Sunday, August 23, 2009

38e - Flora Dude Shorten and Her Family Have Been Blessed by Her Experiences with the Indian Student Placement Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

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Painting: Harry Anderson I am applying those beautiful deeply meaningful words of promise by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ to the dear woman and her family on whom we will focus during this blog post. Of course, these promises apply to all of the righteous.

3 NEPHI CHAPTER 22 In the last days, Zion and her stakes shall be established, and Israel shall be gathered in mercy and tenderness—They shall triumph—Compare Isaiah 54. About A.D. 34
1 AND then shall that which is written come to pass: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.
2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes;
3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
4 Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
5 For thy maker, thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel—the God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6 For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
9 For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.
10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.
15 Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. (Emphasis Added)

Northerly View of the San Carlos Apache Reservation

Photos received through Google Search

A San Carlos Apache Woman of a Much Earlier Generation.
San Carlos Apache Men at Work - 1886

Flora Dude Shorten

I was born September 10, 1950, in San Carlos, Arizona at home. There was no doctor so my Dad, Ralph Dude, assisted my mom, Louise Stewart Dude in bringing me into this world. He also signed my birth certificate. My maternal grandmother is Fannie Stewart Kenney and my Paternal grandmother is Ada Hicks Dude Dia. I am the third oldest of eight brothers and one sister.

One of my earliest memories is sitting under the cotton bushes that made shade for me. My parents picked cotton in the cotton fields of Thatcher, Arizona. From what my Mom has told me, as a young child I became blind. My parents didn’t know why. When I was about three years old the missionaries started teaching my mom and dad in Thatcher. They asked my parents why I was always crying and my parents told them it was because I was blind. I guess the missionaries felt inspired to give me a Priesthood blessing to receive my sight back. My sight did return. Through that experience my Mom gained a testimony that the church is true and joined the church in 1959. My dad didn’t join the church.

When I was four I developed polio in my left leg. I remember going to the Indian hospital in Phoenix and having to go through several surgeries. I remember being with many others who had polio worse than I did and I remember being grateful that mine wasn’t any worse. I didn’t have to walk with braces or crutches. All they did was put a cast on me. They caught it in time. Now I just have a slight limp. I was really grateful that I didn’t have to go through the hardships of the other kids I saw.

Cotton picking was only seasonal, so after the harvest we would go back to our home in San Carlos. We caught the train that goes through Thatcher and on to San Carlos. My dad was a construction worker and painter, and built roads during part of the year. We always moved with Dad wherever he went. We lived in Roosevelt for a while where Dad helped build the Roosevelt Dam. We also lived in Seneca, a little place, where Dad helped build the road through Salt River Canyon. And we also went to Point of Pines when Dad worked with the timber. Dad always had a job.

Our home in San Carlos had two bedrooms, and one big giant living room. We had electricity and an indoor bathroom.

My Dad drank when I was small. It wasn’t too happy in those times. My Mom wanted my brothers and sister and me out of the house when Dad came home drunk. She would tell Dad to walk up the railroad tracks with us to his parent’s house, and then after four or five hours Mom would come and gather us all up and would walk us back home and Dad would stay at Grandma’s. He tried to be abusive to my mom but mom was able to keep him from hitting her. When we were old enough we also kept him from hurting Mom.

My Mom only went up to about eighth grade and Dad only to fifth. He was also in the army during World War II.

I attended Rice Public school, in 1956, which was only a few houses away from our house, in a one-room stone building where there was one teacher for three grades. We didn’t have kindergarten. I started first grade when I was six years old. The teacher, Mina Thompson, was a member of the church from Globe, Arizona, which was about 20 minutes away. I ran away several times at first. Each time my mom would march me back up there. she wouldn’t let me stay home. Then I got used to it and liked it. I
went there for three years until I went on Placement.

The whole family attended church. Dad didn’t join the Church but he went to Sacrament Meeting and made sure the family went.

In 1958 I was baptized at the age of eight. I remember that I was afraid of the water. It was cold so I cried. My brother Steve was baptized at the same time.

