“And I Looked and Beheld the Land of Promise”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

The “land of promise,” evidently, refers to America, and, since both North and South America, according to President Brigham Young, are the land of Zion (see Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p. 792), we may infer that what he saw was the entire America. Undoubtedly, he saw the place where he was to land; probably he saw the general configurations of the two continents, their mountains, their snow-capped peaks, the plains, the rivers, the lakes; in all probability he obtained an idea of the climate, the resources, etc. When he arrived here, he was, therefore, not an entire stranger. He had the knowledge needed by a leader of the colony, the chief, as he became later, of mighty tribes and nations.

President Brigham Young had a similar pre-vision of Salt Lake valley, and more particularly of the temple, before he ever came here and could exclaim, “This is the place.” At the general conference of the Church, April 6, 1853, he said in his conference address:

“I scarcely ever say much about revelations, or visions, but suffice it to say, five years ago last July I was here and saw in the spirit the temple, not ten feet from where we have laid the cornerstone. I have not inquired what kind of a temple we should build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me.... I will say, however, that it will have six towers instead of one.” (Jour. of Dis., vol. 1, p. 132)

The great prophet Ezekiel furnishes another illustration of pre-vision. In the 25th year of the Babylonian captivity, while he was living in Babylon, the hand of the Lord was upon him and brought him to Palestine. There he was shown a new temple. He says:

“In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was the frame of a city on the south [Jerusalem]. And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither; declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.” (Ez. 40:2-4)

The prophet is then led through the gateway of the outer court of the temple into the court itself; then he passes to a gateway opposite him, and is led into the inner court; the structure of the temple is then revealed to him, as well as the buildings connected with it; and lastly he is shown other buildings in the inner court, and learns their dimensions. The prophet describes the vision with remarkable minuteness, as he was commanded to do. We may feel sure that the vision of Nephi concerning the land of promise was no less clear and minute than the vision of Ezekiel concerning the temple, which is yet to be built in the holy city.

Nephi learned a great deal about the history of America—multitudes at war, convulsions of nature, the coming of Christ, etc. and, we may feel sure, he saw the rise of the United States and understood its mission and destiny. One of the apostles appointed under the direction of the Prophet Joseph, viz., Parley P. Pratt, in a patriotic address in Salt Lake City, July 4, 1853, said in part, concerning this mission:

"When we contemplate the designs of the country and its influence, we contemplate not merely our own liberty, happiness and progress, nationally and individually, but we contemplate the emancipation of the world, the flowing of the nations to this fountain, and to the occupation of these elements blending together in one common brotherhood. They will thus seek deliverance from oppression, not in the style of revolution but by voluntarily emerging into freedom, and the free occupation of the free elements of life....

"Do you mean that we shall return again to our fathers’ land and compel them to be American citizens?

"No. But to two hundred millions of people on the American continent, dignified by the principles of American freedom, Europe must bow....

“Suffice it to say, the continent is discovered, the elements of life and happiness are known to exist, and are partly developed, and constitutions and governments formed, and principles beginning to be instituted and developed, and influences are at work of such magnitude and greatness, that language is inadequate to express the probable results; we can only borrow the language of the prophets, which is also insufficient to convey the idea properly, that is, The earth shall be full of knowledge, light, liberty, brotherly kindness and friendship; none will have need to teach his neighbor to know the Lord, but all will know him from the least to the greatest; darkness will flee away, oppression will be known no more, and men will employ blacksmiths to beat up their old weapons of war into ploughshares and pruninghooks ... the world will be renovated both politically and religiously.” (Jour. of Disc., vol. 1, pp. 142-3)

Nephi must have had some such impressions from his vision of the promised land.

Multitudes of people. After having viewed the land of promise, Nephi saw, in the vision, that his descendants and the descendants of his brethren became “multitudes of people”—“as many as the sand of the sea”; that is, an exceedingly great number.

Just how numerous the descendants of Lehi were in America at the time of the discovery by Columbus, or how many there are now, is not known, but there must be several millions of them, at the present time.

According to one estimate, there were in the territory now constituting the United States about 850,000 Indians, at the time of the discovery by Columbus in 1492. But the number dwindled, and in 1930 the census registered only 340,541. There are, however, a great many Indians in Mexico, Central and South America.

