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?
Selam, of Warm Springs-Yakima-Nez Perce heritage, did not explicitly identify himself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though he demonstrated familiarity with Doctrine & Covenants 49:24. He wrote that he was dismissed primarily for failing to comply with BYU’s grooming standards for men’s hair. Identifying his hair as “a symbol to me of Indianness,” Selam had begun growing it out and refused to cut it. He also criticized American Indian classmates at BYU who complied with the rule, arguing that “any Indian who would [cut his hair] is an Apple Indian—red on the outside and white on the inside!”
Selam described many of his fellow American Indian classmates, who may have numbered over 500 students at that time, as “apples,” a hurtful label that challenged their membership in their tribal or intertribal communities. How common was such a comment? Did American Indians who complied with BYU’s grooming standards, or who otherwise abided by the standards of the LDS church, hear similar racialized criticism from other sources?
Indeed, contemporary evidence indicates that American Indians within the LDS church’s educational system faced racialized criticism from some fellow American Indians in the 1960s and 1970s. Though such treatment was part of a broad spectrum of interactions between LDS and non-LDS American Indians, Selam’s label points to the diversity of opinion regarding what it meant to live as an American Indian in the second half of the twentieth century, and demonstrates the complexities of living as an LDS American Indian within tribal communities on reservations or in urban settings during these decades. Although LDS American Indians’ interactions with their fellow Saints also merit attention, Selam’s article reminds us that LDS American Indians were, and are, members of tribal communities as well.
The “apple” insult draws our attention to the diversity of ideologies within American Indian communities in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Diné Baa-Hani, which Selam praised as a “very sincere and angry paper,” was published by youth from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona beginning in 1969. The term appeared in numerous issues of the paper, including in articles, interviews, occasional “Apple of the Month” awards, editorial cartoons, and letters to the editor. The majority of its articles tackled other topics, however, including education, acculturative pressure at educational institutions, protection of and access to land, economic justice, and political sovereignty. Articles in the newspaper also supported the Red Power movement, namely the political mobilization of American Indians from the 1960s and 1970s on behalf of their tribal communities and the development of a pan-Indian or intertribal identity. When the editors and contributors of this newspaper encountered American Indians who did not share their political ideology, or who behaved in ways that defied their definitions of Indianness (to use Selam’s wording), they criticized these differences with labels that tied community membership to particular ways of living and thinking.
Students at BYU were not the only Latter-day Saints to receive criticism for their behavior. Indeed, some participants of the Indian Student Placement Program, which the LDS church offered from the late 1940s to the mid-1990s, likewise grappled with criticism from tribal community members for conforming to the standards of the church. The placement program placed American Indian students with off-reservation LDS families, with whom the students lived throughout the school year in order to gain educational opportunities and greater exposure to the LDS church. (Membership in the church was required for participation.) Though certainly not the only mid-twentieth-century program to remove children from their reservations, the placement program created physical and, for some, cultural distance between students and their tribal communities.
Such distance left placement students, like the BYU students described by Selam, vulnerable to criticism when they returned to their tribal communities between placement years or after they left the program. Yvonne Martin Bigman recalled that, when she returned to the Navajo reservation after her first year of placement in the early 1960s, her brothers mocked her, noting, “’She’s turned into a white man.’” Antoinette Dee, who grew up in Arizona and was a placement student in the 1960s and 1970s, likewise explained to Jim Dandy that some American Indians described her as an “apple,” though she noted that these individuals “didn’t fully understand what placement was. I learned to accept these kinds of criticism and they were few in number.” Similarly, George P. Lee, who graduated from the placement program in the early 1960s and served as a General Authority of the LDS Church from 1975 to his excommunication in 1989, confirmed that placement students received such insults when they spent their summers on their reservations. He reported that, while young, he himself faced criticism from his Navajo family for following LDS standards and attending LDS church services.
This discussion offers an admittedly limited and incomplete view of interactions between LDS American Indians and their tribal communities. Selam’s characterization of BYU students and similar criticism of other LDS American Indians gesture toward the complexity of LDS American Indians’ membership in multiple communities. Tribal community members observed and critiqued identity choices and behavior. At the advent of the Red Power movement, such criticism compared LDS American Indians to particular political notions of Indianness. As JI contributor Amanda Hendrix-Komoto observed in her discussion of American Indian Movement protests in Salt Lake City in 1973 and 1974, American Indian activism and its effects on evolving notions of identity are indeed relevant to, and linked with, LDS history.
 Victor Selam, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” Diné Baa-Hani 3, no. 3 (October 19, 1971), 10. Published in New Mexico and Arizona as “A Navaho Newspaper Published for the Navaho Nation,” the title Diné Baa-Hani translates to “News of the People.” See Diné Baa-Hani 3, no. 3 (October 19, 1971): 1; “About Dine’ Baa-hani = News of the people. (Crownpoint, N.M. 1969-1972),” Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091373/>.
 The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Containing Revelations Given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet with Some Additions by His Successors in the Presidency of the Church (1921; Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), 49:24.
 Selam, “Don’t Sit,” 8, 8.
 Clarence R. Bishop, a former director of the LDS Indian Student Placement Program, observed that “BYU registered up to 150 Indian students a year” in the second half of the twentieth century. Clarence R. Bishop, “An Introduction to the Indian Student Placement Program,” in The Blossoming: Dramatic Accounts in the Lives of Native Americans, ed. by Dale Shumway and Margene Shumway (2002), 3.
 Victor Selam, letter to the editor, Diné Baa-Hani 3, no. 3 (October 19, 1971): 7.
 For two recent analyses of 1960s- and 1970s-era activism, see Charles Wilkinson, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005); and Bradley G. Shreve, Red Power Rising: The National Indian Youth Council and the Origins of Native Activism (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011).
 For the Indian Student Placement Program, see Martin D. Topper, “‘Mormon Placement’: The Effects of Missionary Foster Families on Navajo Adolescents,” Ethos 7, no. 2 (Summer 1979): 142-160; Tona J. Hangen, “A Place to Call Home: Studying the Indian Placement Program,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 30, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 53-69; and Bishop, “An Introduction,” 1-7.
 Yvonne Martin Bigman and Ed Bigman, “The Family Connection,” in Shumway and Shumway, The Blossoming, 138; Antoinette (Tonie) Dee, interviewed by Jim M. Dandy, LDS Native American Oral History Project, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; George P. Lee, Silent Courage, an Indian Story: The Autobiography of George P. Lee, a Navajo (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1987), 223, 226.