Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Lamanites in the Americas

According to Spencer W. Kimball, “The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Of Royal Blood,” Lamanite Youth Conference, Salt Lake City, April 24, 1971). Joseph Smith and successive generations of Mormon presidents and apostles taught that the Nephites and Lamanites ranged over all or most of South and North America (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3vols, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City UT, 1955, Vol.3, 1955, pp232-243).

Theorists today continually debate where the Lamanites were located, and critics claim that there were no Israelites anciently in the Americas because of DNA studies, and other so-called scientific “evidences” showing a different beginning than that described in the Book of Mormon. On the other hand, we know with unalterable authority that Numerous American Indians are the descendants of Lehi through Laman and Lemuel, and of the sons of Ishmael, as well as defecting Nephites. Today, most of these live in simple manner, with many in poverty.

Impoverished home on the Reservation


In fact, Apostle Delbert L. Stapely stated, “In a sense I do not feel sorry for the Indian people because they are children of promise, belonging as they do to the house of Israel and are the posterity of Abraham, the father of the faithful, through whose lineage the Lord promised that all nations of the earth are to be blessed; therefore, they are a chosen race and people unto God, possessing a divine and royal heritage."

In addition, Bruce R. McConkie said: "When Columbus discovered America, the native inhabitants, the American Indians as they were soon to be designated, were a people of mixed blood and origin. Chiefly, they were Lamanites, the great majority are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, the dominant blood lineage is that of Israel."

Speaking of the American Continent in his day, which included both North and South America, and also Central America (Mesoamerica), Apostle Orson Pratt stated: "Here we present a record of this American continent, a history of a branch of the tribe of Joseph…a history of the Lord's dealings with them from the time they left Jerusalem until one of their principal nations fell in battle, because of their apostasy; and the descendants of the remaining remnant are this degenerated people we called Indians (today referred to as Indigenous People, or Original Americans), who still exist—which afterwards became a "multitude of nations." According to the blessing pronounced by the ancient patriarch Jacob, when blessing his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh… these Indian tribes are the blood of Israel.”

1929 General Conference with the Tabernacle Choir


Apostle Hyrum G. Smith added in a 1929 Conference, “the blood of Manasseh is found in the tribes and nations of the Indians of North and South America."

After travelling for about eight years in the wilderness and desert, Lehi and his extended family reached a plush green land in what is today Salalah, Omen, which Lehi called “Bountiful,” along the northern shore of the sea of Arabia, which Lehi called “Irreantum” (1 Nephi 17:5). Here Nephi built a ship in which they set sail and caught the winds and ocean currents (1 Nephi 18:8-9) toward the Land of Promise.

Being blown or “driven forth before the wind,” and ocean currents, Nephi’s ship was driven south from the Arabian Peninsula into the Indian Ocean gyre, which moved west to east on the bottom or southern current of the gyre’s counter-clockwise current. This brought them in contact with the Southern Ocean on which current they traveled eastward (south and eastward, or southeast, which was the direction written on Frederick G. Williams’ note in 1840).

These winds and currents took them around Australia and New Zealand and across the South Pacific to South America where the winds and currents (Humboldt or Peruvian) drove them northward to enter and land in the Bay of Coquimbo at 30º South Latitude (another match to Williams’ note) and settled immediately in what is today called La Serena, which joins the seashore next to Coquimbo.

Apostle George Q. Cannon, writing in his time, stated about their landing in South America: “Here stretches out before us this immense continent on the south, peopled with descendants of the house of Israel.” Elder Holland stated in South American conferences he held: “Almost a century has passed since a latter-day Apostle, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, prophesied that South America ‘is to be a power in the Church.’ Since that time, millions—from Colombia to Argentina and several nations in between—have joined the Church. Temples dot the continent. Hundreds of stakes have been formed.

