Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In The Book of Mormon, a Lamanite (BoM Arabic لاماني Lāmānī) is a member of one of three main tribes described in the book. The other two tribes are the Jaredites and the Nephites. The Lamanites, together with the Nephites, are described as descending from the family of Lehi, a wealthy Jewish merchant, who traveled from the Middle East in 600 BC to the Americas by boat. Nephites descended from the youngest son, Nephi, while Lamanites descended from the elder brothers, Laman and Lemuel.
According to the Book of Mormon there were many interactions between the Lamanites and the Nephites. Activities from war to trade to proselytizing were used by each one on the other to varying degrees and at different stages in their histories. The actual ethnic make up of each group seems to have shifted as the story progresses. The Lamanites initially are given a darker skin color from God due to their rebellion. At one point in the book the Lamanites and Nephites coexist for two centuries in peace (from about 30 AD to 230 AD) Shortly after this period of peace and cooperation between the two begins to decline along with a reestablishment of economic class distinction in both groups. Some time after 400 AD the Nephite culture and most if not all of its people were destroyed in a series of large wars between the Lamanites, Nephites and a renegade organization of robbers known as the Gadianton Robbers.
Theories about the modern descendants of Lamanites
Many Mormons consider Native Americans to be descendants of the Lamanites. Officially, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) appears to accept this position. The introduction to the Latter-day Saint (LDS) edition of The Book of Mormon states, "[T]he Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." See The Book of Mormon (2000), "Introduction."
However, this position is controversial. Based on genetic and archeological data, mainstream scientists have concluded that Native Americans are descended from the prehistoric inhabitants of East Asia. For this and other reasons, a few Mormon scholars view Lamanites as (1) one small tribe among many in the ancient Americas, the remainder of whom were not discussed in The Book of Mormon, (2) a tribe that intermarried with indigenous Native American cultures, or (3) fictional characters. See generally Thomas W. Murphy (2001). "Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics," Mormon Scripture Studies, <http://mormonscripturestudies.com/bomor/twm/lamgen.asp >
That Native Americans can still be referred to as "Lamanite" see <http://www.fairlds.org/apol/brochures/WhoAreLamanites.pdf >
Theories about Lamanites' "skin of blackness"
- "And he had caused the cursing to come upon [the Lamanites], yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, and they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." (2 Nephi 5:21).
While most Mormons consider this passage to mean that God actually darkened the Lamanites' skin, a few Mormons interpret the phrase "skin of blackness" more figuratively, or hypothesize that Lamanites may have intermarried with indigenous Native American peoples with darker skin.
Several Book of Mormon passages have been interpreted by some Mormons as indicating that Lamanites would revert to a lighter skin tone upon accepting Mormon teachings. For example, early editions of The Book of Mormon contained the passage: "[T]heir scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people." (2 Nephi 30:6). In 1981 and in subsequent editions of the Latter-day Saint edition of The Book of Mormon, the word "white" has been changed to "pure". Therefore, it is unclear what the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on this issue.
Another passage that has been similarly interpreted is 2 Nephi 5:21-21:
- And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity.... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
- And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
- And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
- And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.
- "Question: 'The question I have is concerning the present status of the Lamanites. I know that Laman and Lemuel and their families were cursed, but to what extent is this curse carried today? Was the darker skin all or just part of the curse? Will this curse be completely forgotten and taken away by the Lord on the basis of repentance and complete acceptance of the gospel?'
- Answer: The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord and the Lamanites becoming a 'loathsome and filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.'
- ... At the time of the Savior's visit to the Nephites all of the people became united, and the curse and the dark skin which was its sign were removed.
- ... After the people again forgot the Lord and dissensions arose, some of them took upon themselves the name Lamanites and the dark skin returned.
- When the Lamanites fully repent and sincerely receive the gospel, the Lord has promised to remove the dark skin.
- ... The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts are delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord. Perhaps there are some Lamanites today who are losing the dark pigment. Many of the members of the Church among the Catawba Indians of the South could readily pass as of the white race; also in other parts of the South.
Source: Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions. Vol. 3. 122 - 123 Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1959-1961.
Spencer W. Kimball, another apostle of the LDS Church, who later became president of the church, also spoke about Lamanites in October 1960, in the context of LDS missionary efforts:
- "(Navajo) ...are fast becoming a white and delightsome people." He said, "The Indian children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation" (Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-3)
This statement is similar to others by Kimball regarding Latter-day Saint attitudes towards Blacks. See Blacks and Mormonism.
- A "Meta-Mormons" group: http://www.salamandersociety.org/
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details