2nd Workshop & Symposium of Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of “Lamanite”

Dr. Farina King and Dr. Michael Ing are co-organizing the second rendition that follows the inaugural workshop, Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of “Lamanite,” which was first held in August 2022 at the University of Utah.

For this second gathering, it will be hosted by the Claremont Mormon Studies Program at Claremont Graduate University (CGU), April 28-29, 2023, in Claremont, California with a virtual option to attend Saturday’s symposium. Our meeting will serve as Claremontʻs annual Mormon Studies Conference, which will include a full day of public presentations on April 29.

The objective of these workshops and gatherings is to support a community of scholars with Indigenous ties who are interested in reflecting collaboratively on the discourses of “Lamanite” and Indigenous interpretations of the Book of Mormon and Mormonism more broadly.

There will be a call for proposed chapters soon to an edited volume based on these studies and works. Participants are committed to strong connections with Indigenous communities, while developing work that relates to these discourses. We seek to bridge Indigenous, religious, and Mormon studies as well as academia and community.

You can learn more at https://mormonstudies.cgu.edu/annual-mormon-studies-conference-indigenous-perspectives-on-the-meaning-of-lamanite/ and see the flyer and program below for details.

Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of “Lamanite”: Claremont Graduate University Mormon Studies Symposium

April 29, 2023 

This symposium is sponsored by the Claremont Graduate University Mormon Studies Program, the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the American West Center at the University of Utah and the Brownlee Memorial Lectureship.

9:15 AM      Welcome

9:30-10:45  Panel 1: Armando Solórzano and Daniel Hernandez (Ah-in-nist Sipes responding)

Armando Solórzano (Tlayacanque), PhD, University of Utah

Armando Solórzano

Title: Who is a Lamanite, Anyway? Latinx Interpretations of the Term, Its Impact, and Reformulation

Armando Solórzano’s father was a Tlayacanque Indigenous person married to his mother who was of Mexican French descent. Solórzano is a University of Utah associate professor in Ethnic Studies. He is the author of various publications, including the book, We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe: Recuerdo, Celebracion y Esperanza: Latinos in Utah, which provides a roadmap of Latino history in Utah. He earned his PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Daniel Hernandez/Arcia Tecun (Wīnak), PhD, Independent Researcher and Director of Culture at Tracy Aviary’s Jordan River Nature Center

Daniel Hernandez

Title: A Messy Story of Contesting Racist Curses while Sharing Indigenous Birthrights in a Global Lamanite Paradigm

Daniel Hernandez’s pen name is Arcia Tecun. He is Wīnak (urban diasporic Mayan) and has many lineages. He completed his doctorate in anthropology at Waipapa Taumata Rau (University of Auckland) where he researched urban Indigeneity, diaspora, and gender through contemporary kava stories and songs. He was a professional teaching fellow and later held a lecturer appointment there, during which time he co-edited a book on globally localized issues of race and power and published articles on topics including education, coloniality, Indigeneity, metaphysics, popular music and culture, as well as global Mormon studies. He is currently the cultural director for Tracy Aviary and the Jordan River Nature Center in Soonkahni (Salt Lake Valley), where he is working on local-global Indigenous Eco and Food Justice projects alongside place-based pedagogy with diverse communities.

Ah-in-nist Sipes (Cheyenne and Caddo), University of Oklahoma

Ah-in-nist Sipes

Clifford Ah-in-nist Sipes is Cheyenne with family ties in both Oklahoma and Montana. His father was the last authorized historian of the Cheyenne People, and a respected Chief and Pipe Carrier. His Mother is a member of the Caddo Nation. Ah-in-nist currently resides and works in Oklahoma. He wrote a piece for the Latter-day Saint magazine Liahona titled, “Could I Honor My Heritage as a Descendant of Lehi?” in 2021.