It is now pretty well recognized that the most advanced traits of character and culture developed in two special centers, viz., in South America in the Andean region, and in Central America, and that arts and industries spread from these centers to other areas, north and south.

Does not this harmonize with the history of the Book of Mormon, according to which we might expect a nucleus of Nephite culture somewhere with its development, and a Lamanite nucleus somewhere else with its development?

Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, possibly the greatest Americanist of his day, came to the conclusion that “the culture of the native Americans strongly attest the ethnic unity of the race. This applies equally to the ruins and relics of its vanished nations, as to the institutions of existing tribes.” (The American Race, p. 43)

This appears to me to be one more confirmation of Book of Mormon history, according to which the common origin of the two principal nations of that history is clearly set forth.

As to the languages, Dr. Brinton says they, too, give evidence of “psychic identity.” There are, indeed, he says, indefinite discrepancies in lexicography and in morphology; but in their logical substructure they are strikingly alike. (Ibid. p. 55)

However, where he cannot find sufficient coincidences of words and grammar in two languages to classify them as related, he regards them as independent “stocks,” or “families.” There are, he finds, about eighty such in North America, and as many in South America.

Here again, the history of the Book of Mormon is corroborated, since that history deals with at least three different immigrations, The Jaredite, the Mulekite and the Lehite, from which, naturally, various linguistic “stocks,” or “families,” might have developed in the course of centuries.

These stocks, Dr. Brinton says, offer us our best basis for the ethnic classification of American tribes; the only basis, indeed, which is of any value. (Ibid. pp. 56-57) On this basis he divides the entire race into the following five groups:—

1. The North Atlantic

2. The North Pacific

3. The Central

4. The South Pacific, and

5. The South Atlantic Group.

“There is,” Dr. Brinton says, “a distinct resemblance between the two Atlantic groups, and an equally distinct contrast between them and the Pacific groups, extending to temperament, cultural and physical traits.” (Ibid. p. 58)

1. The North Atlantic Group. To this group belong the Eskimos, the Athabaskans or Jinne, and the Algonkins, who, at the time of the discovery of America, occupied the Atlantic coast from Cape Fear to Cape Hatteras, and the entire area of New England. Related to the Algonkins are the Crees, the Blackfeet, the Abnakis, the Lenapis and others, and they are all supposed to have come from a locality north of the St. Lawrence River and east of Lake Ontario.

In this group we have, further, the Iroquois, who, at the time of the first French explorations in North America lived in the State of New York and parts of Canada. The Cherokees, the Mohawks, the Hurons, the Oneidas, the Onandagas, the Senecas, the Susquehannocks, etc., are all members of the same linguistic stock. They are supposed to have come from some region between the lower St. Lawrence and Hudson’s Bay. We have the word of the Prophet Joseph, received by revelation, for the statement that Onandagus, from whom the Onandagas presumably derive their name, was a great prophet, “known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.” (Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, Sjodahl, p. 266)

In this North Atlantic group we have, further, the Muskokis, who occupied the lowlands between the Appalachian mountains and the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. Their near relatives were the Choctaws, the Creeks, the Chickasaws, the Seminoles, etc. Choctaw legends point to a mound in Winston County, Mississippi, as the locality where their ancestors once lived, or where the Choctaws and Chickasaws were separated. The Creeks had a religious festival which they called BUSK (from puskita, meaning “fast”), which was observed at the time of the year when the ears of corn became edible. This word reminds us of the Hebrew festival called pesach (passover), which was observed in the month of Nisan, a name which means the Month of the Green Ears

In this group we have also the Pawnees, who have a tradition that they came from the south to their homes in the area between the middle Missouri river and the Gulf of Mexico; also the Dakotas or Sioux, who occupied the entire Missouri valley as far up as the Yellowstone, and who are supposed to have formed part of a migration from the East, which seems to have been going on for centuries before the discovery by Columbus. It was Sioux warriors who annihilated General Custer’s command in 1876. Among their related tribes were the Mandans and Minnetarees.

To this group the Kioways are also counted. They lived in the upper basin of the Missouri river, the life of wild hunters. They have, in fact, been called the “Arabs of the Great American Desert.” To a student of the Book of Mormon, this designation might suggest a comparison between the Kioways and the Gadianton bands. (12)

2. The North Pacific Group. To this group the following belong,—A number of tribes on the northwest coast and California; the Yumas, and the Pueblos.

