Upcoming Workshop (August 2022): Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of “Lamanite”

The first of an inaugural workshop series titled, “Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of ‘Lamanite,’” will be held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah this August 2022.

The objective of these workshops is to support a community of scholars who are interested in reflecting collaboratively on the discourses of “Lamanite.” Participants are committed to strong ties with Indigenous communities, while developing work that relates to these discourses.

The workshop will also include two public sessions with scholars from various fields of Indigenous and religious studies that require pre-registration to attend via https://bit.ly/Aug5Register.

The workshop co-chairs, Dr. Farina King (Diné) and Dr. Michael D. K. Ing (Kanaka ʻŌiwi), along with a steering committee, have coordinated the workshops.

The public is invited to two public sessions of the workshop relating to “Reflections on the Discourses about ‘Lamanites'” on Friday, August 5, 2022 in room 351 of the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building (CTIHB) at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah [please note that in-person attendees will be responsible for their own parking costs but free lunch will be offered at the venue]:

10:30 am-11:45 am MT (US/Canada): Keynote Talk by Dr. Ignacio Garcia

Dr. García is the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western & Latino history at Brigham Young University. He is the author of numerous books and publications on Mexican American politics and civil rights. He has written on Chicano political parties, the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign as it related to Latinos, written a biography on Hector P. García, an American civil rights icon, and the first civil rights case to be decided by the Earl Warren Court. He has worked on a co-edited volume of essays by major Latino scholars and intellectuals, and also on a history of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s work in the West. He is a past president of the Mormon History Association (2019-2020).

1:30 pm- 2:45 pm MT: Panel featuring Dr. Robert Jospeh, Dr. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, Sarah Newcomb, and Dr. Thomas Murphy

Dr. Joseph is a Senior Lecturer and the Research Centre Director MIG (Law) at the University of Waikato. He is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. He has been researching and writing about Maori Latter-day Saint history and experiences. He is also writing a biography of his paternal tupuna (ancestors), who fought at the famous 1864 Battle of Orakau during the Waikato Wars.

Amanda Hendrix-Komoto is an assistant professor at Montana State University where she studies the intersections between race, religion, and sexuality. Her book Imperial Zions: Religion, Race, and the Family in the American West will be published with the University of Nebraska Press in October 2022.

Newcomb is Tsimshian of the First Nations – Laxsgiik/Eagle Clan. She is a writer of Indigenous identity and issues as they intersect with religion. Her writing also explores her personal experience with Lamanite identity.

Dr. Murphy has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington and is President Elect of the Mormon Social Science Association. He has published more than a dozen articles on Indigenous identities and the Book of Mormon.

Dr. Michael Ing and Dr. Farina King will moderate the two sessions.

Dr. Ing is an associate professor of Religious Studies and Affiliated Faculty of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He completed a master’s degree in theological studies at Harvard’s Divinity School and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard’s East Asian department. He is one of the co-directors of this workshop.

Dr. King is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, and she will begin her position as the Horizon Chair of Native American Ecology and Culture at the University of Oklahoma in August 2022. She recently worked as an associate professor of History and affiliated faculty of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, in the homelands of the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee where she founded and directed the NSU Center for Indigenous Community Engagement. In part of her research, King writes about Diné Latter-day Saint experiences.

There are virtual options to attend the sessions if you prefer to not attend in person. Once you register, we will follow up with more details by the week before the workshop.

Some Background:

The Book of Mormon styles itself as a record “written to the Lamanites,” descendants of the House of Israel who left Jerusalem and populated the Americas a millennia before the arrival of Europeans. Later followers of Joseph Smith expanded the category to include peoples of the Pacific. Since Smith’s day, Latter-day Saints have used the term “Lamanite” to make sense of the world and to assign space in various religious frameworks for peoples Indigenous to the Americas and the Pacific, including people of Indigenous/European and Indigenous/Black heritage from Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. This has served to attract people to, and repel people from, Smith’s movements inasmuch as “Lamanite” works as a term of liberation as well as a constraint.

We are forming a community of scholars to address the category of “Lamanite,” centering on Indigenous voices concerned with questions of identity, race, religion, settler colonialism, politics, and the relation of “Lamanite” to other facets of life. This will be a space inclusive of not only the dominant approaches in the academy, but also, and more importantly, Indigenous methodologies and protocols from the communities in which these scholars are rooted; making this community a first of its kind.

To accomplish this, we are developing shared spaces for scholars to reflect on these issues, collaborate with each other, and share their scholarship with larger audiences.

Thank you to Sponsors and Partners

Special thanks to our committed sponsors that have made this intellectual community and initiative possible: the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, and Department of History at Brigham Young University; the American West Center, Department of History, and Mormon Studies at the University of Utah; Mormon Studies at Utah State University; Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University; Signature Books; the Center for the American West at the University of Colorado-Boulder; Sunstone; the Mormon History Association; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought; the Museum of Mormon History of the Americas; the National Museum of American Religion; Global Mormon Studies; Mormon Social Science Association; Utah Division of State History; Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia; and other partners and scholars from throughout the world.

We also thank Diné artist M. Nazbah for her work.

Ahéhee’ & Mahalo (Thanks)!

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