Ishmael wrote:I don't think I agree with your parsing of the word "principal," mostly because it's clear from McConkie's other writings that he believed all or most of the native Americans were descended from Lehi, whether that was actually true or not. Why use a tortured definition when we are free to disavow the whole thing?
Does what I say above really qualify as a "tortured definition"? I gave the actual definition of the word. Might not others have imposed their own definition of the word on their own misconceptions and vain traditions pertaining to Book of Mormon cultural issues? This is what I am suggesting.
Ishmael wrote:But it's a moot point anyway, because this idea is well represented in other sources that are more canonical than the intro and chapter headings. Things like Conference talks, lesson manuals, and proclamations.
Could you flesh out what you mean by "this idea"? I assume that you mean the idea that the Americas were mostly empty when the Lehites arrived, and that all Native Americans area more or less exclusively descended from this core group. While I agree that Elder McConkie and many others believe this, I do not think it is accurate, nor have I seen the idea in "more canonical" sources, and I have looked.
What I have seen indicated repeatedly is the idea that current Native American and Polynesian groups possess the blood of Israel. It only takes a few drops of blood to make one a descendent of Israel. This is much different than the idea of an empty continent populated exclusively by Lehites.
I would be interested to see some of these more canonical sources. My research was far from comprehensive, although, I did cover a lot of ground in my search. Furthermore, I am less concerned with what Elder McConkie himself thought, and am more concerned with what actually made it into the Book of Mormon title page. Conflating his intent and what was approved by the Brethren is, in my opinion, unwise.