Nibley writes that the BOM allows for other non-Lehites in ancient America.

May 1952
Hugh W. Nibley

Hugh Nibley, "The World of the Jaredites," Improvement Era 55, no. 5 (May 1952): 342

Improvement Era
Hugh W. Nibley
Latter-day Saints

As if for the specific purpose of giving us that assurance, a few, terse verses in Omni point to the people of Zarahemla, whose history is given so briefly as to seem entirely without significance otherwise. Though these people play an important role once they enter the sphere of Nephite history, their whole past is summed up in but three verses. (Omni 15-17.) That shows us how closely the editors of the Book of Mormon stick to the business at hand, shunning any kind of digression and stubbornly refusing to tell about any people but the announced subjects of their history. The people of Zarahemla are only mentioned because they have to be—since they in time became bona fide Nephites. But the brief and grudging nod to their past is a priceless clue for us. It is a reminder that just because Lehi's people had come from Jerusalem by special direction we are not to conclude that other men cannot have had the same experience. And by the same token the fact that the Jaredites were led to the land of promise at the time of the dispersion gives us no right to conclude that no one else was ever so led, either earlier or later than they. It is nowhere said or implied that even the Jaredites were the first to come here, any more than it is said or implied that they were the first or only people to be led from the tower. Long after the Book of Mormon appeared, Joseph Smith quoted with approval from the pulpit reports of certain Toltec legends which would make it appear that those people had come originally from the Near East in the time of Moses; whether such a migration ever took place or not, it is significant that the Prophet was not reluctant to recognize the possibility of other migrations than those mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

The argument of silence bears some weight in considering the possibility of "other sheep." When the Jaredites journey into a land "where there never had man been," our history finds the fact worthy of note, even though the party was only passing through. Now there is a great deal said in the Book of Mormon about the past and future of the promised land but never is it described as an empty land. The descendants of Lehi were never the only people on the continent, and the Jaredites never claimed to be.

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