Not Utterly Destroyed

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

The Book of Mormon does not teach that the Nephites were at any time utterly exterminated, with the exception of a very few individuals. It tells us that the people on this continent, shortly after the ministration of Jesus among them were united. Even the racial distinction between Nephites and Lamanites was obliterated. There were no "Lamanites or any manner of -ites." They were all one in Christ. (4 Ne. vv. 17, 18) This Millennial condition lasted until the spirit of antichrist made its appearance in the form of pride and love of the world. Then different churches were organized. (v. 27) Some became persecutors. (v. 29) In the 131st year after the advent of Christ a religious organization was formed, which became known as Nephites, because they believed in Christ, as Nephi had done. Their opponents became known as Lamanites, because they followed Laman in their religious tendencies. The distinction between Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites on one side, and Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites on the other, from now on was on religious lines, not because of descent, just as the distinction between Lutherans, Calvinists, etc., is one of confession of faith, not of parental lineage. (4 Ne. vv. 36-39) The great battle at Cumorah was fought, as I understand it, between these two religious organizations. (9) The Nephite religious organization was broken up at Cumorah. The Nephite government came to an end. But among the victorious so-called Lamanites, there were descendants of Nephi, Jacob, Joseph and Zoram, as well as of Laman and his friends, as there are among the Indians to this day.

On May 1, 1950, reports issued from the office of the commissioner of Indian affairs in Washington indicated that the Indians in the United States were gaining in numbers. In 1910 the census showed 301 tribes north of Mexico with a total of 291,014 individuals. In 1950 the total had increased to 343,000. The birth rate exceeded deaths by 1300 annually. Some tribes, the report said, are independent, operate sawmills, herd sheep and cattle, raise hay and grain, build irrigation systems and contribute to education and the care of their indigents. Many are riding in automobiles. All of which may indicate that the descendants of Lehi, both through Nephi and Laman, will be preserved and become a righteous branch, in due time, "unto the house of Israel."

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1