Date: July 10, 2014 07:49PM
Note: I have not seen this article online so I typed it here. I don't have a website or blog or anywhere else to put it. Maybe someone here could find a place for it.
For the Blessing of the Lamanites
written by Boyd K Packer
Assistant to the Council of the Twelve
August 1964 Relief Society Magazine
In March of this year almost two hundred teen-aged Indian boys and girls gathered in Sandy, Utah,in a youth conference of the Indian Student Placement Program of the Church. They represented almost twenty Indian tribes, and they came from reservations spread over a wide area from Mexico on the south to Canada on the north. For the school term they had lived with non-Indian Latter-day Saint foster families throughout Utah and Arizona. The theme of their conference, selected by the students themselves, was "Our History Foretells Our Future."
Those who visited the conference and observed the display of talent and leadership during the two days of activity would have agreed that a brightening future awaits these young people. In many ways they reflect the development and progress which is being achieved to an increasing degree by Indian people throughout the land. In fulfillment of Nephi's prophetic words(see 1 Nephi 15:14-14), the Lamanites in our day are, indeed, being restored to their rightful place in the House of Israel. By their obedience to the principles of the gospel,they are beginning to receive the blessings promised to their ancient fathers.
In devising a theme for their conference, the Indian boys and girls gave recognition to the illustrious history and achievement of their forefathers, recounted in the Book of Mormon. Following the time of the savior's visit to this hemisphere, the Nephite-Lamanite remnant reached a peak of perfection and righteous achievement. Fourth Nephi records:
"And it came to pass. . .the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. . .
"And now, behold it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people. . .
"And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
"There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God" (4 Nephi:2,10,16,17).
Today thousands of Lamanites are coming into the Church. More than one hundred Lamanite branches have been organized among the stakes and within the missions. In many of these branches the leadership is provided by the Lamanite members. They are the branch presidents, the teachers, the auxiliary leaders, the music directors. With increasing effectiveness and with characteristic humility and devotion, they are carrying forward the program of the Church. Lives are being transformed. In some cases whole Indian communities are being affected.
In the small Paiute Indian settlement near Cedar City, Utah, a beautiful new chapel points its spire to the sky. The building,faced with colorful native stone, is a monument to the dedication and energy of the members of the Cedar Indian Branch. Much of the work on the new chapel was done by the branch members themselves. To provide a lovelier setting for their chapel, the Indian people have undertaken a community improvement project.Homes and outbuildings are being painted;yards are being improved;fence lines and empty lots are being cleared of weeds and debris.A new sense of pride and industry seems to pervade the little community.
The development taking place among these people has been reflected in yet another way. Recently the branch presidency was reorganized, and Franklin Benn, an Indian Elder, was installed as the new president, the first Indian to serve in this capacity since the branch was organized.
A growing number of Indian boys and girls are accepting calls to serve on full-time missions. At the time of this writing there are more than thirty Indian missionaries laboring in the two Indian missions. An added number are serving in other missions throughout the world. The Muddy River Indian Branch in the Moapa Stake, with a membership of fifty-five, has three missionaries in the field.
If one were to visit the Pomo Indian branch in the Santa Rosa Stake (California), the Omaha-Winnebago Branch in Nebraska, or the Cattaraugus Branch in New York, he would find capable Indian members serving as Relief Society presidents,Sunday School superintendents, and branch leaders.
More than six thousand Indian boys and girls are attending special Seminary classes which are being conducted across the Nation from New York and North Carolina to California and Oregon. Forty-seven Indian students were enrolled in the Brigham Young University during the 1963-64 school year, and there were hundreds in other institutions of higher learning.
But the work is only beginning. Thee is a great deal yet to be done, and all of us share in the responsibility. Brigham Young charged the membership of the church in his day to press forward with the work of redeeming Indian Israel. Speaking to a group of the saints in the Provo area, in 1855, he said, "Now, if this people,male and female, feel to school them (the Indians), spend time and pains to instill into their minds correct principles, to divide land with them. . . and will go to work and restore them to the knowledge of the truth the Lord God will bless them, and they will have nothing to fear. If you live up to this you will rise, while those who do not will go down. If this people will observe this covenant, and follow it one and all….thousands and hundreds of thousands will embrace this gospel, and for ought I know scores of thousands will become members of the Church (J.D. 9:228-229).
Nephi, seeing in vision the important role which the non-indian members of the church would have to play in this great latter-day work,said:"And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wheretofore it is likened unto their being nourished by the gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders"(Nephi 22:8).
The work in behalf of our Lamanite brothers and sisters must go forward. They have waited long years for their restoration to the blessings of the gospel. The Lord has placed a direct responsibility upon the members of the Church to see that the great work of redemption does not falter. Every Latter-day Saint should be a friend and a champion of the Indian people. We must be certain that blessings are not withheld because of any indifference or intolerance on our part. Our patient labor in behalf of Lehi's seed can help them to reclaim their inheritance in this land.
"And then at that day will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation? Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine? Yea, will they not come unto the true fold of God?
"Behold, I say unto you, Yea; they will be remembered again among the house of Israel; they shall be grafted in, being a natural branch of the olive-tree" (1 Nephi 15:15-16).