When our San Carlos branch received word about the Indian Student Placement Program, a lady from the branch, Sister Christine Weich, came and told my mom that this would be a good opportunity for our family with so many children. Sister Weich explained how it worked and the things that we might experience and learn, and told us we would be in an LDS home. My mom and dad asked my brother Steve and I if we wanted to go. They left it up to us, and we both said we wanted to go, so my brother Steve Dude and I Flora Jane Dude were the first to leave San Carlos to go on the Placement Program.

I went to Provo, Utah, and my brother to American Fork. The only Placement worker I remember is Brother Mauray Payne. He came to a Placement reunion in San Carlos last year.

The Neil Isaac family that I went to live with were nice. I had a lot of brothers and sisters. The first thing I remember that my brothers and sisters did was walk me down the middle of the street shouting ‘Come and see my little Indian sister!’

At night I would get homesick and start crying. I cried until I went to sleep. I did this for two or thee weeks until my foster parents said, ‘You had better stop crying or we will send you home.’ I didn’t want to be sent home and make my parents feel bad, so I quit crying and started to enjoy new things and my new life.

I was only able to live with the Isaac Family for about three months because my foster mother became really sick. My many foster brothers and sisters had to split up and live with relatives. My foster dad asked me if I wanted to go stay with my best friend Becky Smith. ‘Yes, I would really like that!’ I replied. So I went to live with the Jessie and Merle Smith family on the Provo Canyon Road. I loved my life with Mom and Dad Smith! I felt loved, needed, wanted, and a part of the family!

My foster dad grew a lot of fruit trees, raised horses, and was a bus driver for the elementary school. It was a farm area and it was fun; there were a lot of things to do. I got so close to that family that every time I had to leave to go home, for two weeks before. We cried before and after I got on the bus. (I also cried when I left my natural family to go back on Placement.) My foster parents were affectionate; they were a hugging and kissing family. I had to get used to that. I remember my foster dad holding me on his knee and I felt so proud when he would say, ‘This is my daughter, Flora,’ and give me a big hug. I just felt at home with them. My Foster mother told me that when Becky, my foster sister, first saw me she really fell in love with me. She said that was the first time she had ever seen such a cute little Indian girl. She was always good to me. We were close to each other. We would get ready for Sunday on Saturday evening. We would take baths together and our older sister Donna would clean us and wash our hair. When Becky and I would be taking baths Becky was always the first one to get out of the tub and while I was standing there waiting for Donna to get me out, I would see a brown ring around the tub and I was always thinking, ‘Oh, no, my skin color is coming off!’ I never knew it was just dirt but after that I never scrubbed myself too much. To this day this makes people laugh, but I wanted my parents to know me. I didn’t want all my skin color to come off.

After our baths we would get together for something special like ice cream or popcorn. Dad would play the guitar and teach us silly songs. I knew I was loved.

Church was always enjoyable for me. We did lots of fun things in Primary. We sang songs I liked. The children were always kind to me and included me in on anything. I learned to love reading the scriptures, and I memorized many of them. I liked passing my achievement requirements and working toward goals. I also liked Girl’s Camp and begged my Mom in Arizona to send me back to Utah just to go to camp, and they let me. I learned to pray and seek the spirit and to pay my tithing. I knew I had lots of blessings and I needed to help serve my brothers and sisters. I learned so much and loved the gospel.

When I first went back home from Placement, I couldn’t talk Apache. My parents and Grandma talked to me in Apache and I understood it, but II couldn’t speak it for about two weeks.

I stayed with the Smiths about three years. At that time my foster brother went on a mission and my foster parents had to support him financially and it was necessary for me to go to another home. This was hard but I understood. I kept in close contact with the Smiths, visiting them often.

My next foster home was also in Provo nearer to Orem. I stayed with the Neil Stanley family for one year and attended Grand View Middle School.

Going to the Placement youth conferences and meeting new friends was exciting. I loved hearing the students bear their testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel and I would share mine also.

Next I was placed in Santaquin with the Gerald and Mona Woodbury. They were a young couple, both teachers, with no children yet. My foster father was called to teach seminary in the Tongan Islands. Mom and Dad Woodbury wanted to take me with them, but I didn’t want to go. I didn’t know where the Tongan Islands were. I thought maybe they were in Africa or somewhere dangerous. I told them no, I would go back home to San Carlos.

I always loved going to church. It made me feel happy. I didn’t understand why some of my friends quit coming. I took all the lessons to heart and my spirit grew and grew. It was no problem for me to serve in any part of the church. I never turned down a position. I wanted blessings from my Father in Heaven.

I didn’t return on Placement for three years. I think the main reason I decided to stay in San Carlos during eighth, ninth, and tenth grades was because I was getting older and I saw I didn’t really know my relatives; I didn’t even know who my first cousins were; I didn’t know anybody anymore; I didn’t know San Carlos. I really missed Placement, but those years also gave me valuable experience. It made me realize how much the church meant to me and how helpful it was to have the guidance of a strong family. No one would say, ‘Let’s go to church. Let’s go to seminary.’ I had to decide for myself. I became a stronger person and learned who I really was.

One day I came home from seminary and while resting I went to sleep. I was then awakened by a black figure coming in the door and into the room. I tried not to notice but the figure came straight to me, it entered my body at my feet, and moved up toward my head. I couldn’t move and tried to yell but no sound came out. I was frightened but then remembered what I was taught in church, and in my mind I said, ‘By the power of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.’ The spirit left my body the same way it entered—through my feet, and it then walked out the back door. I knew it was evil and wanted me in its power, but because of my knowledge I felt safe and at peace. I knew the church was true and right and I would always find peace of mind in it.

In our small branch during our young women’s lesson, some girls were making fun of what was being taught and then started making fun of me for believing it. They kept mocking me with, ‘Goody, goody,’ or ‘Quit being so good.’ I couldn’t take it anymore and stood up and admitted, ‘Yes, I know the gospel to be true. I know that this lesson is the truth. If you don’t believe it, you don’t have to be here.’ They were quiet for the rest of the lesson. At that time I didn’t realize I was bearing my testimony, but I felt strong and peaceful.

During that time at home, I remember my parents never let the missionaries or white people in. They said, ‘Our home is no good; it’s ugly and everything is old.’ I told her, ‘Mom, don’t feel like that. White families’ homes are like that too. Their homes get old too; their homes get messy too. I know that. I lived in those homes.’ So people slowly started coming into the house because I was there. Whenever company or a white person came by, my family would scoot me out there to talk to them. They didn’t frighten me at all; they were just people.

While I was on the reservation I served a three month youth mission one summer in Zuni, New Mexico, Southwest Indian Mission. I really enjoyed this experience and knew I had to go on a full-time mission when I was old enough.

Some of my siblings were on Placement while I was at home; however, I am the one who stayed longest. My brother Steve only stayed one year. After three years at home I went back on Placement again.

During my three years on the reservation I kept going to church. I never missed. I went to seminary and I went to all the activities. I never had a problem keeping church standards. I missed the guidance and the strong family values that I experienced on Placement. On the reservation I saw a lot of problems. It was really hard, but I was able to withstand the challenges.

After three years on the reservation, a representative came around recruiting students for Placement saying that California had opened up and asked me if I would like to go back. I did. I went to California and first went to an older couple with no children and didn’t like that situation. My caseworker agreed I would be better off in another family with a daughter my age. My foster sister and I graduated from North Hollywood High school together. My families in California were not as dedicated to the church as my families in Utah and I was uncomfortable when they missed church and participated in other activities on Sunday. I received a Patriarchal blessing in California by Abraham Cooley which reinforced that I was indeed a child of God and had a lot to contribute to my fellow men.

My goal after high school was to go to BYU because it was in Provo and because it was close to the Smiths. My case worker helped me fill out admission and financial aid application papers for me to go to BYU and I was able to reach that goal. I wanted to be a nurse and took science classes but most of all I enjoyed my religion classes. I loved being at the ‘Y’ with members of the church sharing our strength with each other. The Lamanite Generation was a shining example of good to me.

