Indigenous people from North Americans, Central and South American, and the Pacific Islands have had their heritage and history redefined within Mormonism. Mormonism teaches a replacement identity in the Book of Mormon – Lamanites.
The Book of Mormon teaches that the people identified as Lamanites turn away from God and become evil. God curses them by withdrawing the Spirit of the Lord from them, and gives them dark skin which is a sign of the curse. The purpose of dark skin in Mormonism is that it is a sign and warning to righteous people to not intermarry with them and is a warning of the Lamanite heritage of unrighteousness traditions. Indigenous traditions such as dancing, singing, and ceremonies have been demonized through these teachings. Skin color had been demonized through these teachings.
The introduction page states that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth”. (1)
When America was ¨discovered¨ many years of tribulation followed for Native Americans and the other groups of original inhabitants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints claims that God led Columbus to the Americas for a purpose. That the original inhabitants were evil and that God had given away the indigenous lands to white people – for they were more righteous. The church teaches that during this process the people colonizing America would help save indigenous peoples from the evil teachings and ignorance of their ancestors. This in no way respected or honored the real history of their ancestors, and also excused genocide and atrocities upon Indigenous peoples.
It is written in the Book of Mormon that “Lamanites” turned evil and were unable to live righteously, thereby God took their land from them and swept them from the land. The Book of Mormon states, “For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.” Book of Ether 2:10
What is the current narrative of the church? Do they still believe that the original inhabitants were pushed back and lost their land due to being unrighteous or evil? Missionaries are still actively teaching this. Do they still believe they know who and where the “Lamanites” are? Again, Mormon missionaries are still teaching people they are Lamanites. Is dark skin a curse, or a sign of a curse as stated in The Book of Mormon? How many cultures have been effected by The Book of Mormon narrative? From Alaska to Argentina, Hawaii, Samoa Islands, New Zealand, and more, this narrative has spread. They have all been identified as “Lamanites.” Is the narrative harmful to the people it is put upon? Is it helpful? And what of their true heritage and stories of their real ancestors? The Book of Mormon myth has had a massive impact on many cultures, how is it to be corrected?
These are all questions that should be asked.
- Smith, J. (1989). Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. Introduction Page. Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Print 14 July, 2017.