I just read that the first Native American General Authority died today. George P. Lee was popular in the “white and delightsome” days of the Book of Mormon, before it was changed from “white” to “pure.”
I am getting ready to publish a book that explores the LDS Church’s Indian Placement Program, and all the discrimination and problems that went with it, including Spencer W. Kimball’s emphasis, “See those kids there. They are in our church, so they are getting whiter. WHOOPEE.” (I paraphrased that. Big time. BIIIIIG time. Just so you know.) What SWK really said was:
“… the Indians “are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.” He said, “The [Indian] children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation” (Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-3).
Of course, these days, the “most correct” book on earth, The Book of Mormon, which has been altered and edited thousands of times, says it is PURE and delightsome. How does one answer that one?
I can’t wait to see the discussions on this one.
Frankly, the Indian (Lamanite Placement Program) was nothing short of a dismal failure. It is no longer in practice, although I have fond memories of two “Navajo” brothers that lived in our already crowded house. They went on to lead regular, Native American lives, having nothing to do with Mormonism. Can’t say I blame them.
A church that wants you to be “whiter” to fit in just doesn’t really cut it.
George P. Lee was a rather tragic figure, as he was later excommunicated from the LDS Church and accused of sexual abuse. Actually, I believe he “admitted to attempted” child sex abuse.
Boy was that a black eye for the IPP and the Church. They didn’t play that game again. No Native American has been a general authority since, and probably hasn’t really wanted to do so.
But it brings forth lots of issues and questions about the propriety of baptizing Native American children and bringing them into homes and trying to make them white. And that is EXACTLY what the church was trying to do. And why did the Native American parents agree to it? Let’s see, a chance to live in a “rich, white” community and go to a “rich, white” school and get a “rich, white” education. I can’t say I blame them. I understand them wanting more for their children.
I am just unsure they got it. I would love to hear some positive stories, or just stories about this in children.
So discuss, folks.