After two years at BYU I was called on a full-time mission to the Northern Indian Mission in Rapid City, South Dakota, under mission president Rex C. Reeves. Going to the temple in preparation for my mission was a highlight in my life. I loved the covenants I made with Heavenly Father. I accepted all the promises.

I flew into Rapid City and was assigned to an area called Hardin, Montana, close to the Crow Reservation. I was very humbled by my first missionary companion. I don’t know why in the world the missionaries and others treated her so indifferent. Her name was Christy Bogart. She was very humble. She only had a few pieces of clothes and none of the other sister missionaries ever thought they could help her. They just neglected her. I wrote to President Reeves about it. They got her some decent clothes. I taught her how to take care of her personal hygiene. I helped her and she helped me to be a good missionary.

Some of the families we visited had old houses and used cardboard to cover their walls. The first family we went to visit was an old grandma. Sister Bogart said hesitantly, ‘We have been to this house and they never let us in.’ But this time I went to the door first and they invited us in. We talked to them about the church and they listened and they were quiet even though they probably did not understand all of what we said because they spoke Crow. Their granddaughter translated for us. The grandmother came over and gave me a hug and offered us food. Sister Bogart and I worked with them until I was transferred.

A spiritual experience for me with Sister Bogart was when we were teaching a family called Mountain Pocket--a mom and dad and six or seven children. We taught them and prayed with them and they were really growing in the gospel. They accepted to be baptized and they thought we would baptize them. We told them no, we didn’t have the authority to baptize them—the Elders would do that. Then we taught them about the Priesthood. That whole family became members of the church and it was wonderful to see them come to church and see them grow. It was a special time for me to see a whole family receiving the blessings of church membership.

Sister Bogart was finishing her mission and I was transferred to Lame Deer, Montana, where my cousin became my companion, Sister Marvel Dosella.

Sister Dosella and I went into the community; we were part of the community; the people knew who the sisters were there in Lame Deer. We spoke Apache together there among the Northern Cheyenne. After Marvel left I became a senior companion; they sent me a youth companion, Sharon Newholy, a Sioux . She was afraid to teach and mostly read the scriptures for me as I taught the lesson.

In Lame Deer we taught a Sister Medicine Talk, one of the oldest ladies we taught. She became a strong member. She said her husband used to be in the church. We started teaching her grand kids, and we held Primary in our house. We used to teach them from Gary Grower seminary videos and her church materials. We told stories and sang songs like a regular Primary class.

Whenever we talked about the gospel the spirit was so strong that the adversary worked harder. Some men used to have Pow-wows in a lodge nearby where they prepared their ceremonies. They would sing and chant and pray. Sometimes when we would return to our trailer we could feel the adversary’s spirit there. We knelt down and prayed and prayed and prayed, and sometimes we were so frightened we would leave and run down to the Elder’s trailer and have the Elder’s come and bless our trailer. I had a lot of experiences like that dealing with the adversary and how strong he is. He is real! He wants to get things his way, but you have to be stronger than he is.

Later I was transferred to the north-east corner of Montana. The first Lamanite brother I met was Gerald Red Elk and his wife Lenora. They were strong in the church. Brother Red Elk was a district president there. He had a rough life and tells his story of how he overcame alcohol. He used to tease me; instead of calling me Sister Dude, he called me Sister Dud. I didn’t mind. He and Sister Red Elk took good care of the missionaries. I had two brothers who went on this same mission after me and the Red
Elks took care of them too.

Serving my Heavenly Father and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ was the best. I know Jesus is the Christ and felt everyone needed to know. I love my brothers and sisters up North.

When missionaries would finish up their time, the usual farewell words were, ‘We’ll see you at BYU.’ After my eighteen-month mission it seemed going back to BYU was the thing to do. My sister Lorraine was there too and we roomed together. I mainly had B’s and C’s in high school. I had a C average at BYU. I took physics over three times until I got a B. I did okay in microbiology but didn’t like physics. Although I had many friends both girls and boys, I was not interested in marriage. Probably the reason I did not want to get married was because I used to see, especially at home, broken families and how hard it was. It took my little foster brother Scott, after he returned from a mission, to scold me. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Flora, I’m worried about you.’ I said, ‘Scott, why? I’m doing all right!’ He replied, ‘Flora, you are not living up to your responsibility. I looked at him and I knew exactly what he was going to say. I realized what he was talking about. That really shot me in the heart and I knew I needed to get married.

