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According to the Book of Mormon, Hagoth (//) was a Nephite ship builder who lived in or around 55 BCE. At least two of the ships he built were lost. The occupants of one ship were presumed drowned. Hagoth and his shipbuilding accomplishments are briefly described in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon:
5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.
6 And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward. And thus ended the thirty and seventh year.8 And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not. (Alma 63:5-8)
7 And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward.
Non-scriptural sources suggest that Hagoth led an expedition, sailing into the Pacific Ocean from the Americas. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and scholars have stated that the peoples of the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Polynesia, and New Zealand, are descendants of the Nephite Hagoth and his supposed followers. According to the Book of Mormon, the Nephites were descendants of Israel. Many members of the LDS Church in Polynesia have come to believe that Hagoth is their ancestor. Non-Mormon scholars largely dismiss this hypothesis, citing genetic, archaeological, and anthropological evidence which indicates that Polynesian peoples come from Maritime Southeast Asia.
Despite general agreement among scholars that the principal ancestors of Polynesian peoples migrated from Southeast Asia, there are a few evidences of the possibility of contact with peoples in the Western Hemisphere. Sweet potatoes, which are native to South America, are a common traditional staple throughout Polynesia. The Quechua word for sweet potato is kumar, very similar to the Polynesian word kumara for the same plant.
Differentiating between scriptural and apocryphal accounts of Hagoth and his ships, one LDS writer makes the following observations:
The Book of Mormon does not equate the “west sea” with the Pacific Ocean. The Book of Mormon does not tell us that Hagoth was on board any of the ships that were lost. Scripture does not say that he captained a vessel or that he was an explorer or an adventurer, or that he led people. For all we can tell, the skilled Hagoth’s main objective was to profit from the shipping industry. It is possible for peoples in various places to be related to Hagoth’s people (the Nephites) without Hagoth personally making an ocean voyage. Coastal and Island hopping colonies, once associated with Nephite shipping, could have built more vessels and traveled very far. It is also important to realize that the peoples of the Pacific islands may have come from more than one direction.
One problem with considering Polynesia to be at least partly peopled by "Nephite" descendants is that the Book of Mormon itself does not insist upon the point, and there is likewise no official doctrine in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covering it.
- LDS.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «hā´gäth»
- R. Lanier Britsch stated in the New Era, "Since the days of George Q. Cannon in Hawaii (1851–54), the Church leaders had more and more frequently alluded to the idea that the Polynesians were descendants of Lehi, the early Book Of Mormon prophet. Although the relationship between the Polynesian peoples and the alleged “adventurer” Hagoth (see Alma 63:5–8) is not clear—he being a Nephite and the Polynesians appearing to be Lamanites—Church leaders have time and time again referred to the Polynesians as children of Lehi." R. Lanier Britsch, "Maori Traditions and the Mormon Church", New Era, June 1981.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide
- Parsons, Robert E. "Hagoth and the Polynesians". Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- "Latter-day prophets have indicated that Pacific Islanders are descendants of Lehi". LDS Church News. July 9, 1988. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- "Book of Mormon Student Manual". Ldsces.org. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
- For one Mormon artists portrayal of Polynesian people as the "Children of Hagoth", see "A Worldwide Look at the Book of Mormon", Liahona, December 2000. For a mention of Hagoth being considered a "popular hero" by Polynesian Mormon youth, see Kathleen C. Perrin, "Tahitian Pearls", Liahona June 1994.
- Coon, W. Vincent, Q & A, “Hagoth’s Lost Ships!”; additionally, Coon notes that the scriptural use of the term “curious” may mean “accomplished with skill and ingenuity” and does not necessarily imply an inclination for adventure.