More than a cursory reading of the Book of Mormon shows there were “others” already in the land where Lehi arrived:

“In 1980 Nibley continued teaching that it is a ‘simplistic reading of the book . . . [to] assume that the only people permitted in the hemisphere before Columbus were either descendants of Lehi or of Jared and his brother'” (Hugh W. Nibley, The Book of Mormon and the Ruins: The Main Issues, FARMS, 1980, p. 2; How Many Nephites?).

“When all the considerations we have reviewed are weighed, I find it INESCAPABLE that there were substantial populations in the ‘promised land’ throughout the period of the Nephite record, and very probably in the Jaredite era also.”

Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention ‘others’ but only that we READERS HAVE HITHERTO FAILED TO OBSERVE WHAT IS SAID” (John Sorenson, Nephite Culture and Society, 1997, p. 100; see also Nephi’s Neighbors).

Aside from the unaccountable population increases as Sorenson notes among the Lamanites, here are some other evidences:

…many of the people of Ammon who were Lamanites by birth (Helaman 3:12)

I am Mormon and a pure descendant of Lehi. (3 Nephi 5:20)

Lamanite…TRADITIONS OF THEIR FATHERS [another culture] (Mosiah 1:5; Alma 3:11, 9:16, 17:9, 19:14, 26:24, 37:9, 60:32; Helaman 5:19, 15:4)

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 1:14)

there were a certain number of the dissenters from the people of Nephi who had some years before gone over unto the Lamanites and taken upon themselves the name of Lamanites and also a certain number who were REAL DESCENDANTS OF THE LAMANITES [biologically] (Helaman 11:24)

And they [unbelievers] were taught to hate the children of God even as the Lamanites [racism] were taught to hate the children of Nephi [another culture] from the beginning. (4 Nephi 1:39)

This is a list of converted Lamanites:

9 The people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Ishmael;
10 And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Middoni;
11 And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the city of Nephi;
12 And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Shilom, AND who were in the land of Shemlon, AND in the city of Lemuel,  in the city of Shimnilom. (Alma 23)

The expression “of the people” implies the Lamanites were part of a larger group. Why this is confirming is because some of those lands were large and composed of two conflicting groups (Nephites and Lamanites) but the others had no Nephites in them at all so the “of the people” distinguisher based upon Nephite cohabitants does not work. It does for lands co-occupied by “Lamanites by birth” or “others” already there before Lehi’s group arrived. 

To support this premise we note that lands that were clearly Lamanite only populations Mormon does not use the expression “of the people” but simply says “who were in” and “and in” (x2). The Land of Ishmael on the other hand was the furthest land south of known Book of Mormon lands and had no Nephites in it whatsoever. Thus, “of the people” IS referring to pre-existing “others” who were the Hopewells that bordered Book of Mormon lands, extending southward in greater numbers along the Mississippi River.

To support that premise we will note that when Ammon offered to serve King Lamoni in the Land of Ishmael, there was a different group of “Lamanites” [i.e. “these Lamanites” “their own land” “among them” cited below] who were scattering the king’s flocks, whom Ammon cut-off their arms. It is doubtful those were the kings own people, scattering his flocks. They would have been punished by the King, not his servants. These were no doubt the descendants of Laman, Lemuel, or the wicked sons of Ishmael, harassing the locals just like they harassed Nephi:

22 And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the LAMANITES OR among HIS PEOPLE.
27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.
28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already. (Alma 17)

7 Now it was the practice of THESE LAMANITES to stand by the waters of Sebus to scatter the flocks of the people, that thereby they might drive away many that were scattered unto THEIR OWN LAND, it being a practice of plunder AMONG THEM. (Alma 18)

The story line in the Book of Mormon follows the premise that all their lands were solely the heirship of Lehi [later “Nephites”] which is not true. Mulek was led by God to inherit Jaredite lands (which included the Land Northward and Southward, but not Lamanite Lands i.e. everything south of the Lamanite Line of Possession (see Prince Malkijah – the Missing Chapter of Book of Mormon History, Geography, and Prophecy) and for this reason Mulek’s history was purposely left out, even though it was given (see Omni 1:18).

The same way that Mormon purposely left out the name of the Lamanite king whom he continually referred to as “the father of Lamoni” (5 times: Al.18:9; 20:8,9,14; 22:1) which it is assumed took up more space to engrave on the plates than a single name, and it is never used to refer to anyone else; the closest example is “the brother of Jared.” The future name of his converted people was “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” which meant “NOT-Nephi-Lehi” or in other words, they were neither Nephite nor Lamanite.

Points For Consideration

  • Name of the father of Lamoni is not given;  the phrase “the father of Lamoni” took more effort to write and more space on the plates.
  • “Lamanites” scattered their own kings flocks?
  • The father of Lamoni (a presumed descendant of Ishmael had never heard of the “Great Spirit”?)
  • The father of Lamoni allowed Amalekites to build synagogues in his land and knows nothing about them or their beliefs?

7 And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. (Alma 22)

Likewise, there exists a bias against those pre-existing people. The Colonists for many generations did the exact same thing with the American Indians and sought to minimize their numbers, abilities, and accomplishments—particularly the Smithsonian (see: The Lost Civilizations of North America, Director Rick Stout – DVD).

Seven Family Lines

These are the family lines traced in the Book of Mormon: Ishmaelites, Lemuelites, Lamanites, Jacobites, Josephites, Nephites, Zoramites (Jacob 1:13, 4 Nephi 1:36-38, Mormon 1:8-9). Why seven families only (excluded Samuel, Alma 3:6)?

See also: