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Saints and Indians

From: Homelands Productions
Series: Worlds of Difference
Length: 15:40

Winner of the 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for best national news documentary, Saints & Indians tells the story of a program that placed thousands of Navajo children in Mormon foster homes. **CULTURALLY SENSITIVE MATERIAL. License terms require shows to contact producer regarding any changes to intro language.** Read the full description.

Girls_small Between 1954 and 1996, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored a program for American Indian children. The Indian Student Placement Program had two aims: to provide Native children with an education and to help the Church fulfill one of its central prophecies. According to Mormon teachings, American Indians are descendants of the ancient House of Israel and Church members have a responsibility to help bring them back to the Kingdom of God. More than 20,000 children from more than 60 tribes were baptized and enrolled in the Placement program. For some, it was a chance to overcome the stresses of reservation life. For others, it was a repudiation of their identity. For everyone, it was a life-changing experience. Producer Kate Davidson spent a year talking with people involved in Placement. The story that emerged is a complicated one -- about culture, power, identity and belief.

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Piece Description

Between 1954 and 1996, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored a program for American Indian children. The Indian Student Placement Program had two aims: to provide Native children with an education and to help the Church fulfill one of its central prophecies. According to Mormon teachings, American Indians are descendants of the ancient House of Israel and Church members have a responsibility to help bring them back to the Kingdom of God. More than 20,000 children from more than 60 tribes were baptized and enrolled in the Placement program. For some, it was a chance to overcome the stresses of reservation life. For others, it was a repudiation of their identity. For everyone, it was a life-changing experience. Producer Kate Davidson spent a year talking with people involved in Placement. The story that emerged is a complicated one -- about culture, power, identity and belief.

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Review of Saints and Indians

Producer Kate Davidson's ?Saints and Indians? is an incredibly powerful , distinctly American tale of faith, race, and the struggle for
cutural identity. A question lingers in the background: "who am I?.."
or more precisely, who gets to determine one's identity.

For 50 years the Mormon church sponsored "The Placement" : Navajo children were sent to live in white families homes, following mormon scripture belief that the Navajo were a lost tribe, who fell from the gospel, and were cursed with misery and dark skin.

Through the voices of some of the white families, mormon clergy, and the some of the now grown Navajo placement subjects, a complex story of self-identity plays out on the backdrop of the American west.

Were the now mormon Navajo brainwashed and taught self hatred? Was the Mormon church practicing cultural chauvinism ?

Questions that may seem to have easy answers are explored in this captivating 16 minutes which won the Edward R. Murrow Award for best radio documentary.

Indigenous Peoples Day / Columbus Day / Thanksgiving Day
or anytime in August on a Sunday after noon would be a great time to air this part of the American Tapestry. It's an important story to recall, and to remember that while "The Placement" sound like something from the distant past, it ended in the late 1990's, and still has a profound effect on the lives of all involved

Broadcast History

Aired 01/23/05 on NPR's All Things Considered. Winner of 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for national radio documentary.

Transcript

SAINTS AND INDIANS
A LOOK BACK AT THE LDS INDIAN STUDENT PLACEMENT PROGRAM

BY KATE DAVIDSON
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
1/23/05

MAN ONE: TO THIS DAY, AUGUST IS THE MONTH I DREAD THE MOST, BECAUSE THAT WAS THE MONTH I ALWAYS LEFT TO GO ON PLACEMENT. SOMEHOW IT WAS ALWAYS RAINING WHEN WE GOT ON THE BUS, THERE WAS FLOODS. SO EVERY YEAR I ALWAYS ASSOCIATE THOSE RAINY AUGUST DAYS WITH HAVING TO LEAVE HOME AGAIN.

(JAUNTY MUSIC)

FILM: THIS IS A TRUE STORY ABOUT AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM THAT ANUALLY SENDS SEVERAL HUNDRED MORMON INDIAN CHILDREN FROM THE RESERVATIONS OF ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO TO TEMPORARY FOSTER HOMES IN UTAH, WHERE THE CHILDREN SPEND THE SCHOOL YEAR AS MEMBERS OF NON-INDIAN MORMON FAMILIES.

ROSE DENETSOSIE: MY NAME IS ROSE DENETSOSIE AND I WAS ELEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN I WENT ON THE PLACEMENT PROGRAM.

MY DAD WOULD TELL US THAT THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF LIFE WAS G...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

**CONTAINS CULTURALLY SENSITIVE MATERIAL. Broadcaster must contact Kate Davidson at kateruthdavidson@gmail.com before making any changes to intro language.)

INTRO: Between 1954 and 1996, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored the Indian Student Placement Program. It had two aims: to provide Native American children with an education and to help the Church fulfill one of its central prophecies.

According to Mormon teachings, Native Americans are descendents of the ancient House of Israel, and church members have a responsibility to help bring them back to the Kingdom of God.

More than 20,000 children from more than 60 tribes were baptized and enrolled in the Placement Program.

Producer Kate Davidson spent a year talking with people involved in Placement. The story that emerges is a complicated one -- about culture, power, identity and belief. The piece won the 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for best radio news documentary.

OUTRO:

OUTRO: That piece was produced by Kate Davidson for Homelands Productions and edited by Deborah George. It's part of the Worlds of Difference series on global cultural change.

Musical Works

Thanks to the Navajo educator and artist Pauline Begay for use of her song "Cradleboard Lullaby" in the piece. Her award-winning work is available from Cool Runnings Music.

Also thanks to Jay Begaye for "Walking in Beauty," available from Canyon Records.

Additional Files

Additional Credits

Edited by Deborah George

Related Website

http://homelands.org/worlds