Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Indian Placement Program
The Indian Placement Program, or Indian Student Placement Program was a program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1947 to 1996, where Native American students (upon request by their parents) were voluntarily placed in white Latter-day Saint foster homes during the school year, where they would attend public schools and become assimilated into Mormon culture.
Beginning in the 1970s, however, the Indian Placement Program came under criticism. In 1977, the U.S. government commissioned a study to investigate accusations that the Church was using its influence to push children into joining the program. The commission rejected these accusations, however, finding that the program was largely positive, and enjoyed emphatic support both from Native American parents and white foster parents. However, the program became increasingly controversial. Supporters believed that exposure to white culture was beneficial to Native American children, and that it improved educational and economic opportunities, while critics believed that program undermined the children's Native American identity.
In 1989, George P. Lee, a Navajo member of the First Quorum of the Seventy who had participated in the Indian Placement Program in his youth, was excommunicated soon after he had submitted to the Church a 23-page letter critical of the program. (However, this excommunication may have had more to do with a charge of child molestation, to which he later pleaded guilty.) By the late 1980s, however, the program had been in decline, and in 1996, it was abandoned.
See "The Rise and Decline of the LDS Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-1996," Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World: Studies in Honor of John L. Sorenson, ed. Davis Bitton (Provo: FARMS, 1998), 85-119.
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