Continuing our series entitled “Losing the Lamanites,” wherein we interview Mormons from Central and South America, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders — with the intent of exploring their faith transitions, and focusing (where relevant) on their thoughts and feelings around having been handed the now questionable “Lamanite” identity.
In this episode we interview Hyrum Joe, and cover the following:
  • His 3rd-generation upbringing in the LDS Church as a Navajo.
  • The culture shock he experienced when he moved off the Reservation while in grade school.
  • His feelings of being an outsider both in and out of the Church while growing up in his new community.
  • His inactivity in his younger years and how he subsequently went back into activity after meeting his ex-wife and becoming sealed in the temple.
  • How he realized he never truly had a “testimony” of the truth claims of the LDS Church, even while being active and being heavily involved in ward missionary activities.
  • His impending faith transition.
  • His thoughts and feelings of the “Lamanite” identity
  • The joy he has experienced reconnecting with his Navajo heritage, identity, and customs.

Hyrum is also a professional artist.  Check out his art here:

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Part 2:

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  1. Scotty June 3, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Hyrum, thank you for sharing your wonderful life story. I’m happy that you have finally found true joy, peace, and spirituality.

  2. Allen Barlow June 3, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Hyram’s story is nostalgic for me: I did my mission on the reservation back in the 1970s. In those days, many Navahos in their 30s or older did not speak much English. So we learned Navaho. Navaho is a difficult language, but I found it an exciting challenge and really worked hard at it. Some of the books I acquired in my pursuit of language mastery included discussions of the origins of the language and people. To my chagrin, I quickly encountered an “inconvenient truth”: even way back then, it was clear that science and linguistics had firmly established that the Navaho and their cousins, the Apache, are Athbascan peoples, not related to other southwest tribes, but rather to tribes up in Alaska and Siberia. As one might expect, my mission president was not pleased when I disclosed to him that it seemed highly unlikely to me that the Navaho were Lamanites. That certainly made for some tension in testifying…

  3. anewearth June 15, 2017 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Hyrum, I really loved listening to your incredible story! I want you to know that when your shared where you now find joy, you spoke with power and authority. Your healing song brought tears to my eyes. My you continue to walk in beauty.

  4. Lizbet June 16, 2017 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Hyrum, I’m curious how someone who has (to me, at least) a distinctive Mormon name feels about having that name after they leave the church. Maybe you don’t think of it in those terms. Just something I’ve wondered as I’ve seen a few kids named Nephi or Brigham and thought, boy, that’s a lot of pressure to carry a Mormon name.

    I really enjoyed your story and your honesty. The idea of returning back to an Original native belief/religion with its connection with the earth, Great Spirit, etc., is poetic. I wish you much happiness in life as you reconnect with your identity.

    I couldn’t help but think during your story of leaving before completing a temple ceremony that the people there likely thought you were leaving because you were unworthy and your conscious finally got the best of you, based on what is taught in the church about how wonderful the temple is, rather than a problem with the ceremony itself. Even if someone at church admits that maybe the temple was unsettling (at first), it’s always assumed it’s because they didn’t really understand it, not because it’s cultish and false.

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