Book of Mormon/Lamanites

Lamanites in the Book of Mormon

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

Lamanites and the Book of Mormon

Relationship of Amerindians to "Lamanites"

Who are the Lamanites?

Summary: Who are the Lamanites? When asked about the Church’s official position on this matter by a writer, a Church spokesman said: "As to whether these were the first inhabitants…we don't have a position on that. Our scripture does not try to account for any other people who may have lived in the New World before, during or after the days of the Jaredites and the Nephites, and we don't have any official doctrine about who the descendants of the Nephites and the Jaredites are. Many Mormons believe that American Indians are descendants of the Lamanites [a division of the Nephites], but that's not in the scripture."[1] Note that this reply pre-dates any publication of DNA criticism.

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Is Lehi the exclusive ancestor or among the ancestors of Amerindians?

Summary: LDS leaders have expressed a variety of opinions regarding whether or not all Amerindians are literal descendants of Lehi. Population genetics indicate that Lehi can likely be counted among the ancestors of all native Americans—a position that the Church has reinforced by changing the 1981 Book of Mormon introduction from "principal ancestors" to "among the ancestors."

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Relationship of the Maya and the Olmec to the Lamanites and the Jaredites

Summary: A common criticism is that LDS associate the Nephites and/or Lamanites with the Maya, and the Jaredite civilization with the Olmec. It is easy, based upon typical artistic representations used by the Church, to see why LDS typically associate the Nephites or Lamanites with the Maya. The assumption by critics that LDS associate the Nephites and the Lamanites with "the Maya" is an oversimplification of the facts. Most Church members view "the Maya" as a single, homogeneous group of people whom they associate with the magnificent ruins of the Classic Mayan civilization found in Mesoamerica. However, the Classic period occurs after Book of Mormon times. LDS research has focused on identifying the characteristics of the Preclassic Mayan culture, which does indeed cover the time period addressed by the Book of Mormon.

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Referenced in the Doctrine and Covenants

Summary: Since in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord refers to American Indians in North America as "Lamanites" (e.g., DC 28:8-9,14, DC 30:6, DC 32:2, DC 54:8), does this cause problems for the Limited Geography Theory (LGT) or issues of Amerindian genetic data?

Statements by Church leaders related to the identity of the Lamanites

A collection of all known statements made by Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites

19th century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 19th-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.

20th century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 20th-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.

21st century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 21st-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.


Relationship to Polynesians

Polynesians as descendants of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon

Summary: It is claimed that the Church has expanded the definition of "Lamanite" to Polynesians. Modern day prophets have repeatedly declared that Polynesians are Lamanites. The patriarchal blessings of Polynesians often state that they are of the tribe of Manasseh (through Lehi).

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Statements from Church leaders about Polynesian origins/identity

Summary: A collection of various statements from Church leaders about Polynesian origins/identity


The Lamanite curse

What was the Lamanite "curse?"

Summary: It is claimed that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned. "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."


Notes


  1. Stewart Reid, LDS Public Relations Staff, quoted by William J. Bennetta in The Textbook Letter (March-April 1997), published by The Textbook League (P.O. Box 51, Sausalito, California 94966).