As for the Indians on the northwest coast, the Tlinkits live in good wooden houses and display skill in carving and painting. Their chiefs, or some of them, have totem poles of which there are specimens 50 feet high, elaborately carved and painted. The first explorers that visited them, in 1741, found that they had seaworthy canoes, dressed leather, utensils of stone, and ornaments or silver and copper. They had articles of iron imported from the south, and money, consisting of shells. They also had slaves.

The Yumas lived in the valley of the Colorado river, Arizona, and in southern California. They were found there, in 1540, by Coronado. They called themselves Apaches, which is said to mean “fighters,” a cognomen also bestowed upon the Tinnes, the Mojaves, and others. The Yumas and the Maricopas cultivated corn and beans on irrigated fields.

The Pueblo tribes, at one time, had their characteristic dwellings in Arizona and adjacent territory, dotting an area estimated at two hundred thousand square miles. Their houses were built of adobes, as a rule, and each house was large enough to accommodate an entire community. The Casas Grandes (“big houses”) in northern Chihuahua are among the best known of these structures.

The remains of so-called cliff houses are also found in the canyons and gorges of the Colorado and its affluents. They are often located in seemingly inaccessible places, near the edge of precipices hundreds of feet above the level land below. Round or square towers are frequently found near the cliff dwellings in places convenient for observation.

The Pueblo Indians, according to Dr. Brinton, are not all of one stock, or lineage. The Moqui Pueblos belonged to the Uto-Aztecan branch, and the Pimas to some other branch of the stock. The other Pueblos are divided into three stocks—the Kera, the Tehua, and the Zuni.

Recent research by an expedition under the direction of Mr. Albert B. Reagan of Ouray, Ohio, is said to have convinced him that the cliff houses of that region, and the caves, were occupied about 570 A.D., and that they were not permanent residences, but used during the farming season. Mr. Reagan explored twenty-six cliff houses and granaries in the Florence canyon, and twenty-eight in the Chandler canyon.

3. The Central Group. The most important stock in this group is the Uto-Aztecan, which, according to Dr. Brinton’s classification, comprises the Ute, or Shoshonian, the Sonoran, and the Nahuatl branches. These three, he holds, are offshoots from some one ancestral stem. The Utes, the Shoshones and the Comanches in the north; various tribes in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango in the center, and the Nahuas, also called Aztecs, in the south. All these are one stock. The Nahuatl language and culture were the highest developed. The lower level of the Utes is accounted for by the lack of nutritious food in sufficient quantity; by their inadequate protection by means of suitable clothing, winter and summer, and by the unsanitary dwellings, which sometimes were merely holes in the ground.

The Comanches were also called “Snake Indians,” and the sign representing their tribe was the same, in the sign language, as that which signified a snake.

The Otomis are said to have been the earliest settlers of Central Mexico. At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, their language was the most widely distributed. They were agriculturists. They had ornaments of gold, copper and hard stones, and they were noted for musical ability.

The Tarascos were the inhabitants of the present state of Michoacan. Their capital city was Tzintzuan, and they had buildings of cut stone laid in mortar. They had cotton, gold, and copper. Their armor consisted of helmet, body pieces, and greaves, all covered with copper or gold plates. They had a form of picture-writing, but no specimen of this has been preserved. Their supreme God was Tucah-Pacha. They also worshiped the sun.

The Totonacos were the Indians whom Cortez first met. They inhabited a territory in the present state of Vera Cruz. They said they had lived there eight hundred years, and that they had come from the northwest. They had attained a high degree of culture, and were almost white in color. They, too, were sun worshipers, and their priests wore long, black gowns. Their cities were surrounded with fruit trees and grain fields, and presented the vista of a paradise.

The Zapotecs occupied the present state of Oaxaca, where there are still said to be 265,000 of them. They formed at one time a great state. They were living in villages and constructed houses of stone and mortar. The ruins of Mitla are an evidence of their culture. Recent explorations there have yielded important results.

