Latter-day Saints believe First Nations people in America and Polynesia are Lamanites; literal descendants of early Israelite migrants, whose dark skin originated from a divine curse imposed on their ancestors. These racist views come from the sacred writings Mormons possess, in particular the Book of Mormon. The Book documents these ancient migrations, the imposition of the dark skin curse, and the thousand-year civilizations these Israelites established and ruled.

For over a century scientists have believed Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Pacific are descended from Asian ancestors; the original founders of the Americas walking from Siberia across a land bridge in excess of 15,000 years ago, while the ancestors of the Polynesians sailed out of island Southeast Asia within the last 3,000 years. No reliable archaeological clues have been found of ancient Israelite immigrants, either in the Pacific or the Americas.

The global history of human migration has been brought into sharp focus with the arrival of powerful new DNA technologies.  Whole genome analysis allows scientists to trace ancestral ties between human populations with unprecedented precision. These studies have recently expanded the human family tree to include our Neanderthal and Denisovan cousins from over 50,000 years ago. This same DNA technology is touching human lives intimately by allowing us to trace the geographical locations of our more recent and closest ancestors. It has also shed considerable light on the origin, timing and route of the first human migrations into the Americas and the Pacific. Comprehensive surveys of the genomes of thousands of Native Americans and Polynesians have found no trace of pre-Columbian Israelite DNA.    

The Sacred Curse explores how population genetics research challenges widespread LDS beliefs, how LDS scholars and the Church have responded, and the implications of the science for the Mormon Church. For decades LDS apostles and prophets have quietly sponsored Mormon scholars, predominantly at BYU, to defend the historicity of the Book of Mormon. These scholars (apologists), mindful of the findings of science, have shrunk the scale of the Israelite incursion into the Americas to a part of Mesoamerica. Many leading LDS scholars currently believe the ancient Israelites sparked the rise of the Maya civilization in Guatemala and led it for a thousand years. Meanwhile, the same apostles and prophets sponsoring this research have continued to publicly support the belief that all Native Americans and the Polynesians are Lamanites. These racist beliefs, which have exploited First Nations people and obscured their true history for almost 200 years, are now thoroughly exposed by population genetics.

The Sacred Curse

23 colored figures; 5 tables
105 pages
Fully referenced

Chapter outline

1. The Book of Mormon and the Lamanites
2. Problems with Book of Mormon history
3. DNA genealogy
4. Origin of Indigenous Americans
5. Defending the Book of Mormon
6. Limited geography apologetics
7. Looting the Maya
8. The rise of Heartland pseudoscience
9. Polynesians and the Book of Mormon
10. Official Church responses
11. Losing the Lamanite Myth       

What People Say

“the most accessible and succinct scientific refutation of Mormonism’s Lamanite mythology”

Thomas Murphy PhD

“skilfully guides the reader through the latest advances in population genetics”

Steven Clark

“Southerton continues to apply the pressure needed to destroy a myth that has long caused so much trauma to the mainland tribes, my people, and so many others.”

Forrest Cuch
Former Director of Indian Affairs, Utah