And now, these are the words: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. (2 Nephi 6:6-7)
Here Jacob quotes Isaiah to his people in the promised land to help them rejoice for their descendants. 

Now, if you are like me, you may find yourself asking, “In what way are the Gentile kings and queens nursing fathers and mothers to the remnant of the house of Israel?”

We know of at least one way that this has been fulfilled--through the church’s program of Latter-day Saint families fostering Native American children in their homes to help them get an education.  My mother remembers a Navaho boy staying with her family as part of this.  I learned more about this program as I was reading Spencer W. Kimball’s biography, since he was deeply involved in helping Native American members of the church.  If you are curious about it, I highly recommend reading that.

Are there other ways this scripture from Isaiah has been fulfilled?  I thought there might be, so I decided to do a little research on the history of the United States government’s policies with the Native Americans and what the status of the tribes has been, surrounded as they are by the United States.   I looked at a paper called “The History of Federal Indian Policies” by Robert J. Miller, professor of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, to get an overview.

We all know the Native Americans were pushed off their land time and again by American settlers because of Americans’ desire to explore and exploit natural resources.   Some important points I discovered were the following:
·      There was always a problem with settlers encroaching on Indian lands and interfering with Indian affairs.  Even England tried to outlaw going onto Indian land during the colonial era because it recognized that the problems lay on the side of the colonists.  When America gained independence and formed the Constitutional government, an important part of the decisions they made was how it would handle Indian affairs.  It was written in that all treaties and agreements and land transactions were to be handled only at the federal level, rather than at federal, state, and individual levels because meddling at all different levels caused misunderstandings and disagreements leading to wars and conflicts, which they wanted to end.   In my view, this is a kind of fulfillment of Isaiah’s words that kings and queens would be the nursing fathers and mothers; it captures that sense that decisions concerning the remnant are made at the highest level of government, rather than lower levels.
·      The status of the Native American tribes is a very peculiar one, legally.  There were two court cases, one in 1831 and the other in 1832 that still are applied today, which established two parts about the tribes’ status that are almost paradoxical.  Firstly, the tribes are the wards of the United States, and the United States is their guardian and owes a trust and responsibility to protect them as “domestic, dependent nations” because the Native Americans rely on the United States for protection and supplies.  Second, according to the United States’ historical treatment of tribes as “distinct, independent, political communities,” the tribes had exclusive authority in their territory to govern their land, citizens, and non-Indians who visit.  (Not that this has always been honored, but it is an established precedent.)

Wild, huh? 

So, the tribes are domestic dependent nations, but they are also distinct, independent political communities with their own governments!  The responsibility the United States owes to protect and foster the tribes is captured by Isaiah’s words about how kings and queens would be nursing fathers and mothers to the American remnant of the Israel.  The legal status of the tribes as dependent coincides with that of a child to a parent or guardian.

Shadow Dancer - Native American Dancing
The nursing aspect of Isaiah’s words has begun to be fulfilled at least since the 60’s when President Kennedy’s administration began to invest millions of dollars into tribal programs and infrastructure.  In 1970, President Nixon named the new Indian policy “self-determination.”  The Indian Self-Determination & Education Assistance Act of 1975 allows Indian tribes to plan, operate, and manage federally-funded tribal programs, something they were not allowed to do before.  Tribal self-government is being fostered and federal authority over the tribes is being delegated more to the tribes themselves.  Tribes are being given economic incentives to increase economic development.

Who would have thought that such a peculiar legal status could be captured by Isaiah’s words so simply? 

Now, do I think this is the final and complete meaning of Isaiah’s words?  No.  I strongly suspect that there is more to uncover, such as the treatment of native tribes in other countries in the Americas.  I am also curious about how the nation of Israel was formed in the 20thcentury and what the Gentiles had to do with that. 

We need to find out how prophecy is being fulfilled.  It is being fulfilled around us, and it strengthens our faith in Heavenly Father to see how His hand is working today to fulfill the promises He made through prophets so many centuries ago.  The fulfillments did not end with Joseph Smith’s lifetime.  It might be tempting to think they did, since we focus on those prophecies pertaining to him in the Book of Mormon.  But prophecy is being fulfilled today, and we must look for it and testify of it. 

If we don’t, who will?

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