10:45-11    Break

11-12:15    Panel 2: S. Ata Siulua and Cynthia Connell (Stephanie Griswold responding)

S. Ata Siulua, University of Auckland

S. Ata Siulua

Title: Withering like a Rose: Tongan Indigeneity, Mormonism, and the Curse of the Lamanites

S. Ata Siulua is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau (University of Auckland) in Ethnomusicology. His dissertation is titled, “Harmonizing Home: Re-Marking Tongan Indigeneities through Family and Music.” He was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah among a large kāinga (extended family clan) and Tongan community. He is Tongan with Japanese heritage. His parents are from the villages of Ha‘ateiho, Tongatapu (mother) and Lofanga, Ha’apai (father). He received his B.A. and Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Utah. He has served in various capacities as a student leader and professional at many higher education institutions.

Cynthia Connell, Independent Scholar

Cynthia Connell

Title: Rosarium: Reflections on Roses Blossoming as Lamanites

Cynthia W. Connell is a multicultural writer with over 35 years of experience. Her articles, essays and poetry appear in national and international publications. Along with writing, Cynthia works in Native American advocacy and education. She has lived in Polynesian, Asian, Native American, and Spanish speaking communities. With these experiences, Cynthia previously served as Lamanite Cultural Specialist on Temple Square. She holds a BA in English from Brigham Young University and is a 2023 Latter-day Saint Publishing, Media, and Arts Spark Award Nominee for non-fiction writing.

Respondent: Stephanie Griswold, Claremont Graduate University

Stephanie Griswold

Stephanie Griswold is pursuing a PhD degree in the departments of history and religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is the research assistant for the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and president of the Mormon Studies Student Association. She is the web designer for the Museum of Mormon Mexican History in Provo, Utah. Her current research is migrating from Fundamentalist Mormonism in the US Southwest to the broader field of New Religious Movements in the borderlands and Latin America.

12:15-1:30  Lunch

1:30-2:45   Panel 3: Eduardo Obregón Pagán and Farina King (Angelo Baca responding)

Eduardo Obregón Pagán, PhD, Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History, and Barrett, The  Honors College Associate Dean, Arizona State University 

Eduardo Obregón Pagán

Title: The Invention of the Lamanite in the Book of Mormon World

Eduardo Obregón Pagán is Arizona State University’s Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History, and Associate Dean of Barrett, The Honors College. He received a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, a master’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a master’s degree and doctorate from Princeton University in U.S. history. At Arizona State University, he has served as a vice provost, associate dean, department chair, president of the West campus Faculty Senate, and as the Faculty Council chair for the Arizona Board of Regents. Before returning to ASU, Pagán served as an assistant dean of students at Princeton, a faculty member at Williams College, and a senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. Pagán was one of the hosts of History Detectives (PBS), a historical consultant with American Experience (PBS), and has appeared in national and international documentaries and television shows. 

Farina King (Diné), PhD, Horizon Chair of Native American Ecology and Culture, University of Oklahoma

Farina King

Title: Lamanite Generations at BYU

Farina King is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. Bilagáanaa niliigo’ dóó Kinyaa’áanii yásh’chíín. Bilagáanaa dabicheii dóó Tsinaajinii dabinálí. Ákót’éego diné asdzáá nilí. Dr. King is an associate professor of Native American Studies and Horizon Chair of Native American Ecology and Culture at the University of Oklahoma. She works with Diné boarding school survivors and oral history, highlighted in her books The Earth Memory Compass and Returning Home: Diné Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School. Her forthcoming book, Diné dóó Gáamalii: Navajo Latter-day Saint Experiences in the Twentieth Century (to be published fall 2023 through the Lyda Conley Series on Trailblazing Indigenous Futures of the University Press of Kansas), traces Diné Latter-day Saint experiences of the twentieth century as told in their oral histories. She is a past president of Southwest Oral History Association, 2021-2022. She is one of the co-directors of the workshop on Indigenous Perspectives on the Meanings of “Lamanite.”

