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Mormons, Native Americans, and the Indian Student Placement Program, 1947–2000
Mormon Studies / American Indian Studies
From 1947 to 2000, some 50,000 Native American children left reservations to live with Mormon foster families. While some dropped out of the Indian Student Placement Program (ISPP), for others the months spent living with LDS families proved more influential than expected.
The ISPP emerged in the mid-twentieth century, championed by Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, and aligned with the then national preference to terminate tribal entities and assimilate indigenous peoples. But as the national paradigm shifted to self-determination, critics labeled the program as crudely assimilationist and colonialist. Some ISPP students like Navajo George P. Lee fiercely defended the LDS Church before native peers and Congress, contending that it empowered Native people and instilled a true Indian identity. Meanwhile, Red Power activists organized protests in Salt Lake City, denouncing LDS colonialism. Later, a new generation of church leaders quietly undercut Indian programs, leaving many of its former participants with a sense of confusion and abandonment.
Making Lamanites traces student experiences within contested cultural landscapes to reveal how and why many of these Native youth adopted a new notion of Indianness.
Matthew Garrett is professor of history at Bakersfield College, where he also works in the college archives. He recently joined the editorial board of the Journal of Mormon History.
Table of Contents:
List of Tables
A Note on Terminology
2. Reimagining Israel: The Emergence of Mormon Indian Theology and Policy in the Nineteenth Century
3. Turning to Placement: The Navajo Nation, Helen John, and the Pursuit of Education, 1880s–1940s
4. The Institutional Rise of the Indian Student Placement Program, 1947–1972
5. The Placement Experience: Entering Mormon Homes and Communities
6. The Placement Experience: Becoming a Lamanite
7. Rival Ideologies and Rival Indians: Self-Determination in the 1960s and 1970s
8. Decline of the Placement Program, 1972–2000
Praise and Reviews:
“Using historical themes of colonization, assimilation, and identity, Matthew Garrett presents an extraordinary revelation of indigenous resilience among 50,000 native students during the second half of the twentieth century. This brilliant exposé advances our understanding of Indian-white relations and it is truly an award-winning book!”
—Donald L. Fixico (Shawnee, Sac & Fox, Mvskoke Creek and Seminole), Distinguished Foundation Professor of History, Arizona State University
“An outstanding contribution.”
—Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics, Washington University
Winner of the Juanita Brooks Prize in Mormon Studies