The Mixtecs adjoined the Zapotecs on the west. In culture they were the equals of their neighbors. The Zapotecs and the Mixtecs had a calendar, similar to that of the Aztecs. They called their language the “language of the noble people” (ticha za).

The Zoques, Mixes, and some other tribes inhabited the mountain regions of the isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Spaniards found them a savage, valorous race, but they are the very opposite today. Their traditions indicate that they came from the south.

The Chinantecs who inhabited Chinantla, a part of Oaxaca, are said to have lived in secluded valleys and on rough mountain sides. Their language is said to be different from any tongue of the surrounding tribes. Dr. Berendt, quoted by Dr. Brinton. (The American Race, p. 144), says: “Spoken in the midst of a diversity of languages connected more or less among themselves, it is itself unconnected with them, and is rich in peculiar features both as to its roots and its grammatical structure. It is probable that we have in it one of the original languages spoken before the advent of the Nahuas on Mexican soil, perhaps the mythical Olmecan.”

The Chapanecs had a tradition that they had come to Chiapas from Nicaragua, from the south. Another tradition said they had reached their territory from the north, following the Pacific coast as far as Soconusco, where they divided, some entering the mountains of Chiapas, and others proceeding southward to Nicaragua, where they settled on the shores of Lake Managua.

The traditions do not necessarily contradict each other. There may have been a northward trek, and also a southward. One may have preceded the other. Centuries may have intervened between the two migratory movements.

The Chapanecs are described as lighter in color than most Indians. They knew a hieroglyphic system of writing and had books. A small band is said to have wandered as far south as the Chiriqui Lagoon.

The Mayas of Yucatan, around Lake Peten and the affluents of the Usumacinta, and the Lacandones of Chiapas, Mexico, and the upper basin of the Usumacinta river, belong to the same branch of the Maya-Quiche stock. Related branches were the Quiches, the Cakchiquels and the Mams in Guatemala, and the Tzendals (or Tzeltals) and Tzotzils in Tabasco. Traditions tell of two migrations into Yucatan, one from the southeast and another from the southwest. If we accept the idea of two migrations, says Dr. Alfred M. Tozzer (“A Comparative Study of the Mayas and the Lacandones,” p. 7) we can assume that they were composed of people of the same stock, possessing the same language, customs and religion. There is a line of ruined cities stretching southeast into Honduras and another to the southwest toward the river Champoton. The chronicles of the Mayas go back to the beginning of our era. They were great builders. The very old ruins of Copan, Palenque, T-Ho and other cities, no less than the more recent remains of Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, etc., are evidence of their wonderful art. Dr. Brinton states that the Mayas had seaworthy canoes at the time of Columbus, and that they had commercial dealings with Cuba at that time. They also maintained commerce with the people of Southern Mexico and used beans, shells, precious stones, and flat pieces of copper as media of exchange. The Maya hieroglyphs are an evidence of a high degree of intelligence, and the Maya calendar is a marvel of ingenuity.

Dividing Line Between the North and South. According to Dr. Brinton, the mountain chain between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and between the Rio Frio and the southern and eastern streams, forms the ethnographic boundary of North America. South of this line, the linguistic characteristics indicate affinity with South America.

There are many tribes in Central America. We mention the Huaves on the isthmus of Tehuantepec; the Lencas in central Honduras, and the Xicaques, also in Honduras. These are said to speak a language related to the Nahuatl. The Ulvas, the Lacandones and some others are sometimes called “Caribs,” but only to denote their supposedly lower degree of culture. The Mosquito Indians occupied a territory near the Bluefield lagoon. The Ramas lived on an island in this lake. “Rama,” it will be observed, is a familiar name in Book of Mormon history.

4. The South Pacific Group comprises two regions: The Colombian and the Peruvian.

The Colombian region comprises Northwestern South America, north of the equator and west of the Orinoco. At the time of the discovery by the Spaniards, the Cunas lived on the Isthmus of Panama, a territory, ethnographically, regarded as part of South America, as it was, politically, a part of South America, as it was, politically, a part of Colombia until 1903.

The Chocos occupied the eastern shore of the Gulf of Uraba and the lower valley of the Atrato. Some of them inhabited the Pacific coast, where a remnant of them still is found. They are called Sambos, a name that reminds us of the Book of Mormon name, Sam. The Chocos were at one time merchants and skilful metal workers.

