient family burial site (see Jacob and Joseph of Old Testament)
    2. Wash and anoint bodies for burial prep
    3. Religious ceremony for funeral
    4. Carved image of dove (Noah's symbol of peace) to watch over the cemetery
    5. Memorial altars consisting of "Heaps of Stones" to help remember lost loved ones
    6. Treasures buried with the dead
    7. Story of the Brass Plates and Copper Plates kept by Creek Indians in a Holy Temple near Tuccabatches.[1]
  20. Widow's Mourning Period (Again similar to scene in movie Dances with Wolves) Ten Month period of separation and mourning.
  21. Surviving Brother to Raise Up Seed - children bare name of lost brother
  22. Changing of Names - Just like Jacob to Israel, they change their names to match their present circumstances
  23. Historical Traditions - Earliest traditions of most tribes tell that they came from a land very far away.
    1. The tribes of southeastern US tell of when their forefathers first crossed the Mississippi from the land westward.
    2. Note: James Adair in this section is highly critical of early European explorers who painted a very corrupted history of the indians they encountered to justify the violence of the early Conquistadores.
    3. Matrilineality Descent in Judaism - Adair makes many references to the importance of Maternal family descent in native american tribes, apparently without realizing it is an important Hebrew tradition that dates back to Moses.
    4. Liahona Story : Adair found one indian tradition that when they left their ancient land, they were guided by a great oracle, a sanctified rod, which they fixed every night in place in the ground and to continue moving until it budded in one night's time and the last place it budded was after they arrived on the east side of the Mississippi. While he thought is referenced the Rod of Aaron, to me it sounds more like the Liahona.


  1. New Witness for God by. B.H. Roberts (1909), pg 64 - Quotes Adair on the Tuccabathes plates.

See Also