I listened to my foster parents so much. They used to always talk to me. They would sit me down and say, ‘Now, Flora, we don’t want half this and half that—we want Indian grand kids. We don’t want half white and half Indian. They often repeated that because I was growing up with the mainly Anglo people in Utah. My mom, however, was disappointed that I married an Apache instead of a returned white missionary.

I got a job and kept up my church activity and attended the temple two or three times a week. I stayed at BYU one more year but didn’t have my heart in it and was drawn back home. I then went to a community college but only got as far as a certified nursing aid.

It was at this time in my life that I got to know the man I was to marry, Russell Jay Shorten. He was raised and went to school in San Carlos and never went anywhere else. I didn’t really get to know him earlier because I was gone so much from San Carlos. The people there would see me leave and see me come back and see the things that I did. Russell was a friend of my brothers. He wasn’t a member of the Church when I met him; he was a Lutheran. We would never force our religion on him. We took a trip to Provo and my brothers invited him to come along. We were all shocked when he told us straightforward, ‘I want you to take me to Salt Lake. I want to go to the visitor’s center.’ He must have been very impressed for when we got back he started taking the missionary lessons and within two weeks he was baptized.

During this time Russell and I were getting acquainted, we were never alone. We would go as a group with my brothers and sister. We went to dances, movies, church activities. It seemed like when I was in San Carlos I always had to take my brothers and sister. About a year later, we decided we were in love, and I finally felt ready to get married. I was 25 years old which seemed really old to me in those days because my friends married much earlier. On November 11, 1977 we were married civilly in Globe, Arizona by our good friend and the first counselor in the stake presidency, and then December 1, 1990, we were married in the temple. Russell was very strong and active in the church and became a first counselor in the branch presidency. He was doing really well and our children were sealed to us. However, a bitter wind blew on my family. Russell turned toward the traditional ways. My children were raised in the church but now that they are all grown, they have chosen inactivity so I go to church alone. My two sons are Joseph, 27, and Michael, 26. My daughter is Katherine Louise, 25.

I am disappointed and saddened that my husband and children are inactive at present, but I have strong faith that this will change. I keep enduring and helping because I love my Heavenly Father and want to see him again. I have had many callings in our branch in all areas of the church organization and I am thankful for them. I have worked in every auxiliary and I have been relief society president more than once. I have had more than twenty years of callings. The gospel and my testimony of Jesus Christ give my life meaning and purpose. The gospel is life itself!

Since returning to San Carlos and becoming married, along with being a good mother to my kids I have had several jobs and positions mainly in education and in the medical field.

My first job was working with the San Carlos School District doing liaison stuff bringing the community and the school together. I held this pposition for 17 years and I am proud of the fact that I started the first parent-teen class in our community which has helped many families.

I became interested in helping the mentally retarded kids even though I wasn’t trained in it. I became a special education aid helping with the severely handicapped or retarded. My class is actually only a few students-- students who are very few in numbers but large in heart.

I want to tell you about one of my students. Have you ever heard of a severe problem called Rett’s Syndrome? In this malady a child may seem normal at birth, but later they don’t develop normally and may not be able to walk, talk, eat, or even be toilet trained. My young student has resided in a wheelchair for the last six years. I have fed her, helped keep her breathing, changed her diaper, and have loved her. I love this work and I love children I have worked with. I feel like I am working with angels.

Thank you for reading about my life.

Here I Am With My Family, From Left to Right, Michael, Katherine, Louise and Russell

This life story you just read was used with permission of Dale and Margene Shumway, Authors of the book, Blossoming II. They are available on titled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting us by email:, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage. As for the Blossoming II books. They are available on titled The Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting us by email:, by mail 486 W 40 N. Orem, UT 84057, or by telephone 801 235 0986. The retail cost is for book I $12.95 and for book II $14.95 plus postage.


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