In the mountain districts of Merida, Venezuela, south of Lake Maracaibo, there is a linguistic stock known as the Timotes. They were agriculturists. They buried their dead in specially made vaults, the entrances to which were closed with large stones.

The Mariches lived in the highlands near the City of Caracas. They are said to be extinct now.

The Chibchas, or Muyscas, were at the time of the conquest located on the upper Magdalena river in the vicinity of Bogota, Colombia. They were a cultured people. Detached tribes of this stock were found all along the Isthmus and in Costa Rica. They had an extensive system of irrigation; they wove cotton and worked gold with great skill. They were represented in both North and South America. Dr. Brinton makes this significant observation:

“As to the course of migration, I do not think that the discussion of the dialectic changes leaves any room for doubt. They all indicate attrition and loss of the original form as we trace them from South into North America; evidently the wandering hordes moved into the latter from the southern continent. So far, there is no evidence that any North American tribe migrated into South America.” (The American Race, p. 185)

In the Peruvian region we note, first, the Kechuas, or Quichuas.

Judging from the extent of the country in which their language is spoken they must have occupied a territory nearly 2,000 miles in length, from 3 degrees north of the equator to at least 32 (some say 35) degrees south. They occupied part of this vast area even before the Incas rose to prominence. It was the opinion of von Tschudi (Organismus der Khetsua Sprache, p. 64) that wherever the Kechua was spoken at the time of the conquest, it had been spoken thousands of years before the Inca dynasty began. According to one tradition of the Incas, the original home of the Kechua was in the Lake Titicaca basin, on the boundary between Peru and Bolivia. Some modern scholars, Sir Clement Markham, among others, doubt this. They believe that the Kechuas first appeared in South America in the region of Quito, in the north, and that they gradually worked their way south until they were stopped at the northern shore of Lake Titicaca, by warlike tribes. But how did they happen to “appear” in Quito, if they had not come from North America, nor from the South? And who were the warlike tribes that halted them at Lake Titicaca? Is it not easier to believe that the currents of migration at one time were from the south to north, and at some other time from north to south? According to one tradition, two Kechua-speaking tribes, the Mantas and the Caras, occupied the coast from the Gulf of Guayaquil to the Esmeraldas river. The ancestors of the Caras had, it is said, come there in rafts and canoes from some northern settlement. The Macas on the eastern slope of the Andes, near the equator, have been referred to as part of the Scyra stock. 1 The southern limit of the Kechua language has been put at latitude 30 south, where Coquimbo now is situated. But it was also spoken in colonies farther south.

Among the tribes of the Kechua stock were the Casamarcas, on the headwaters of the Maranon; the Incas between Rio Apurimac and Paucartampa; the Lamanos or Lamistas, about Truxillo, and the Mantas on the northern coast of the Gulf of Guayaquil.

The Aymaras form another member of the Kechua stock. They occupied a location to the south of the Kechuas, from latitude 15 degrees to 20 degrees, approximately 300 miles from north to south, and 400 from east to west. The total population of this area today is said to be 600,000, of which two-thirds are pure-blood Indians, and the rest are a mixture of races. Lake Titicaca is situated in Aymara territory, and some consider them the originators of the culture which the Kechuas under the Incas extended over a considerable part of the Pacific coast. According to tradition, Manco Capac, the founder of the Inca dynasty, came from the shores of Lake Titicaca, and from the foam of the Lake, the great Viracocha arose, who taught the people such useful arts as they knew, and the principles of their religion. The ruins of Tiahuanaco, in Aymara territory, are still among the mysteries of American archaeology.

5. The South Atlantic Group is divided into two regions, The Amazonian, and The Pampean.

In the Amazonian region, the Tupis are mentioned first. At the time of discovery they lived on the coast of Brazil from the mouth of the La Plata to the Amazon river, and far up that mighty river. They are said to have wandered up the coast from some southern region. The population of Uruguay today has a large percent of Tupi blood in their veins, perhaps 90 percent. Some of the Tupis, in order to escape the European invaders, fled as far as to the highlands of Bolivia, which proves that even before the days of steam and electricity, the Indians could and did migrate large distances. The Tupis are described as tall, light in color, and athletic. They knew how to make hammocks, cultivate the ground, and make beautiful ornaments of feathers.

