President Gordon B. Hinkley Goes
to Mountain Meadows
Denies Church was Involved
Idaho Statesman, 9/13/99, p. 10B
Rites honor massacre victims
LDS president
speaks for peace
The Associated Press

ST. GEORGE, Utah Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said he came "as a peacemaker" to speak at a ceremony Saturday dedicating a monument at the site of the Mountain Meadows massacre.

Settlers from Arkansas, bound for California, were killed after a five-day siege by Mormon Militia members and their Paiute allies on Sept. 11, 1857.

After being offered a truce, all the members of the wagon train, except those younger than 8 years old, were killed.

Many had hoped Hinckleys attendance would help close the chasm that has existed between descendants of those in the Fancher Party and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hinckley said no one can fully understand what happened.

"I come as a peacemaker. This is not a time for recrimination or the assigning of blame," he said at the ceremony that was broadcast to LDS Church buildings in Utah and Arkansas.

"No one can explain what happened in these meadows 142 years ago. We may speculate, but we do not know," Hinckley said. "We do not understand it. We cannot comprehend it. We can only say that the past is long since gone."

The bones of more than 30 victims were unearthed last month as crews prepared the new monument.

The state and descendants of the victims and their assailants installed a plaque Thursday at the site in the Dixie National Forest about 25 miles north of St. George.

The bones were put into a burial vault at the same location in a private service conducted by a Baptist minister from Arkansas who is married to a victims relative.

Hinckley said the church was not involved in the killings, and, "That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment on the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful and tragic day."