Joseph with the Lamanites of “This Land”
“At length, on the 2nd day of July, 1843, President Joseph Smith and several of the Twelve met those chiefs in the court-room, with about twenty of the elders. The following is a synopsis of the conversation which took place as given by the interpreter:—
The Indian orator arose and asked the Prophet if the men who were present were all his friends. Answer—”Yes.”
He then said—”We as a people have long been distressed and oppressed. We have been driven from our lands many times. We have been wasted away by wars, until there are but few of us left. The white man has hated us and shed our blood, until it has appeared as though there would soon be no Indians left. We have talked with the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit has talked with us. We have asked the Great Spirit to save us and let us live; and the Great Spirit has told us that he had raised up a great Prophet, chief, and friend, who would do us great good and tell us what to do; and the Great Spirit has told us that you are the man (pointing to the Prophet Joseph). We have now come a great way to see you, and hear your words, and to have you to tell us what to do. Our horses have become poor traveling, and we are hungry. We will now wait and hear your word.”
The Spirit of God rested upon the Lamanites, especially the orator. Joseph was much affected and shed tears. He arose and said unto them: “I have heard your words. They are true. The Great Spirit has told you the truth. I am your friend and brother, and I wish to do you good. Your fathers were once a great people. They worshiped the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit did them good. He was their friend; but they left the Great Spirit, and would not hear his words or keep them. The Great Spirit left them, and they began to kill one another, and they have been poor and afflicted until now.
The Great Spirit has given me a book, and told me that you will soon be blessed again. The Great Spirit will soon begin to talk with you and your children. This is the book which your fathers made. I wrote upon it (showing them the Book of Mormon). This tells what you will have to do. I now want you to begin to pray to the Great Spirit. want you to make peace with one another, and do not kill any more Indians: it is not good. Do not kill white men; it is not good; but ask the Great Spirit for what you want, and it will not be long before the Great Spirit will bless you, and you will cultivate the earth and build good houses like white men. We will give you something to eat and to take home with you.”
When the Prophet’s words were interpreted to the chiefs, they all said it was good. The chief asked, “How many moons would it be before the Great Spirit would bless them?” He [Joseph] told them, Not a great many.
At the close of the interview, Joseph had an ox killed for them, and they were furnished with some more horses, and they went home satisfied and contented.”
BYU Studies Quarterly, Volume 5 Chapter 25 page 481
“Once the red men were many; they occupied the country from sea to sea — from the rising to the setting sun; the whole land . . . Thousands of moons ago, when the red men’s forefathers dwelt in peace and possessed this whole land the Great Spirit talked with them, and revealed His law and His will and much knowledge to their wise men and prophets. This they wrote in a Book . . . written on plates of gold and handed down from father to son for many ages and generations. It was then that the people prospered and were strong and mighty; they cultivated the earth, built buildings and cities and abounded in all good things, as the pale faces now do . . . This Book, which contained these things was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county . . . Thus ended our first Indian mission, in which we had preached the Gospel in its fullness and distributed the record of their forefathers among three viz.: the Cattaraugus Indians, near Buffalo, N.Y., the Wyandots, of Ohio and the Delawares, west of Missouri.”
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 56-6; Documentary History of the Church Vol 1: Footnotes 183:2-18
Just two months and twelve days before his death in 1877, Brigham Young was establishing a new stake in Farmington, Utah. In his discourse, he said the following: “Orrin P. Rockwell is an eyewitness to some powers of removing the treasures of the earth. He was with certain parties that lived nearby where the plates were found that contain the records of the Book of Mormon. There were a great many treasures hid up by the Nephites. Porter was with them one night when there were treasures, and they could find them easy enough, but they could not obtain them. When [Porter] tells a thing he understands, he will tell it just as he knows it; he is a man that does not lie. He said that on this night when they were engaged hunting for this old treasure, they dug around the end of a chest for some twenty inches. The chest was about three feet square. One man who was determined to have the contents of that chest took his pick and struck into the lid of it, and split through into the chest. The blow took off a piece of the lid, which a certain lady [Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph’s mother] kept in her possession until she died. That chest of money went into the bank. Porter describes it so he says this is just as true as the heavens are.”
Brigham Young Journal of Discourses (Liverpool, 1878), vol. 19:36-39.
“We shall now introduce much circumstantial evidence, from American antiquities, and from the traditions of the natives, etc. First, says Mr. Boudinot: “It is said among their principal or beloved men, that they have it handed down from their ancestors, that the book which the white people have, was once theirs: that while they had it they prospered exceedingly, etc. They also say, that their fathers were possessed of an extraordinary Divine Spirit, by which they foretold future events, and controlled the common course of nature; and this they transmitted to their offspring, on condition of their obeying the sacred laws; that they did, by these means, bring down showers of blessings upon their beloved people; but that this power, for a long time past, had entirely ceased.” Colonel James Smith, in his journal, while a prisoner among the natives, says: “They have a tradition, that in the beginning of this continent, the angels or heavenly inhabitants, as they call them, frequently visited the people, and talked with their forefathers, and gave directions how to pray. Mr. Boudinot, in his able work, remarks concerning their language: “Their language, in its roots, idiom, and particular construction, appears to have the whole genius of the Hebrew; and what is very remarkable, and well worthy of serious attention, has most of the peculiarities of that language.” There is a tradition related by an aged Indian, of the Stockbridge tribe, that their fathers were once in possession of a “Sacred Book,” which was handed down from generation to generation; and at last hid in the earth, since which time they had been under the feet of their enemies. But these oracles were to be restored to them again; and then they would triumph over their enemies, and regain their rights and privileges.”
