Were There "Others" in the Book of Mormon?
It is increasingly common among Book of Mormon scholars to suppose there were other people besides the Jaredites, Lehites, and the Mulekites in the land these groups peopled. However, there are some significant hurdles to overcome before this proposition can be generally accepted. Though hardly the final word on this topic, I present here a summary of those hurdles.
Part of the problem discussing whether there were people in the land (however defined, but for the basic purpose, I'm going to assume the American continents as a whole are intended) when the Book of Mormon groups arrived is that we don't have explicit statements either way. The closest we are going to get to declarations that there were no people here when the Book of Mormon peoples arrived are 2 Ne. 1:8-9 and Ether 2:5.But as we can point out things in the Book of Mormon that by implication show it to be already populated, we can also point out things that by implication show it to be uninhabited. A very minor example might be 1 Ne. 18:25, where Nephi lists the things they found upon arrival, but strangely enough, it does not include human beings.There are other instances that imply the land was uninhabited. The prophecies in 1 Nephi 11-12 make less sense if it is to be assumed that there were other peoples inhabiting the land. The spread of the Book of Mormon peoples across the land, of which Hel. 3:1-10 may be the most egregious example, happens without opposition. That would be practically unprecedented; at least, I can't think of any example where migrating people were so totally unopposed by inhabitants already settled in the land.Indeed, in every single place where it would be natural to mention other people in the land, the author does not take the opportunity. One could read the Book of Mormon without assuming others were there and see no obvious incongruity. Likely, most Book of Mormon readers have or do read it this way. In other words, taken as a whole, the Book of Mormon never forces us to suppose that the land was inhabited by any other people than the Jaredites, the Lehites, or the Mulekites. One actually has to work at finding others, and if the question is about what would lead one to believe the land was uninhabited, that itself is suggestive.