Articles by

Farina King

Max Perry Mueller’s “History Lessons: Race and the LDS Church,” JMH 50th Roundtable

By April 10, 2015


Max Perry Mueller uses a clever title, “History Lessons,” in his essay on “Race and the LDS Church” in the fiftieth anniversary edition of the Journal of Mormon History. “History Lessons” implicate some form of historical appropriations. Institutions use history to formulate lessons, which support certain values and ways of knowing. Mueller traces how the LDS Church alters historical narratives of a “black Mormon past” through three main time periods to argue “the LDS Church has worked to tell a story of historical continuity in its relationship with people of African descent” (143).

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Changing the Attitude and Culture of Parenthood as Graduate Students

By March 2, 2015


On January 22, 2015, the ASU Graduate Women’s Association hosted a panel, “Having Children in Graduate School,” which included me. During this panel, we discussed issues regarding parenthood among graduate students. As a mother of three children, I was impressed to hear about the experiences of other graduate students facing similar challenges to me. These concerns are real and widespread. I left that gathering empowered and motivated to bring these important issues to the attention of other higher education institutions and scholars. #GWAGradParent

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Women in the Academy: Julie K. Allen

By January 14, 2015


Julie K. Allen joined the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. She received her PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 2005. Her research focuses on questions of national and cultural identity in nineteenth and twentieth century Danish, German, and Scandinavian-American culture.

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Religious Affiliation Requirement in Indian Boarding Schools

By December 29, 2014


In my research of Navajo educational history, I have come across several student case files that include “religion” as a major category in individual profiles. Growing up with Navajo family and friends, I remember references to how they had to choose their “religion” at boarding school during the 1950s.

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“It is Just There”: Jesse Holiday, a LDS Navajo Elder

By November 9, 2014


Some historians have told me how they fear that their sources will “talk back.” As an oral historian, I rely on my sources to “talk back.” On one level, oral history is a conversation between an inquirer and a source. In my perspective as a Navajo scholar, the relationship between a teaching elder and learning listener interweaves storytelling and oral history. Storytelling represents a form of dialogue, which depends on the rapport between speaker and audience. Among the Dine, our elders serve as storytellers, and simultaneously, public intellectuals, historians, and teachers. Dine scholar Jennifer Nez Denetdale asserts, “As manifestations of cultural sovereignty, oral histories have proven crucial in projects to decolonize the Navajo Nation and our communities, for the teachings of our ancestors are reaffirmed in the retelling of stories” [1]. When our elders speak, we are obligated to listen and learn.

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Columbus Day, Indigenous Day/Columbus as Hero or Villain: A Native American Mormon Perspective

By October 13, 2014


I did not start to question Columbus Day until my first history course at Brigham Young University in 2008, when an instructor discussed with the class the controversies concerning Columbus and the Quincentennial in 1992. We read The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters, and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives published by Penguin Classics in 1992. The class showed me how to search primary sources and understand the current debates about the legacy of Christopher Columbus. As a Latter-day Saint Native American, my complicated opinion of Columbus began to gel. I learned of his human weaknesses and impacts (both direct and non-direct) on indigenous peoples. As a historian, I came to recognize a historical figure’s context and the “pastness of history.” I became increasingly uncomfortable with the appropriations of Columbus’s image, especially in the contests over Columbus Day and Indigenous Day.

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Thoughts on Indigenous Mormon Studies

By November 25, 2013


We are pleased to have this guest post by Professor Matthew Kester who is the author of Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West (Oxford University Press, 2013), the university archivist, and an assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University Hawaii.

My training as an historian of Oceania and the American West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and my role as the custodian of archival collections on Mormonism in Oceania, led me to write on interactions between Mormons and Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawai’i. Both Oceania and the American West are regions where indigenous people experienced massive, disruptive political, social, and economic change, and Mormon missionaries and settlers played an important role in that change. I want to use this opportunity to reflect on what I feel are some of the more important themes in the study of Mormonism and indigenous people, and suggest some ways that they might be responsibly put to use. Important, because exploring these themes will increase our understanding of these interactions and the communities they created. Responsible, because they do so in a way that represents indigenous people as full historical subjects, and as active historical agents who negotiated (and continue to negotiate) disruptive periods in their history on their own terms, at least within the confines of the larger power structures imposed by colonization, settlement, and in many cases, the erosion or loss of political sovereignty and self-determination.

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The Oral History of a LDS ’Asdzáánsání in Diné Bizaad

By November 18, 2013


Many Farms Lake

Many Farms Lake

’Asdzáánsání (elderly woman)

Diné Bizaad (Navajo language)

Before reading this post, please note that we faced technological issues with using Navajo diacritical marks on the blog so some of the Navajo here does not directly represent the revised transcript of the oral history. The two symbols that would not appear on this blog were the slashed l and nasal marks. I italicize the l (l) to represent the slashed l and italicize vowels that should include a nasal mark (a, o, and e especially). Different literature often does not follow a standard written Navajo form with consistent use of diacritical marks for terms.

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LDS American Indians in Their Tribal Communities

By November 6, 2013


Here is a guest post from Megan Falater who is researching the interactions between nineteenth-century Mormon ecclesiastical authority and doctrine related to the family for her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a longtime lurker of Juvenile Instructor. For this post, she revisits an undergraduate project on the LDS Indian Student Placement Program.

In 1971, Victor Selam complained in Diné Baa-Hani, an underground newspaper published in the Navajo Nation, that Brigham Young University limited American Indians’ expression of their identities. Selam recounted a conversation he held with a member of the University Standards Office prior to his dismissal from the school:

I reminded the “Man” that in Mormon prophecy the Indian people would “rise up and blossom as a rose in the latter days.” I said that I fully agreed with the prophecy and that it also exists among the Indian people, only in different words in a different language. But how can this rose “blossom” if it doesn’t push and pull itself up? How will Indians rise up if they sit back, quote prophecy, and do nothing like some people at B.Y.U.? And furthermore, what of those Indians who cease to exist as Indians-who want to be white people and act accordingly and forsake their own people?[1]

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Mormon Navajo Youth at the Intermountain Indian Boarding School

By October 11, 2013


John C. Begay recalled the day when his branch president, Don C. Hunsaker, pulled him out of his class at the Intermountain Indian Boarding School to invite him to attend the Latter-day Saint Indian Seminary program. His mother had enrolled him in seminary, but Begay followed his peers to the Catholic and Nazarene activities until Hunsaker found him. He then started to attend the seminary class of a respected LDS leader and local of Brigham City, Elder Boyd K. Packer. Begay claims, “‘That’s where I was converted to the LDS Church. My mother had secretly signed me up for Seminary which became my favorite class….’” [1].

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