Respondent: Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi), PhD

Angelo Baca

Angelo Baca is a cultural activist, scholar, filmmaker and recent PhD graduate in the Department of Anthropology at New York University, where he focused his research on the Bears Ears National Monument. He is also the cultural resources coordinator at Utah Diné Bikéyah, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense and protection of culturally significant ancestral lands. Shash Jaa’: Bears Ears is Baca’s latest award-winning film about the five tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition that work together to protect 1.36 million acres of Utah wilderness through a national monument designation. He published the widely read op-ed in The New York Times, “Bears Ears Is Here to Stay.” His work reflects his commitment to collaborative research with Indigenous communities on equal and respectful terms and a long-standing dedication to both Western and Indigenous knowledge. He continues to focus on the protection of Indigenous communities by empowering local and traditional knowledge keepers in the stewardship of their own cultural practices and landscapes. 

2:45-3      Break

3-4:15      Panel 4: Rob Joseph and Sarah Newcomb (Tēvita O. Ka‘ili responding)

Robert (Rob) Joseph (Māori), LLB, LLM, PhD, University of Waikato

Iwi: Ngāti Kahungunu, Tainui, Tūwharetoa, Rangitāne and Ngāi Tahu

Associate Professor, Director of the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre (MIGC), University of Waikato

Rob Joseph

Title: “The House of Israel, Lamanite Identity and Interculturalism – A Safe Cultural Space for Māori within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”

Dr. Robert Joseph – Ngāti Kahungunu, Tainui, Tūwharetoa, Rangitāne and Ngāi Tahu – is a direct descendant of some of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Māori pioneers in Aotearoa New Zealand, and he was raised in the Church in Hastings and Hamilton. He studied law and graduated with an LLB (1996), LLM (1998), and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1998. He subsequently graduated with a PhD in 2006 from the University of Waikato. Dr. Joseph is currently an Associate Professor of Law at Te Piringa-Faculty of Law and is the current director of the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre (MIGC) at Waikato University, and he is a founding member of Te Taumata – the Māori Committee for the New Zealand Government Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade from 2019-2023. From 2022-2024, Dr. Joseph was appointed by the High Court of New Zealand as a pūkenga (expert) to assist the Judiciary with the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 High Court hearings. He has lectured internationally on Māori and Indigenous matters including at the United Nations in New York and at Harvard University. He has been researching and writing about Maori Latter-day Saint history and experiences.

Sarah Newcomb (Tsimshian), Lamanite Truth blog

Sarah Newcomb

Title: Remembering Pernetta Sweet Murdock

Newcomb is Tsimshian of the First Nations, Laxsgiik/Eagle Clan, from Metlakatla, Alaska. She is a writer of Indigenous identity and issues as they intersect with religion. Her writing also explores her personal experience with Lamanite identity. She works as a freelance editor, writer, and blogger of “Lamanite Truth.” She is a co-host of the Native Circles podcast. She has a Bachelors in English with a Focus in non-Fiction Creative Writing, an Associates in Communications, and a Minor in Philosophy. She currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and four children.

Respondent: Tēvita O. Ka‘ili, PhD, Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Tēvita O. Ka‘ili

Tēvita O. Ka‘ili is the author of Marking Indigeneity: The Tongan Art of Sociospatial Relations (2017). He is originally from Nukuʻalofa, Tongatapu, with ancestral ties to Tonga, Sāmoa, Fiji, and Rotuma. He is a descendant of Moana Nui deified ancestors Tangaloa, Maui, and Hina. He is a professor of Anthropology and Cultural Sustainability in the Faculty of Culture, Language, and Performing Arts at Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi. 

4:15-4:30   Break

The Brownlee Memorial Lecture
Michael Kaulana Ing (Kanaka ʻŌiwi), Ph.D., Indiana University

Michael Ing

Title: “E Hana i Kanaka” (Letʻs Make Humanity): Hawaiian Syncretisms of the Biblical Creation

Michael Kaulana Ing (Kanaka ʻŌiwi/Native Hawaiian) is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University where he studies accounts of what it means to be human in traditional Hawaiian and early Chinese thought​. He graduated with a BA from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD from Harvard’s East Asian department. He is the author of two monographs and recently completed a translation of an early Chinese text from the second century BCE. He has also published with Dialogue on topics of comparative religion and Mormon Studies.

Ahéhee’/Mahalo/Thank you!

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