“Indian Student Placement Notes 20th Anniversary,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 78
The Indian Student Placement program will be 21 years old in 1975, but if given a birthday cake, it would have about 15,000 candles—one for each student who has participated in the program.
Indian Student Placement is a Church-sponsored program for Latter-day Saint students between the ages of eight and 18 who live on reservations. The program permits parents to send such children to foster homes off the reservation, where they spend the school year with a family of Church members.
Many students have returned year after year to the same foster homes.
The program, approved as an “all-Church” activity in 1954, began on an experimental basis some years earlier under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, then a newly called member of the Council of the Twelve.
In 1954, only 68 students took part in the program, but participation grew until nearly 5,000 students were enrolled in 1969–70. Since that time, the Church has encouraged Indian students, where reservation schools have become adequate, to stay at home and strengthen their families.
Even with improved “at home” education available for many, more than 2,500 were part of the program in 1974.
The Indian Student Placement program has significantly helped increase the number of reservation students going on from secondary schools to receive advanced training. More than 87 percent of the program participants have gone on to college or other post-high school vocational training.
Brigham Young University, with the largest enrollment of American Indian Students in the United States, reports that of its 500 Indian students, 60 percent are “graduates” of the placement program.
Only four percent of the U.S. Indian students enrolled in colleges eventually graduate, but at BYU the figure is 20 percent.
Part of the plan of the placement program is that students will go back to their reservation homes to improve the quality of living and education there.
Former placement students have gone on to careers in such fields as agriculture, social work, law, dentistry, and education.
Noting the anniversary of the program’s beginning, President Kimball has said:
“The Church is pleased with not only the placement program but also with its other programs designed to provide educational opportunities and economic stability, and to help eliminate social problems for our thousands of native American Latter-day Saint families.”