Arrogance led to beliefs and statements that the people of The Book of Mormon populated all of the Americas. Now, with no DNA evidence to substantiate those claims, and no archaeological evidence, Book of Mormon scholars are liking theories that limit the geography to a smaller area – that of Mesoamerica.
As stated on our “The Geography of” page, The Book of Mormon does not support a geographic model located in Mesoamerrica. To substantiate our claim that everything occurred near the Hill Cumorah in Western New York, in a relatively small area (Erie to Rochester), we will show that the book says their people were more of a subset than anything else. And when they referred to a sudden or large population growth, they were calculating their integration with the locals – the American Indians – just as the French and Colonists did during their wars.
After a mere 55 years after landing near Erie, PA, a man by the name of Sherem came in among the people:
1 And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem. (Jacob 7)
Jacob says he was knowledgeable and knew their language and tried to persuade their beliefs:
4 And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil. (Jacob 7)
After Jacob confounded this man and his teachings, Sherem confessed the error of his ways to “a multitude.” Where did this multitude come from? Lehi’s family did not produce them after a mere 55 years. Those people were already present.
17 And it came to pass that on the morrow the multitude were gathered together; and he spake plainly unto them and denied the things which he had taught them, and confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels. (Jacob 7)
It was also during this time that Jacob spoke out against polygamy. How could that come about unless there were more women? No doubt the locals were fascinated by these white men, and would have been easy to take advantage of:
24 Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines which thing was abominable before me saith the Lord
26 Wherefore I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old (Jacob 2)
Obviously there was a greater indigenous population compared to the Nephite population. This is what Jarom said:
6 And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land and the Lamanites also and they were EXCEEDING MORE NUMEROUS than were they of the Nephites. (Jarom 1)
In fact, later when the Nephites moved to the city of Zarahemla and joined with their numbers, together, they were not half as numerous as the locals:
3 And there were not so many of the people of Nephi and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were NOT HALF SO NUMEROUS. (Mosiah 25)
Jacob also said that wars had already occurred, and that they had armies their numbers were so great.
24 And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually.
25 Wherefore, the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might, trusting in the God and rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became as yet, conquerors of their enemies. (Jacob 7)
In the end, after 1000 years of history among the American Indians (600 BC – 400 AD), the Nephites (Believers in Christ.) were hunted down, destroyed, and all traces of them and their religion purposely removed:
14 For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would DESTROY OUR RECORDS AND US, and also ALL THE TRADITIONS OF OUR FATHERS. (Enos 1)
8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they SHOULD BE CAST INTO THE FIRE; and they also BROUGHT FORTH THEIR RECORDS which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire. (Alma 14)
13 And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them.
14 But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.
15 But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.
16 And they have been handed down from one generation to another by the Nephites, even until they have fallen into transgression and have been murdered, plundered, and hunted, and driven forth, and slain, and scattered upon the face of the earth, and mixed with the Lamanites UNTIL THEY ARE NO MORE called the Nephites, becoming wicked, and wild, and ferocious, yea, even becoming Lamanites. (Helaman 3)
7 And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, EVEN UNTIL THEY ARE NO MORE; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites. (Mormon 8)
This outcome was even foreknown and prophesied of:
16 For those who SHALL be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust. (2 Nephi 26)
10 And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.
11 Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even UNTIL THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI SHALL BECOME EXTINCT—
12 Yea, and this because they shall dwindle in unbelief and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come.
13 And when that great day cometh, behold, the time very soon cometh that those who are now, or the seed of those who are now numbered among the people of Nephi, shall no more be numbered among the people of Nephi.
14 But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them, all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they SHALL BECOME EXTINCT. And now, because of iniquity, this prophecy shall be fulfilled. (Alma 45)
Q. If all the people were either destroyed or integrated with the Native American Indians, what became of the promises associated with the tribe of Joseph as given by Jacob and Moses?
A. Lehi’s family was only one of the many descendants of that tribe. Joseph Smith himself fulfilled prophecy through that tribe, and yet he was not born a Native American Indian. Those prophecies can easily be fulfilled outside of the descendants of Lehi.
Q. What about the promises pertaining to this land?
A. All promises offered to the families of Jared and Lehi remain with whomever inhabits the land.
Q. What about the promises associated with the Lamanites, and the remnant of Jacob?
A. The Nephites always viewed the Lamanites (Native American Indians) as God’s children, their brothers, and through integration, they became heirs of the promises as well.
Q. If the Book of Mormon people were nothing more than a subset of a larger pre-existing population – the American Indians, why won’t Book of Mormon scholars study the Native American Indian nations of Western New York?
A. Book of Mormon scholars are tied to the Mesoamerican framework and until that changes they will not look at the North American Indian tribes.
If any one of Joseph’s churches had committed even one-tenth of their time, money or energy to the study of the tribes surrounding the Hill Cumorah, they would have already discovered supporting evidence for The Book of Mormon.
As it stands, the Lord did not want them to find supporting evidence while The Book of Mormon was solely associated with the Mormon Church. The Book belongs to the body of Christ, and as soon as it is no longer associated with the Mormon Church, the evidence will come.