Quoted from A Voice of Warning An introduction to the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chapter IV by Parley P. Pratt
“Oliver Cowdery wrote that the Ephraimites and the Lamanites were the “original settlers of this continent,” and that “an ancient prophet caused the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated to be buried nearly two thousand years ago, in which is now called Ontario County, New York. In this same issue, W. W. Phelps wrote that it was “by that book [the Book of Mormon] I learned that the poor Indians of America were of the remnants of Israel.” Many other times editor Phelps identified the land of America as being the place where at least some Book of Mormon history took place, including the last battles of both the Jaredites and the Nephites.”
(see Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, October 1835, and the letter of W. W. Phelps to Oliver Cowdery in that same issue.) Oliver Cowdery Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, pp. 158-159
Who and Where Are the Lamanites?
By Lane Johnson
To produce a map that shows where the Lamanites of the world are located today, the mapmaker must first decide exactly what a Lamanite is. This turns out to be no small task, because the term Lamanite is used in several different senses in the scriptures to describe a particular racial lineage, a political/religious group, a covenant people, etc. However, the Old and New Testaments and the Book of Mormon, viewed together in one limited sense as a partial record of the peopling of the earth, provide a useful context in which to view this problem.
The history of the peopling of the earth is really a history of the scattering of the descendants of Noah, who is sometimes referred to as the “second father of mankind.” This general scattering began soon after the Flood when the sons of Noah and their children began to spread forth “in their lands, … after their nations” (see Gen. 10:5, 20, 31) and was greatly accelerated at the time of the Tower of Babel, when the Lord confounded the people’s language and did “scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Gen. 11:9.)
Immediately after the description of Babel in Genesis 11, the Old Testament record moves quickly to Abraham, a descendant of Shem, and ceases thereafter to be a record of all the descendants of Noah; instead, it focuses almost entirely on the Lord’s covenant people, presumably a relatively small part of the earth’s total population at that time. We know very little about the remainder of Noah’s seed, except that in time they wandered throughout the extent of the land to become the heathen nations of the earth.
The nations of the earth had been dispersing from the Tower of Babel for 1,500 years when the Ten Tribes of Israel were carried captive into Assyria. Shortly thereafter, Judah was taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, and although one group was permitted to return to rebuild Jerusalem, the bulk of the kingdom of Judah remained in Babylon to be eventually dispersed. Then, in A.D. 70, the remainder of the Jews were driven from the promised land by the Romans to complete the scattering of Israel.
What we see in this brief account is a picture of the general dissemination of the descendants of Noah throughout the world, beginning at the time of the Flood, with other groups—remnants of Israel—breaking away at intervals to follow the earlier migrants to the various corners of the earth and establish themselves among them as strangers, though distantly related.
Within this broad picture we find the people of the Book of Mormon, which is a partial record of some of those who were, at various times, led out of the Old World by the Lord to become established in the American continents: the Jaredites, who were led away at the time of the Tower of Babel and were, therefore, a part of the earliest dissemination of the descendants of Noah; the Lehi colony, led out of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah, just prior to the captivity of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar; and the colony of Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, who departed Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi.
The term Lamanite was first applied to the literal family of Laman, Lehi’s eldest son. This name very soon took on a broader application, however, when Laman, Lemuel, and some of the sons of Ishmael rebelled against and sought to kill Nephi, in whom the Lord had vested his authority. At that time the Lord cut them off from his presence and caused a darker skin coloring to come upon them. (See 2 Ne. 5:19–21.) Thereafter the name Lamanite referred to a religious/political faction whose distinguishing feature was its opposition to the church. (See Jacob 1:13–14.) Lineage became an increasingly minor factor, and later there are many examples of Lamanites becoming Nephites and Nephites becoming Lamanites.
For nearly 200 years after the coming of Christ to the Americas, there were no Lamanites “nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” (4 Ne. 1:17.) Soon, however, a part of the people fell away and took upon them the name of Lamanites; “therefore there began to be Lamanites again in the land.” (4 Ne. 1:20.) Clearly, Lamanite in this case again refers to the state of righteousness of a political/religious group, presumably a composite of the descendants of many of the original colonists in the New World. The Lamanites of this definition survived beyond the close of the Book of Mormon record, and it is these people from whom the Lamanites of today descended. That is to say, they are the descendants of Lehi, Ishmael, and Zoram (see D&C 3:17–18); they are the descendants of Mulek and the others of his colony (see Hel. 6:10; Omni 1:14, 15); and they may also be descended from other groups of whom we have no record. Certainly they have mixed with many other lineages at the far reaches of their dispersal in the Americas and most of the islands of the Pacific since the time when Moroni bade them farewell in A.D. 421.
In this composite group is the blood of Israel, for we know that Lehi was of the tribe of Manasseh (see Alma 10:3), that Ishmael was of Ephraim (see JD 3:184), and that Mulek was of Judah, being a descendant of King David through Zedekiah. Therefore, the Lamanites of today—all the mixed descendants of the Book of Mormon peoples—have a legitimate claim to the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant and, in turn, the duty to now carry these blessings to those nations of the earth who yet remain in darkness, the remainder of the descendants of Noah.