In "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church," research scientist Simon Southerton of Canberra, Australia, states that American Indians and Polynesians appear to be of Asian extraction, noting that none of the nearly 7,500 DNA-tested Native Americans shows any link to ancient Israel. This conclusion has also been reached by many other scientists studying mitochondrial DNA lines.
The debate, which has been raging for years, is less about the ancestral origins of Native Americans, and more about how it affects basic beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as expressed in the Book of Mormon. Simon Southerton, a former member of the LDS church, feels that church leaders should just own up to the problems with some of the literal teachings in the Book of Mormon, given the current results of DNA research. "They should come out and say, 'There's no evidence to support your Israelite ancestry,' " Southerton said in an article in USA Today. "I don't have any problem with anyone believing what's in the Book of Mormon. Just don't make it look like science is backing it all up."
On its Web site, the church responds, "Recent attacks on the veracity of the Book of Mormon based on DNA evidence are ill considered. Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex."
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