According to the Book of Mormon, the family of Lehi (a wealthy Hebrew prophet), the family of Ishmael, and Zoram traveled from the Middle East circa 600 BC to the Americas by boat. Some time after the death of Lehi (in the Americas), one of the sons of Lehi, Nephi, overheard that his brothers were plotting to kill him, so Nephi, his family, and his followers left and went into the wilderness. The followers of Nephi called themselves Nephites. The followers of Laman, Lehi's oldest sons, were called Lamanites.
The Nephites later discovered another civilization living in America, and the combined group also called themselves Nephites. According to the Book of Mormon, there were many interactions between the Lamanites and the Nephites; intermittent war, trade, and proselytizing transpired with varying degrees of success. God initially marked the Lamanites with a darker skin color to identify them and their state of wickedness. The Nephites were initially righteous, though over time, individuals and sub-groups defected and joined the Lamanites. Likewise, some penitent Lamanites defected to the Nephites.
Following the American visitation of the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Lamanites and Nephites coexisted for two centuries in peace (from circa AD 30 until 230); "There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God." Eighty-four years after the coming of Christ, "a small part of the people who had revolted from the church" started calling themselves Lamanites. After four generations this period of peace and cooperation between the two suffered corruption and decline as social and economic classes resurfaced. In the year 231 "[the] true believers in Christ" started calling themselves Nephites. The Lamanites eventually became a larger portion of the population.
Ultimately, the Lamanites were successful in destroying the Nephites, in a series of wars from 326 to about 400 A.D.Lamanite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[A]dherents of the Latter Day Saint movement typically believe that the Lamanites comprise some part, if not the entirety, of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Polynesian people.
Mormons and Native Americans: A Historical OverviewIn 1820, Smith later related that two otherworldly beings appeared and told him to join no church because all were corrupt. Other heavenly beings afterward told him to establish a new church. In 1823, Smith said, an angel appeared and revealed that at a preordained time he was to unearth and translate golden plates containing Native American prehistory.
According to Smith, when he found and translated the plates, they told of a lost tribe of Israel that migrated to the Americas many hundreds of years ago. These first Americans built a flourishing and advanced civilization, but one branch, the Lamanites, killed their righteous relatives, the Nephites. For this and their rejection of Christ's teachings, God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin and a degraded existence. The story maintained that the Lamanites would not regain white skin and a civilized way of life until they accepted Christ's teachings. Thus, the heavenly beings instructed Smith not only to restore the true Christian church, but also to bring salvation to Native Americans.
Nephite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
DNA study traces ancestry of Native Americans to Beijing
DNA study traces ancestry of Native Americans to Beijing | The Raw StoryPresent-day Asians and Native Americans are descended from a group of people who were already in China 40,000 years ago, according to an analysis of fossil DNA published this week.
The genetic analysis showed that the early modern humans in Beijing had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of modern-day Europeans.
In actual fact, I'm sure the LDS will just ignore this (like they tend to ignore all science they disagree with), but still it's interesting that we could see a pretty thorough debunking of a relatively mainstream religion in our lifetime.