The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full report, CLICK HERE.

Photo: A group of people gathered around a bonfire with mountains in the background. Robson Morgan, Unsplash

Brigham Young and his motley crew of Latter-day Saints trekked across the Plains and reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Four days later, legend has it that the church leader paused and said, “This is the right place.” They settled in the sage-filled wastelands of the Great Basin.

The wilderness of the western outpost now ghost town Old Paria, Utah, captured on May 15, 2019.
John Fowler, Unsplash

While contemporary accounts do not recall Young making this famous declaration, the declaration survives within Latter-day Saint memory. Folklore acts as an uncertain mirror, to borrow a phrase from William Wilson. It illuminates the cultural environment of a people and seamlessly weaves together the past with the present.

Austin and Alta Fife chronicle this cultural environment in their 1956 book “Saints of Sage and Saddle.”They wrote, “Reversing the formula of Montaigne, who attempted to paint himself because therein he saw an image of humanity, we have attempted to delineate the image of our own cultural environment so that therein we might the better see ourselves.”

More legend than history, folklore captures the universality and individuality of a culture. While roasting marshmallows around the campfire, consider telling these foundational folk tales. Expand and adapt them to preserve the vitality of the Latter-day Saint folk.

Saving the camp from starvation

Fife recorded a story from a Latter-day Saint doctor about his grandfather. His grandfather crossed the Plains with other pioneers. The pioneers soon became short on food, but his grandfather was an industrious man. He saddled up his horse to hunt and sighted a large buffalo. He quickly shot the buffalo, but his horse ran away after smelling the blood.

Soon it began to snow and his grandfather didn’t know what to do. Fife wrote, “Grandpa decided he wasn’t going to freeze to death out there on the Plains and the best thing he could do was to get in where it was warm, and so he climbed inside the buffalo.” He woke up suddenly to wolves eating the buffalo. His grandfather grasped the tails of the wolves and the wolves pulled him into the safety of the camp, where they ate the buffalo to avoid starvation.

To read the full report, CLICK HERE.