The Tapuyas are another linguistic stock in this region. They are said to be the most ancient and the most widely distributed native people in Brazil. The name, which was applied to them by the Tupis, means, “strangers,” or “enemies,” and is indicative of hostility. They are supposed to have been the early constructors of the numerous shell-heaps along the Atlantic coast, and these are supposed to be at least two thousand years old, probably more. When first discovered, the Tapuyas were low in the scale of culture. They did not, as a rule, wear clothes. They lived in huts made of branches and leaves of trees. They had no tribal organization. But they were skilful hunters, and they made bows, arrows, stone axes, baskets, and—something out of the ordinary for Indians—tapers.

The Arawaks were widely disseminated throughout South America. They were found from the head waters of the Paraguay river to the highlands of southern Bolivia. They had also found their way to the Antilles and the Bahama islands. The Antis, a member of this stock, is thought to have occupied the original home, between the rivers Ucayali, Pachita, and Perene. The Antis inhabited the slopes of the Cordilleras, being a mountain people, while the Campas lived in the plains. Some of the Arawaks bred and trained hunting dogs, and made fine pottery. They hammered native gold into ornaments, carved masks of wood, and made canoes.

The Caribs, at the time of the discovery, were found in the Lesser Antilles, the Caribby Islands, and on the mainland from the mouth of the Essequibo river to the Gulf of Maracaibo. Dr. Brinton traces this stock to the mainland of northern Venezuela, the province of Cumana or New Andalusia. The Caribs in the hills of French Guiana are said to be light in color, and at birth almost white. Concerning their original location Dr. Brinton says:

“The lower Orinoco basin was for a long time the center of distribution of the stock; they probably had driven from it nations of Arawak lineage, some of whom, as the Goajiros, they pushed to the west, where they were in contact with the Carib Motilones, and others to the islands and the shores to the east. The Carijonas and Guaques on the headwaters of the Yapura or Caqueta are now their most western hordes, and the Pimenteras on the Rio Paruahyba are their most eastern. We can thus trace their scattered bands over thirty-five degrees of latitude and thirty of longitude. The earliest center of distribution which best satisfies all the conditions of the problem would be located in the Bolivian highlands, not remote from that I have assigned to the Arawaks.” (The American Race, p. 255)

Among some of the Caribs marriage of a daughter to her father, or a sister to her brother, was not uncommon. Like some other ancient peoples, they were cannibals. But in some respects they were ahead of their neighbors in culture. They had fine canoes, and they used sails. Their pottery was of a fine quality, and they had picture writing.

The Zaparos should also be mentioned. That name is sometimes spelled Xeberos, sometimes Jeberos (pronounced, “Heberos,” which, accidentally, or otherwise, bears a strong resemblance to the Old Testament name, Heber, the father of Peleg and Joktan; which name according to Gesenius, means something on or from the other side of a river, a valley, a sea, etc.) At present their main body is found between the rivers Pastaza and Napo and along the Maronon. Among the members of the stock are the Moronas, the Napotoas, and the Nepas.

The Antipas, of the Jivaro linguistic stock, are located above the Pongo de Manseriche.

In the Pampean region there are the Chaco stocks, the Pampeans and Aracaunians, and the Patagonians and Fuegians.

This attempt at a review of the Indian linguistic stocks and tribes, although far from complete, illustrates the accuracy of the vision in which “multitudes of people” pass before the spiritual eyes of the youthful seer, Nephi. These “multitudes” were his descendants, and the descendants of his brothers, in the Book of Mormon called Nephites and Lamanites, respectively.

We do not regard all the American natives as the children of these two ancestral sources. The Book of Mormon tells us something of two more immigrations, that of the Jaredites shortly after the dispersion of the human family from the land of Shinar; and that of the attendants of Mulek, who came from Jerusalem about the same time as Lehi. Both these left an indelible impress on the American race. And there are reasons to believe, if the testimony of American archaeology is not misleading, that other elements have been added through migration. But these two, the descendants of Lehi, the Nephites and Lamanites, form a most important part of the material of which the American race is composed. There is no other known and satisfactory explanation of some of its physical traits, linguistic affinities, myths, legends, religious observances, and social institutions.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1