“The People of Ammon Who Were Lamanites by Birth”

Alan C. Miner

Jerry Ainsworth notes that those who were converted by Ammon and his brothers never did fall away. As Mormon records:

they were called by the Nephites the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after." And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end. And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it. Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them. And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord. (Alma 27:26-30)

And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time. And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them--yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away. For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren. (Alma 23:5-7)

Mormon also records large migrations into the land northward by the people of Ammon and by groups of Nephites around 46 B.C.:

And it came to pass in the forty and sixth [year], yea, there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land. And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers. Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land. . . . And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

And it came to pass that there were many of the people of Ammon, who were Lamanites by birth, did also go forth into this land. And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them. But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work. But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites. (Helaman 3:3-5, 11-15)

According to Ainsworth, such a description of the people of Ammon by Mormon as "a righteous people" who "never did fall away" and that migrated northward to a somewhat unknown distance and location from a wicked and wartorn land of Zarahemla might exclude them from the wicked Nephite nation which was finally destroyed by wicked Lamanites at Cumorah.

Ainsworth notes that according to some scholars, although Teotihuacan, in the state of Mexico, was initially settled around 1500 B.C., it actually grew into a large settlement between 150 and 1 B.C. (Thompkins, Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids, p. 233). Both estimates may be correct. Because Teotihuacan was not far from the heartland of the Jaredites, it is reasonable to expect that the Jaredites settled the area around 1500 B.C. On the other hand, after the Jaredites' destruction that land would have been a prime location for a new settlement.

Maria Longhena in her book Ancient Mexico states that around 100 B.C. "a true ceremonial center began to take shape and the oldest sacred buildings perhaps date from this time period." This appears to be in concert with the time frame in which the people of Ammon were migrating into the land northward.

Phil Weigand and Patricia Anawalt stated at the 1998 conference on the Pre-Columbian people of West Mexico that there were well-developed trade routes from Teotihuacan to the west coast of Mexico, in the states of Colima, Guadalajara, and Jalisco. These trade routes went from the west coast to the northern border of Mexico to Casas Grandes.

When the Spaniards arrived on this continent and began exploiting the Indians and destroying their culture, they encountered a group of Indians on the west coast of Mexico that would not fight. These Indians claimed a history of never having fought and stated they would not commence at that point

Mexican history records that before A.D. 1600 the Pacific Ocean was called El Mar del Sur--the "Sea South;" around A.D. 1600 it was renamed El Oceano de los Pacificos--the "Ocean of the Peaceful People." The name change was attributed to the belief that no major wars had occurred among the people of the Pacific coast of Mexico. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 126, 129, 131, 133]

Note* Mormon apparently did not attempt to correlate the wickedness in the land northward with the people of Ammon. He makes no specific mention of them in his description of the rejection of Nephi's preaching in that land at around 23 B.C. (see Helaman 7:1-6). This would have been only about 40 years from the miraculous battles of the sons of Helaman. I doubt they would have ever rejected Nephi. Such a drastic turnabout would not have escaped Mormon's record. For the benefit of the reader:

Behold, now it came to pass in the sixty and ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of the Nephites, that Nephi, the son of Helaman, returned to the land of Zarahemla from the land northward.

For he had been forth among the people who were in the land northward, and did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them;

And they did reject all his words, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity.

If Nephi could not stay among the wicked people, what does that imply about the people of Ammon. Would they also have migrated farther northward? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Moroni 9:16]

Helaman 3:13 There are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them ([Illustration]): A Classic-era painted plate shows a Maya dignitary (or perhaps a deity) painting a codex with a brush. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 161]

Helaman 3:13 There are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them ([Illustration]): An artist has accurately reconstructed the processes of papermaking, ink preparation, and codex painting among the Maya. The basics were the same throughout much of Mesoamerica. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 163]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary