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  1. I absolutely loved these women! I was educated and humbled and inspired by then.
    Are they happy for us to know their full name not just their first name?
    They said it in the introduction but I didn’t catch them?

    1. Hi Debbie, thanks for listening! Sorry if we weren’t clear on our names. My full name is Sarah Newcomb, and I was with Ann Hahne Kelly and Monika Crowfoot.

      1. Thank you Sarah, for all the work you put in to make this happen and get two other amazing women to give their perspectives too. It was very moving and very interesting too. Your regrets, anger and pain…. about having chosen a religion which ultimately plain is not true… over your relatives and heritage, came through so clearly. I visited your blog and saw your childhood photos of you with your grandmother who really looked so sympathetic. I believe that you’ll see her again on the other side and have the most amazing re-union. No doubt she and your other relatives understand that you were under enormous pressure and influence that a young child has no control over, or any way to resist. Plus, you are making up for the losses from earlier in an outstanding way! Best wishes from Sweden.

      2. Sarah, thank you! To all of you! I recently withdrew my membership from the church due to related issues. I have 5 children. Two are African American and one is Mexican. The skin curse doctrine is so wrong and harmful. I had not considered it from a Native American perspective. Your stories brought tears to my eyes. I learned so much. Your voice is being heard.

    2. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you taking the time to hear our stories. I believe stories is what links us together as people. When we take the time to hear each other’s stories I believe understanding for others is strengthened! Thank you for your kind comment. As Sarah said, my name is Ann Kelly.

  2. Thank you sweet wonderful women and John too! I dated a great guy at BYU who was a Native American. My parents especially my pioneer stock Mom could not get me back to St Louis Mo fast enough. She said it was not in a line with the teachings of the church. I thought how strange aren’t they the chosen people? Why would be bad? I was lucky to marry a beautiful Asian man. Born in raised in St Louis. My sweet mom still said, “ grandpa Udall is rolling in his grave”. He would not have liked it at all! So sad to limit love. Again I am so thankful for people speaking out and sharing truth! Love to you all!

    1. Hi Janie, thank you for taking the time to listen. And also for sharing some of your journey! It is heartbreaking that such ideas existed and continue to exist. I am so glad you did not let them define you and didn’t limit your love. <3

  3. I was actually George P Lee’s sons companion on my mission when his dad was excommunicated. Dwayne Lee and I were companions in the San Juan Puerto Rico mission in 1989
    He was one of my favorite companions although we have not been in contact since our missions. Don’t know if he is still a member but I am since “out”

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  4. People need to watch that BYU devotional referenced at the end and linked here. It’s somehow even more offensive than described in this episode. The words themselves are unrepentantly racist, but what really jumped out to me is how the speaker’s demeanor suggests he is so impressed with his own insightful thoughts on the topic of how much better the Pacific Islanders are than other indigenous people. Like, “how fortunate for the audience to have me, a white man, here to inform them where they fall on God’s Blessed-or-Cursed Ranking of the Races.”

    1. Thank you Marlbey, It is hard to grasp how far it is taken in trying to divide and categorize righteousness between Indigenous peoples without watching the video. But this is what Native Americans labeled “Lamanite” experience in person , even as a child, and struggle to explain. He also is so presumptive about Pacific Islander identity when in reality they have a beautiful and unique history that is completely separate from the Book of Mormon. I am unable to access the original letter, as the church no longer allows access to it, but it gets much worse. Thank you for following taking the time to follow the link, and thank you for taking the time to listen to us on the podcast.

  5. Wow! I just finished listening to this episode. I am a middle aged white woman living in the United States who has been Mormon my entire life, and everything you said that was taught to you was also taught in my wards and my stakes in Utah, Nevada and Idaho. I had no idea the depth of suffering and racism the indigenous people in the United States has suffered and continues to suffer. Thank you for sharing your stories in a way that took us on a journey through the minds and hearts of you as children through adolescence and now these beautiful strong courageous women! I’m so grateful for women like you who feel passionate about speaking out to educate and bring awareness to an entire part of our history and your amazing cultures that have been erased, lied about and so grossly misunderstood. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Kelly for your comment. Thank you for taking the time to listen. I was super unsure how people might react to my story so I really appreciate your willingness to understand. It is also very validating to hear you were taught the same things I was. So many people have tried to tell me that what I remember wasn’t how it really was.

  6. I am at loss for words. As native woman and mother, this episode has had a profound impact on me. So many emotions were felt listening to this. How do we change this narrative and message ? How can this organization get away with this? Thank you all for this amazing episode. It was life changing for me.

    1. I just wanted to respond to your comment and say hi. I ask myself those same questions often. I don’t have any answers beyond advocating and awareness. Mostly I just hope Indigenous people who experienced this feel supported. I’m so glad you were able to listen to the episode. Reach out to me anytime! 💕 Sarah

    2. Hi Amy. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m not sure if you checked the show notes, but there is an Indigenous meet up group we have on Facebook. Please join us, I would love to hear your story and your ideas. The more voices we have, talking about the damage done by this organization can only help. Thank you for talking the time to listen. – Ann 🙂

  7. I had a relief society President who was Hispanic and she would bare her testimony on Sunday and say how grateful she was that they let a Lamanite woman serve as President over a group of white women. She would always say that she was so surprised that the Bishop chose her because she was a lamanite and most of the women were white. I thought it was sad that she thought of herself as second class. Now I know it’s because she was brainwashed into believing a false narrative about her ancestry. Thanks to all of you for this episode. This is my favorite so far. Heartbreaking but so important for everyone to hear.

    1. Thanks for listening Samantha and thank you for your comment. Isn’t that so very sad that she thought she was less than her white counterparts? Thank you for seeing the racism and false narrative that is still being taught in the church. I appreciate your kind words! – Ann

  8. I just wanted to respond to your comment and say hi. I ask myself those same questions often. I don’t have any answers beyond advocating and awareness. Mostly I just hope Indigenous people who experienced this feel supported. I’m so glad you were able to listen to the episode. Reach out to me anytime! 💕 Sarah

  9. As a kid growing up, my mom taught seminary at the Indian school in Riverside Ca and as part of the churches proselytizing effort. We had many native Americans in our home and several joined the church over the years who we are still in touch with. I feel for each of these women and so happy you are on a path which allows you to embrace your culture with pride and heads held high. By the way, I loved making fry bread with the native women who graced our home!!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Russell. However, I wanted to point out that a cherished memory from your childhood is exactly why the Boarding schools and the Placement Program was so harmful to many Indigenous children. Making fry bread should have been something they shared with you in THEIR homes among THEIR families on THEIR land! The reason the programs were even instituted was to try and fulfill the prophecy of the Indigenous people “blossoming as a rose” and to “save” the children from their savage traditions and beliefs. I know as a child you didn’t understand any of this; but I hope you can now understand that this was cultural genocide for our people. All those children in the boarding schools and foster homes were essentially stripped of who they were and were subtly encouraged to assimilate into white culture, Mormon culture and leave behind their beautiful Indigenous culture. It is such a difficult part of the Mormon story and the United States story. I appreciate your willingness to listen to our stories and seeking to understand. I think that is what helps all of us develop understanding for each other is to truly listen to each other. Thank you so much Russell!!

  10. When I was a Freshman at BYU back in the eighties, I came upon a quote from Navajo artist, R.C. Gorman. Its truth spoke to me then as fanatical Mormon and also as I have transitioned into a religious none. “We…are always learning. It is our way. We are like seeds and we plant ourselves.” In ancient Hebrew, the meaning of love simply means to birth a new self. As I have moved away from the crazy traditions that defined my early life, the brain neurons have wanted to keep some kind of a connection to the narrative that grew my early identity. Reframing love as letting go of the old belief that who I am is never okay with the old narrative, and stepping into the flow of birthing a new self, as an act of love, regardless of what life presents, has brought peace to me.

    I was moved by all of your stories and then incensed that our shared faith, would take the beauty of diversity and turn it ugly, causing people to despise the core essence of who we are as beautiful human beings. I grew up surrounded in white privilege, but the skin narrative never really set well with me. I can never walk in your shoes and know what it is like to be conditioned to despise my own heritage and skin color as the Indigenous peoples have. I do identify as a lesbian, and so I can empathize on some level of how religious people shame and dehumanize others and insist that who I authentically am is never good enough for God and my old community. I know now that such framing was a lie. The Mormon faith can be so incredibly damaging to self-worth and a healthy sense of self.

    As a side-note, I just finished Louise Erdrich’s Pulitzer prize winning book, “The Night Watchman,” where she recounts her community’s attempts to defeat a bill, called the termination bill, sponsored by a Mormon Congressman that would have dissolved their treaties and sent the native peoples to live in cities. She writes about the Mormon doctrine of equating belief with lighter skin color. She also discusses the difficulties of assimilation, how both religions and governments it made it difficult to define being indigenous. In the process of explaining religion’s efforts to assimilate native beliefs, she describes it in the following way, which I think is quite brilliant.

    “This termination bill. Arthur V. Watkins [Mormon Congressman] believed it was for the best. To uplift them [the indian]. Even open the gates of heaven. How could Indians hold themselves apart when the vanquishers sometimes held their arms out, to crush them to their hearts, with something like love?” p. 98 hard cover edition.

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    2. Hi Cristi, Thank you for your beautiful comment. I just checked out the artist you mentioned, very moving art, I can see why you connected with it. I also absolutely love where you wrote, “Reframing love as letting go… stepping into the flow of birthing a new self… as an act of love…” Honestly I am writing it down to remember. And appreciated the book and quote mention, too many are not aware of our own history. There is so much beauty to be found in the world as we move into more authentic spaces, and I am very grateful you took the time to listen to the podcast and comment. Thank you for sharing all that you did, it will stay with me. <3

    3. Christi, thank you so much for your comment. I love Gorman and that quote! Thank you for taking the time to listen! I agree that the church has caused great harm to the marginalized persons within the group. So much judgement and attack on self worth is something I am still working through. Thank you for reminding me that I can have a rebirth and continued evolution and development.

      I am so happy to hear you have embraced authenticity and are living your life as the beautifully and perfectly made person that you are! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  11. I did not find out until graduate school that racism (in any form) still existed. I knew nothing about the Native American boarding schools. Your history and the history of so many other marginalized groups are not being told. I feel so ashamed and stupid for not knowing, but at the same time I know that I can make a difference for my future children and stop the cycle of secrecy and ignorance. My heart aches for the pain and confusion you have to confront as you search for truth about your people. There are no words to address or even understand your pain, but I can applaud you all for courageously speaking up and I hope I can help promote change within my own sphere.

    1. Hi Louisa,

      Thank you. I was moved by your acknowledgment and comment. What you wrote truly is part of advocacy and healing, so thank you. I find that at times it is easy for me to feel helpless because the issues seem so overwhelming when so many seem unaware, but then I remember that I can still make change in my personal life and with my own children. I love that you acknowledged the cycle of secrecy. Yes, let’s break that together by making a difference in our children’s lives. 💕
      Much thanks,
      Sarah

  12. Thank you so much Sarah, Ann, and Monika. My older brother and his family hosted a wonderful young Navajo boy in the 1970’s as part of the Navajo placement program that you all talked about. Knowing my brother and his wife and family, this boy was in a great home. However, your stories shed light on a much wider story that never came to my mind until I started a faith transition about 10 years ago. The more I have learned about the way the church shared the Lamanite story…..passing fiction as our religious history, it breaks my heart to know of the separation of families that took place under this church program. It also breaks my heart to know that Native American traditions, culture, and families where literally being erased under the direction of the prophets and apostles.

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I hope you continue to speak out and share these stories on many platforms to inform the world and the Mormon community.

  13. Isn’t it instructive LDS Inc. isn’t actively seeking DNA testing from all the “Lamanites” in the church?
    LDS Inc. must realize it’s a fool’s errand.

  14. This episode goes straight to the Top 3 of all Mormon Stories, as far as I’m concerned.
    All three women were extremely sympathetic fascinating and well-spoken, with incredibly touching stories and interesting perspective.
    The dynamic between them was amazing. As a European, the whole “being Lamanite” angle was something I never reflected on. The theme of this podcast was spot on.
    I think Mormonism probably helped them in getting some advantages compared with many other Native Americans while growing up. At the same time, they had to endure silly comments throughout their lives, stereotypes… and yes in some instances, racism. Personally I’m not in favour of looking high and low for racism, but some of the experiences they shared, cannot be described as anything else. They have become stronger as a result of these experiences, but at a high personal price. And PS – The Church is in such a pickle now that all the core scripture are being debunked… Is the status quo even sustainable for much longer?

  15. Thank you ladies for teaching us as we unpack and unlearn the lies that have been taught and the truths that have been hidden in our nation’s history. I apologize for any part my ancestors may have played in the systematic displacement of any indigenous people. I grew up in Utah but never Mormon. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in high school and it completely changed my opinion of what I had been taught. Keep speaking your truth. I wish you and your family all the very best.

  16. What made this episode so remarkable & rewarding was the fact that John did not interrupt these three beautiful women as they expressed their feelings about their heritage. They were able to bare their souls freely. An incredible presentation.

    All should read “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”. Few will understand the history & depth of the “Trails of Tears” referenced and what Native Americans experienced until they do.

  17. Every time I think I’ve heard it all an episode like this comes along and blows my mind. Thanks to all these women for sharing their lived experiences and educating old men like me in the process. It was very edifying.

    I’ve said this before but I want to repeat it. The addition of Cara as a cohost truly does add value to these interviews.

  18. I, too read “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” and immediately after I phoned my father-in-law who is 3/4 Swedish and 1/4 Yakima (A person with 1/4 blood is a member of the tribe and receives an allotment. And he had the features of a Yakima rather than a Swede. ), and apologized how I had doubted his stories of Native American history.

    I want to thank all you women for this fine podcast. I am a 76-year old white but with rather dark skin. When I taught in a one-teacher grade school in Southern Idaho, there were 14 children in my school and three of them, two boys and one girl, were in the Indian Placement Program. I was converted in that community so I never questioned what was happening with anything.

    Sarah, I listened to your first podcast and was especially interested in what part of the country you were originally from since in 1954, as a 9-year old boy, my mother and I landed by plane on Annette Island before taking an amphibian plane to Ketchikan and then a pontoon plane to Noyes Island where my dad worked on a fish-buying scow.

    In the 70’s, I taught school in Washington’s Yakima Valley and I always had Native Americans in a class I taught. Near where I taught was a town called White Swan, 100% native. There was also a Lamanite ward, but it eventually folded. But even with so many natives in the area plus being some 75% Mexican in the valley, I don’t recall ever seeing a a Native American in the Toppenish, Washington Ward.

    One thing that happened in a ward in western Idaho, before I dropped from attendance, I’ll never forget. The stake president visited our ward and in a general priesthood meeting wanted to know why people had moved to this area. The “correct” answer was “because one had employment”. When the stake president asked one Native American fellow who was Shoshone–Paiute and who had served a mission and gone some to BYU, why he was there, he replied, “because I prayed about it and Heavenly Father told me to come.” The President then told him that God did not tell him that. From then on several men were yelled at because they supported this man, Bro. Tom Joseph,.. The president even told one man who had praised the Native American to sit down and shut up and he refused. But even with that I upheld the priesthood leaders until 19 years later when I went down the rabid hole.

    I currently live some 5 miles from the Nez Perce Reservation and I greatly respect natives. Chief Joseph is a real hero to me. I subscribe to “High Country News where at least one long article on Native American life is found in each issue.

    And Sarah, you talked about your grandmother and feeling bad that you were a Mormon Lamanite when you saw her. I still feel bad when I think of parents, my mother having been born in 1900 in Kansas and my dad in 1903 in Oklahoma Territory (He called it “Indian Territory.”) He live on a reservation as a young boy and spent a lot of time with his native friends. I tried, luckily unsuccessfully, to convert my parents.

    Thanks John and Cara for this podcast. It is definitely my favorite.

    1. Hi Patrick,

      As I was reading your comment I was so surprised that you had been to my island in Alaska. As a child I loved being on the planes as they landed or took off from the water. I don’t know why, but even know I get excited to ride them when I go home. Never grow up. 😉 Another interesting connection we have is that I lived in Yakima for a bit. My sister still lives there.

      Thank you for sharing what happened to the Native man who visited your ward. These types of experiences were so common in my life, but to speak of them was treated as if I was speaking against the church, which is viewed as speaking against God. But in the end it is only silencing those being hurt, and also makes space for the bad behavior to continue. When I was in my early 30’s I was attending a small branch in Wisconsin. I was called as Young Women’s President, and one of the mothers got upset and proceeded to tell me that the only reason someone like me would be called was because it was a branch, and that someone like me would never have been called as one in a ward. I would plan things for the YW and she would find ways to get them “rescheduled,” and often the activities would never happen. She did not do that to the previous YW Pres, or the one after. I still had an amazing time with the girls though, and they threw a fit when I was no longer their YW president. I have so many experiences like this, but it is hard to talk about sometimes because it still hurts. I can only imagine how that Native man felt and how long he carried that with him.

      Yes, my grandmother has been a big part of who I am. I like to think she would be so proud of me and for returning to my people. I love that you reached out to your father-in-law to make things right. I have done that too with family. When we know better we do better. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share your comment.

      Sarah

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