Elder Marlin Jensen
Dear Elder Jensen:
The Board of Directors of the Mountain Meadows Association adopted this letter unanimously, in its present form, at their most recent meeting of December 8, 2007. You should expect similarly worded documents from both the Mountain Meadows Massacre Descendants and Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation.
While the focus and goals of our respective groups are somewhat different, there are several matters upon which we completely agree. Consequently, we felt that it was important to submit a joint letter in the hopes that it would avoid further confusion and controversy for all parties concerned. With that in mind, this letter is a joint request from all three of the Mountain Meadows organizations.
We have reached a consensus on several issues, including:
1. Support for National Historic Landmark designation for the massacre site.
The LDS Church has yet to indicate whether it will cooperate in this effort. We would prefer that it pursue NHL designation on its own initiative because that is what the descendant organizations want. Moreover, the LDS Church has considerable experience in securing similar protections for other sites such that it is uniquely qualified in this area. However, we are prepared to proceed on our own if the LDS Church is unwilling to do so. Since NHL designation requires the landowner’s approval, we would need a formal letter from the First Presidency supporting our effort if the LDS Church will not take the lead. We will be happy to draft the necessary letter if that is the case.
2. Location and marking of the upper gravesites.
Of utmost importance to all three groups is the location and marking of the upper gravesites. We support the use of non-invasive ground penetrating radar to definitively locate those graves such that they can be appropriately marked and protected. All three groups need to be involved and given an opportunity for input on any plans for marking the upper graves.
3. The LDS Church’s position on designation of the gravesites as a cemetery(s).
Each of our groups is committed to securing every protection possible for the gravesites. Consequently, we are interested in pursuing cemetery designation if it would advance that cause without interfering with or compromising other concerns. We would like to know the LDS Church’s position on this issue.
4. Possibility of graves on other than LDS Church owned property.
We understand that there is at least some speculation that there may be one or more graves located on property that the LDS Church does not presently own. We hope that it will make every effort to ascertain whether that is the case, and if so, to take whatever steps may be necessary to ensure their protection.
5. Communication and transparency.
We believe that substantial progress was made towards reconciliation and healing during our 150th activities. We also believe that the key to building on that progress will be an open and honest dialogue between each of our groups and the LDS Church from this point forward. Consequently, we request that you provide a uniform written status report on the progress of projects at the Meadows to each of us at least monthly. We, in turn, will disseminate information, poll our members, and respond accordingly to your inquiries. We believe that this sort of transparency and inclusion will minimize the risk of criticism and distrust that have too often attended good faith efforts to honor and protect the victims.
In closing, please know that each of us sincerely appreciates the efforts of the LDS Church to dignify and protect the Meadows. We hope that this jointly submitted letter marks the beginning of a new and productive chapter in the Mountain Meadows story. We look forward to hearing back from you soon and wish you the very best for this holiday season.
Terry Fancher, MMA President
(A copy of this letter was also submitted to Elder Jensen by the MMMD and the MMMF.)
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