Where have all the Lamanites gone?

So here’s how this started: a Mormon friend of mine had never heard living people referred to as Lamanties, as in ‘our Lamanite brothers and sisters in Mexico.’ He’s Finnish and has never lived in the States, but still: I thought using the term ‘Lamanite’ to refer to indigenous peoples of North America, South America and/or Polynesia was fairly basic in Mormon culture. (I’m no social scientist, so forgive my clumsiness in dealing with these terms.) I grew up with the word ‘Lamanite,’ hearing it from people my parents’ age. I’ve tried to recall whether I heard it used by BYU students or missionaries other than ironically, but I can’t remember much from those years other than ironically , so who knows? Certainly, the leadership of the church referred to those populations as Lamanites throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. I assumed that if they stopped it was probably because of the DNA controversy of the last few years.

With a hypothesis and a song in my heart, I went to lds.org, and I did a search for the term ‘Lamanite’ in General Conferences. The church magazines are online starting from 1971, so that was my beginning point. I got 120 hits, and then read through them to see if the talk referred to Lamanites in The Book of Mormon or Lamanites being alive and well, so to speak. (I ignored the ‘News of the Church’ entries.) I found 26 references to contemporary Lamanites

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