BYU's Committee on Race and Inequality Needs a Native American Representative

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Miriam Chun
Miriam Chun signed this petition

On June 18, 2020, many in the Indigenous and Native American BYU community became aware and showed concern that there was no Native American representative on the newly formed committee under the request of BYU President Kevin J. Worthen that focuses on race and inequality on the church-owned Provo campus. Despite the fact that certain Native American faculty have demonstrated interest in serving in this capacity, BYU has chosen to exclude their voices from this committee.

This petition serves to remind the Academic Vice President C. Shane Reese that Indigenous voices have been silenced for hundreds of years. This committee needs a representative who understands the unique challenges that Native American BYU students face at their university. They need someone who is recognized and acknowledged by their tribal nation and is respected in the Indigenous community.

BYU once boasted the largest Native American student body in the United States during the 1970s, but in recent years, the university has cut its support for its Native American students. The school has not prioritized hiring Indigenous peoples, and they have not encouraged Native American programs that would help to dispel racist stereotypes that many BYU students believe to be true.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a special regard for Native Americans. The introduction of the Book of Mormon states that the peoples described in its contents are “among the ancestors of the American Indians.” Joseph Smith taught that Native Americans were a chosen people, part of the House of Israel, yet BYU has not adequately looked after these students. BYU must take a step towards healing its Indigenous student community by validating the Indigenous Ute land under which its campus stands, and by inviting a capable Indigenous tribal member to help form the policies that will protect its students of color.