The Lamanites are one of the people described in the Book of Mormon, usually portrayed as dark-skinned, wicked rivals to the lighter-skinned, righteous Nephites. Both of are said to be descendants of Israelites who traveled to the New World by in coffin-like barges circa 600 BC, none of which has any basis in historical or archeological fact.

The Church of Latter-Day Saints used to suggest that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were decendents of the Lamanites. In and effort to sidestep the terrible racism and glaring impossibility of this narrative, Mormon scholars turned to a “limited geography” model, which conveniently erases all genetic and cultural connection between Lamanites and modern people. This tactic — suggesting that the Lamanites were totally real but left absolutely no trace whatsoever — has issues. Issues which are shared by many other faith communities.