Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DNA and the Book of Mormon Peoples ( Ancestry of the American Indians)

Native American Chiefs of Various Tribes
Much archaeological evidence exists to indicate other cultures were present then. It must be kept in mind that the Book of Mormon record, while documenting events for more than 3000 years, does so very incompletely, and then for only geographically limited groups (the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites). Some serious objections have been raised by many people, both LDS and especially non-LDS, regarding ancestry of the American Indians based on DNA evidence. Many claims have been made that these inhabitants all stem from Southeast Asian ancestors. In fact some current DNA studies indicate that samples taken from numerous American Indians do show an Asian ancestry, not one from the Middle East. However, there are also studies which show ancestry other than from Asia proper, and probably including Europe.

The matter of DNA and Book of Mormon peoples has been ably discussed by an active Latter-day Saint DNA typing expert, John M. Butler.  Other qualified LDS scientists have also discussed this subject recently. Book of Mormon peoples probably only represented a small percentage of the population in the New World during the period of time there was record-keeping. The numerous wars and famines necessarily kept their numbers relatively low as indicated in the Book of Mormon. With low numbers, various DNA lineages could well be masked. For example if a man had no sons, his Y chromosomes would be lost to all his posterity. If a woman had no daughters, her mitochondrial DNA would be lost to all her descendants. When populations were especially low, this would have a major impact on which DNA markers were passed on. The beginnings of the Nephites and Lamanites can be traced to only three males (Lehi, Ishmael and Zoram).The matter of DNA and ancestral-descendant lines is far more complex than most people realize. DNA studies very likely will never prove or disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. God’s plan for all of us is that we are required to learn by faith. That is the only true way to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Native American Family
The genealogical history of the American Indian has been oversimplified on the part of many people, including some scientists. Too many choose to “lump” them into a single homogeneous group. However, more recent studies show that lineages come from different geographical areas. Although most DNA-tested American Indians do show a Mongolian or Southeast Asian heritage, Caucasian bloodlines apparently are also involved, including some from the Middle East. On the title page of the Book of Mormon the prophet Mormon, who compiled the records of his antecedents, made a statement that this book was, “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel…” Unfortunately, it seems that too many Latter-day Saints (LDS) believe that all American Indians must be descendants from Israelites of the Middle East. This can only be an assumption. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that no other peoples inhabited the Americas at the time Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites were living there.


  1. Fascinating and insightful article, Wade! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for the post.
    As a Hopi, Havasupai, and Lakota, I know my ancestors were visited by Christ. I know they were taught by him. I don't need DNA to prove it. I know because I have prayed about it, and the spirit has spoken it into my heart. Wopila Tunkasila.