American Indians Do Not Descend Exclusively from Book of Mormon Peoples

We often called Native Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, and others "Lamanites", but does the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach that all such modern-day peoples descended exclusively from Book of Mormon ancestors? One of the most common misconceptions of Mormonism is to think so. But in fact, this is not the case. There is a great deal of LDS scholarship and pulpit teaching that says quite the opposite.

In 1993, Elder Dallin Oaks of the quorum of 12 Apostles of the LDS Church said that
the Book of Mormon is NOT a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth... (emphasis added)
Is this something new? Is it the first time any LDS leader or scholar has said something like this? No.

About two years before his death Joseph Smith mentioned favorably in the Times and Seasons newspaper an account of a possible migration from the old world to the new at the time of Moses--hundreds of years before Lehi's family came here.
the Toltecas themselves descended from the house of Israel, who were released by Moses from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and after crossing the Red Sea, fell into Idolatry. To avoid the reproofs of Moses, or from fear of his inflicting upon them some chastisement, they separated from him and his brethren, and under the guidance of Tanub, their chief, passed from one continent to the other, to a place which they called the seven caverns, a part of the kingdom of Mexico, where they founded the celebrated city of Tula.13
In 1921, in the LDS Improvement Era magazine, Janne M. Sjodahl was clear on the subject of not only possible but likely migrations of other peoples:
Are there in this country any Indians that are not descendants of these first Hebrew settlers? That is a question for the scientist to answer.
The Book of Mormon gives no direct information on that subject. It confines itself strictly to the history of the descendants of Lehi and Mulek. If science, after a careful investigation of the physical characteristics of the present-day Indians; their languages, their religious ideas, their myths and traditions, and their social institutions, should declare that there are evidences of other influences . . . that would not affect the authenticity of the Book of Mormon in the least.28

In the April 1929 General Conference of the LDS Church, Anthony W. Ivins, counselor in the First Presidency, noted that
We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon teaches the history of three distinct peoples...who came from the old world to this continent. It does not tell us that there was no one here before them. It does not tell us that people did not come after.And so if discoveries are made which suggest differences in race origins, it can very easily be accounted for, and reasonably, for we do believe that other people came to this continent.32
In the late 1950's
in a statement approved for publication by the First Presidency of the church in a comparative work on American religions, Elder Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the Book of Mormon as "part of a record, both sacred and secular, of prophets and peoples who (with supplementary groups) were among the ancestors of the American 'Indians.' "38
That and similar statements have been made several times since.

What about the idea that ancestors of Native Americans came from Asia? The LDS Church has been very open to that likelihood, as demonstrated by the findings of anthropology
In 1961, Latter-day Saint writer and Book of Mormon scholar Ariel Crowley thought it "beyond any question true" that the Americas had received periodic migrations across the Bering Strait at various times. It would be incorrect, he argued, for one to say "that all American Indians are descended from Israel. ...Crowley insisted that past statements by church leaders were never "intended to be critical analyses of racial ancestries, nor intended to exclude migrations from other nations and intermarriages with Nephite or Lamanite people."39 The Book of Mormon "is no more the history of all peoples and doings of past ages on the American continents than the Bible is a history of all the peoples and nations of the East."
In the first pages of volume 2a of his "Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon" LDS Meso-American scholar Brant Gardner cites anthropological studies that make it clear that during the time Lehi's family supposedly arrived in the new world, there were already likely hundreds if not thousands of indigenous peoples in that area.  Many of them were close enough to the coast that they could have seen Lehi's party coming, and they could have there to greet them when they came ashore or at least have known about their arrival. It is also likely, then, that the "Nephites" and "Lamanites" interacted and even intermarried with the populations that were already native at the time of their arrival.


  1. You can trace the father to son lineage and the mother to child lineage in an unbroken chain back to Adam/Eve or Y-Adam/mtDNA Eve. The Y chromosome gets passed almost unchanged from father to son. The mtDNA gets passed virtually unchanged from mother to daughter. Admixture can dilute all the other DNA passed from generation to generation, but two lines of your genetic ancestors, the paternal and maternal, can ALWAYS be traced. If there was a promise from God that there would be a remnant of the seed of Lehi, we should and HAVE found a group of people amongst Native Americans whose men descend directly from Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Whether or not they are 100% descended from the blood of Israel is unknowable and immaterial, but we have definitely found the remnant of Lehi. This is my research and would be happy to share more if you drop me message with your phone number.


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