Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel


Tyler Balli


Lamanite, Book of Mormon, Hispanic, heritage

Document Type



In September 1972, the Ensign published a piece called “What Is a Lamanite?” Using an “imaginary conversation” between different individuals of Latin American descent and a Church leader, this article got to the heart of the complexity of Lamanite identification within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When this piece was published in the 1970s—and even long before—some Church leaders strongly encouraged Hispanics to identify as Lamanites, a name referring to a people found in the Church’s founding scripture—the Book of Mormon. Even with the Church’s encouragement, however, not all Hispanics jumped to identify as Lamanites. The “What Is a Lamanite?” piece is one of the only documents during the President Spencer W. Kimball time period that explored the diversity of beliefs about this term among Hispanics; it was “an important, if not overlooked, reminder that not all Saints whom Church leaders such as Kimball saw as Lamanites understood themselves in those same terms.”