Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 30, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
April 30, 1974 THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD 9 Racism in Cardston is not open and hostile, Indians say. It's a little more subtle than that. Arnold Fox, a Blood social worker and one of the first Indians to make open charges about discrimination here, says Cardston residents consider Indians inferior to whites. Mr. Fox says he has heard people say that Indians are less than people and that the Blackfoot language is not really a language. "Nobody refuses to do business with Mr. Fox says. "It's just the way they serve treating Indian customers as uinimportant. Part of the problem, he says, is that there is very little social interaction between whites and Indians in Cardston. And Indians are so used to being treated poorly they are afraid to make any overtures, he says. Randy Broadhead, a counsellor at the Cardston junior high school, says there is more inter-racial interaction than when he was in school but complains there still isn't enough. In the school system, he says, Indian and white students, for the most part, stay in their own racially-segregated groups, although most students say they have some friends of different race. Harriet Heavy Runner, also a junior high school counsellor in Cardston, says one of the reasons there isn't more interaction is that most Indian students return to the reserve every night. Different backgrounds Indian and white students also have different cultures and backgrounds and that makes it difficult to make friends across racial lines, she says. There is little inter-racial dating in the community, and one white women interviewed says her parents "would be very upset" if she ever dated an Indian. And several white high school students says there have been some instances where white girls have refused dates with Indians because of parental pressure. On the other side of the coin, several people say Indians are encouraged by friends to stay away from whites that having white friends makes an Indian "white." Frank Daniels says he knows of one case where an Indian student was threatened by some of his peers from the reserve to break off friendships with white students. Mr. Fox says racism toward minority groups exists in all communities, not just Cardston, but that it's worse in this community because of the large number of Mormons. "The religious thing plays a part in he says, "but Mormons should realize this is the 20th Century." But Mr. Burt, and others, hotly dispute such claims. And he claims The Lethbridge Herald has a vendetta against the town, printing only those things which cast bad light on Cardston. When something good happens, there's no space, but "when some cry-baby Indian goes to the Lethbridge Herald and cries about how he has been mistreated, that gets printed." He points proudly to the fact that the Cardston school division was one of the first in the country to integrate classes and that there have been joint town-band council meetings to discuss common problems. Better way "They aren't banned anywhere and no restaurants refuse to serve them, although dirty people are not allowed there, whether white or black." Continued on Page 4 'Cursed with a dark skin9 When Indians rebelled against God's wishes, they were "cursed with a dark skin." At least that's the doctrine according to the Mormon Church, which relying on the allegedly revealed truths in the Book of Mormon, contends that when the Indians again return to God's way, they will lose their curse. "They will become white and says the Book of Mormon. In an interview, Bryce Stringam, president of the Lethbridge stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, points out that Indians, according to church theology, came to North America about 600 B.C. The Lamanites, as the Indians are referred to by the church, descended from Manassah, one of the two sons of Joseph. Ephraiam, the other son, is the ancestor of white Europeans. A descendant of Manassah named Lehi had several sons. Laman and Lemuel would "not follow the counsel of the Lord as expressed through the prophet Lehi" and were cursed with a dark skin. Nephi, an other son, founded a tribe which accepted Lehi's guidance. All the sons, and their descendants, came to North America about 600 B.C., sailing from a point on the Red Sea to the east coast of South America. Indians, or Lamanites, are promised in the Book of Mormon they are chosen people and when their evil ways are corrected, the curse would be taken from them. Fred Spackman, president of the Cardston stake, says for this reason, the church accords Indians a "special status." However, Mr. Stringam says, the Lamanites have special status only when compared to women and blacks. The church carries out no special missionary work among them, he says. Blacks and women cannot hold priesthood, but Indians are given the same rights to rise in the church hierarchy as white men. Blacks are said to be cursed with the mark of Cain, the church claiming they are descended from Cain, who God cursed with a black skin after the slaying of Abel. Share priesthood Women are not allowed into the lay priesthood because it is believed they can "share in the blessings of their husbands' priesthood." Dr. Spackman says he feels the Lamanites have a special destiny and will join the church in great numbers. We want the Indians to stand on their own feet and be as good as anyone else, he says, and the church at least has the responsibility to offer Mormon religion to them. One Indian woman interviewed by The Herald, who converted to the church in adulthood, said she "felt a great joy to have the privilege of learning about the Mormon religion. "It was a great inspiring feeling I felt I was joining the true the woman said. Many Indians have joined the Mormon ranks, she says, but fall away because church standards are too high. The Lamanites, while in North America, .had a brief conversion to the true church after Christ visited them on this continent after His crucifixion, the Church believes. For several hundred yrears, they and their cousins, the Nephites also descended from Lehi lived in harmony and peace. But greed once more took control of their and war between the Lamanites and Nephites broke out again and the Nephites, who were recording the history on tablets later to become the Book of Mormon, were wiped out. The church was restored again in the early 1800s when Joseph Smith claimed he found the tablets on a hill in New York State.