South America has become a land of temples, with dedicated edifices found in several major cities—from Bogota in the north to Buenos Aires in the south. And the building continues. New temples have been announced or are under construction in Peru, Chile, and Brazil” (Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer, “Elder Holland Reports South American Prophecy Continues to Be Realized,” Church News, 4 March 2016)

After Lehi’s death, the Lord warned Nephi to flee into the wilderness to escape his brothers that sought his life (2 Nephi 5:5). He took those who would go with him, and traveled northward and settled where they lived for about 500 years in the land they called the Land of Nephi. At the end of that time, about 55 BC, a ship builder named Hagoth constructed exceedingly large ships, evidently for transporting people and their equipment and provisions, which course they took to “a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4-5).

Thus, those who traveled northward in Hagoths large ships and voyaged to that “land which was northward,” settled, with the empty ship returning the following year to Hagoth’s shipyard after depositing their immigrants in that “land was northward” (Alma 63:7).

The Central American Seaway from the Pacific to the Atlantic


This “land which was northward” was beyond the Central American Seaway when the Panamanian Isthmus was submerged and what is now Central America was not connected to South America—thus, “a land which was northward” would have been beyond this seaway, which brought them to Central America. It certainly was not the Land Northward, or the statement in the scriptural record would have been written:  

There were both Nephites and some Lamanites that traveled in Hagoth’s ships—therefore Central America and Mesoamerica were home to both Nephites and Lamanites were in these areas and built enormous pyramids and other buildings.

Of this, Apostle Gordon M. Romney in a 1957 Conference said, "Guatemala is a country of about three million people. About half of them still dress in the Indian costume of a thousand or two thousand years back. I went to present them with a Book of Mormon. I started to say, "I come to give you a copy of the Book of Mormon, a history of your people," and two chiefs immediately arose on their feet, and said, "We are of the House of Israel."
Elder Milton R. Hunter of the Seventy has written, "Following the discovery of America, the Quiches vigorously opposed marrying Spanish conquistadors and members of successive groups of European colonists. They have held tenaciously to a traditional custom practiced by the ancient Israelites and brought to America by the Nephites who I believe were among their forebears.”

President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Here he [God] has the Indian or Lamanite, with a background of twenty-five centuries of superstition, degradation, idolatry, and indolence. They may be Navajos or Cherokees, Mayas or Pimas, Piutes or Mohicans—and these living descendants will be redeemed, will rise and will become a blessed people. God has said it."

Joseph Smith said to a band of Sac and Fox Indians in 1844 that came and camped out in Nauvoo complaining "they had been robbed of their lands by whites and cruelly treated." Joseph Smith's response was: “I knew they had been wronged, but that we had bought this land and paid our money for it. I advised them not to sell any more land, but to cultivate peace with the different tribes and with all men, as the Great Spirit wanted them to be united and to live in peace. 'The Great Spirit has enabled me to find a book which told me about your fathers, and the Great Spirit told me, 'You must send to all the tribes you can, and tell them to live in peace;' and when any of our people come to see you, I want you to treat them as we treat you.'”

Indigenous Warriors of the Americas: LtoR: South American, Mesoamerica, and North America


Not until the revelations of Joseph Smith, bringing forth the Book of Mormon, did anyone know of these ancient migrants who came to the Americas. It was not known before, but now the question is fully answered. Now the Lamanites number about sixty million; they are in all of the states of America from Tierra del Fuego in South America, all the way up to Point Barrow, in Alaska, and they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand.

The Church is deeply interested in all Lamanites because of these revelations and because of the Book of Mormon giving their history that was written on plates of ore and deposited in the hill. The translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed a running history for one thousand years—six hundred years before Christ until four hundred years after Christ—a history of these great people who occupied this land for that thousand years.

Then for the next fourteen hundred years, they lost much of their high culture. The descendants of this mighty people were called Indians by Columbus in 1492 when he found them here, but they truly were the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon according to Spencer W. Kimball in the July 1971 issue of the Ensign: "Of Royal Blood.”
They came from Jerusalem with Father Lehi and have lived on the American continents ever since—descendants of the House of Israel that spread out over all the Western Hemisphere.

They landed in South America, where the events of the Book or Mormon took place, with a large number of immigrants traveling to Central- and Mesoamerica, of which the ruins of their buildings can still be seen, while others continued north over the years to settle in the Southwest, where their buildings are still visible in both the rock cities of the so-called Anasazi and pueblos mud-brick settlements.

1 comment: