Stories of Faith
As Christians, Mormons read and draw inspiration from Biblical stories. These are supplemented with Book of Mormon stories about the ancient peoples of the North American continent. Many of these stories concern Lehi, who went to North America in the time of Jeremiah (600BC – 400AD) and founded a colony there. After his death, Lehi’s followers split into two groups, the Lamanites and the Nephites. There was a series of battles between the two groups around four hundred years after the time of Jesus and, according to the Book of Mormon, only Lamanites survived. In early LDS history, the Lamanites were identified as the ancestors of the Native Americans, who were seen as descendants of the Biblical twelve tribes of Israel and therefore had a special place in the Church, and missions made Native American tribes a special aim of their proselytizing. However, more contemporary interpretations argue that the followers of Lehi were not the only people in North America, and while some (or all) of the Native Americans could be descendants of Lehi, these could also be from other older inhabitants of the continent.