Tuesday, August 11, 2009

38a - Ernie & Dorinda Crocker Have Been Blessed by the Indian Student Placement Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Lehi and His Family View the Promised Land -by Arnold Friberg
In this painting, Father Lehi and Mother Sariah and their family are counted among the ancestors of Native Americans of our day. In this painting, standing to the right of his mother, Sariah who is next to her husband, Lehi, is Nephi. The nation that came from them is called Nephites as Nephi was obedient to his father and to God.

In the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Nephi wrote the following:

2 Nephi 10: 18 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles; nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, (Most of the people of our day that came to the Americas) that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel.
19 Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, (We Gentiles) forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God. (emphasis and clarification added)
Nephi also wrote the following:

II Nephi 33: 3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness (his words written in The Book of Mormon) will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal. (Emphasis and Clarification Added)
Our words to Nephi: Your tears need not now flow so freely for your descendants of our day as they did during your days on earth!

The reason this is so, is because the Lord has softened the hearts of us who are the believing Gentiles of our day. Many blessings have and continue to come to your people in our day, first through the publishing of The Book of Mormon and the re-establishment of the Lord's authorized Church through which much attention is being given by its members to Nephi's descendants.

And then, among those descendants, many have been blessed by the Indian Student Placement Program that was an official Church Program for a good number of years. It no longer is needed, having successfully accomplished its purpose.

After telling of the beginnings of the Indian Student Placement Program in my Post 37n and as promised in that post, I will now be giving examples of how American Indian (Lamanite) people have been blessed through that program.

I am drawing each of the accounts from a Book entitled: The Blossoming II (it is the second of two books). It was edited by Dale and Margene Shumway of Orem, Utah, good friends of mine. It is still available:
As for the Blossoming I and II books. They are available on Amazon.com titled The Blossoming I or Blossoming II: Dramatic stories in the Lives of Native Americans. Also both Blossoming books are available by contacting (Dale and Margene Shumway) by email: dm06shumway@yahoo.com, 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.
I should point out that the title of that book is derived from a revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith from the Lord Jesus Christ in May of 1831. It is found in the
Doctrine and Covenants 49: 24 But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. (emphasis added)
After the following two paragraph comment I will quote from the Book: Blossoming II which was edited by Dale and Margene Shumway. It was first published in 2007. Comment:
Years ago when I was employed by the LDS Indian Placement Program first, in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California for two years and then in the San Jose, California area for about four years north of there, it was my privilege to have the WhiteRiver Apache Reservation as the area from which I drew most of my Indian Placement students who I placed in foster homes and whose placement progress I supervised.

I had the privilege of visiting that Reservation three to four times a year to fulfill my assignment there. During my years in that capacity I had the very special privilege of getting to know Ernie and Dorinda Crocker. I came to love and appreciate their great spirit and love for life and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for being faithful members of the Lord's Church. I knew parts of their story from what Dorinda had told me in past years, but I especially appreciated learning their full story from them while putting together this Blog Post, 38a.
This and the just previous post are longer than most of my past posts, but I feel you will be missing a very spiritual feast if you fail to read all of this!


Ernie and Dorinda Tessay Crocker

Preface (Whiteriver and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation)

White Mountain Apache Railroad
Approaching the White Mountain Apache homeland in east-central Arizona, the landscape rises from the more barren and harsh lower desert lands to the north and makes a scenic alteration as it heads southward.

As the land rises near Show Low, Arizona, it bursts forth into a green tranquility and vegetation continuing in three directions. This beautiful Apache Sitgreaves National Forest gives sanctuary to hundreds of thousands of mountain acres populated by pine and quaking aspen, featuring deer, elk, wild turkey, and high elevation grassland.
Continuing south past the mountain community of Pinetop-Lakeside we come upon more abundant acreage of choice mountain land, bordered on the east by the sacred Mt. Baldy, known as the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. This is the homeland of a group of the State of Arizona's longest settled citizens--the White Mountain Apache.

The administrative practices of the Apaches in managing their forest lands have dramatically changed from the earlier concepts of stripping forests and grazing cattle to the exciting tourist trade and high-tech land management featuring a clean, serene environmental package.

As tourism entrepreneurs, the Apache leaders have done well legislating through their small tribal council. Today, hordes of tourists are willing to pay premium prices to fish for exotic brands of trout in lakes and streams not found on Arizona road maps, or to be hosted in hunting prize deer and elk by expensive, expert, tribal guides.

Another tourist attraction is the Fort Apache Historic Park, which is also headquarters for the Mountain Apache Tribes and is listed on the national register of historic places. This fort originated as a United States Army Post in 1870. The adjacent community of Fort Apache was formerly the center of the reservation universe but in the modern age it has been surpassed by another town four miles to the north by the name of Whiteriver.

Together they have a combined population of about 13,000. Whiteriver is named for the sparkling mountain stream which flows through it. Apache tribal members are thought by Anglos to be fairly serious in their temperament. However, they also have a jovial, fun-loving streak. For example, in Whiteriver different sections of town have been given unusual and colorful names by their residents such as Knotts Landing, Diamond Creek, Rainbow City, Over the Rainbow, Cradleboard, China Town, Seven Mile, Whiskey Flats, Yucca Flats, and Dark Shadows.

Ernie Crocker writes: Adjacent to the Whiteriver stream is the prosperous and friendly bevy of homes known as the Crocker Compound, home of Ernie and Dorinda Crocker and several kinsmen.

Ernie Crocker’s life story began at this Whitewater homestead when Joseph and Ellen Ethelbah Crocker welcomed him as their sixth of eleven children on March 17, 1937. (Ernie is now the oldest living family member, with only two sisters living.) His paternal grandfather was Kaga (the Indian name from which Crocker originated), and his maternal grandparents were John and Bissie Susseus Ethelbah.

Ernie’s memories begin as a young child.

My Father was mostly a cattleman. He had about 300-400 cattle which he drove from our reservation as far as McNary. In springtime, we had about 40-50 calves. As a little boy, I stayed with my grandma while my parents and the older boys drove the cattle up to pasture by one of the beautiful mountain springs. When I got older, I was happy to work for my father from spring through fall. In the river-bottoms, we had a house with two bedrooms and a living room and a stove, but no running water. My family had a few horses and a wagon.

My father didn’t drive a car but later, about 1960, he bought his own tractor and pickup. In those days, father had an estate of 20 acres where his grandchildren now live. Our family now has about 40 head of cattle."

I was six years old when I first attended school in 1944. It happened like this. One fall day I was down by the river bottoms playing around while my mom was washing clothes with our old wringer washing machine:

My big brother Herbie came to the house around noontime and asked if I wanted to go to school. My mom looked surprised but she said it was okay, so I left with Herbie, and we went to school. The boarding school in Whiteriver was full and didn’t accept any new students by then, so our only choice was the public school in Whiteriver, a one-room building that went through sixth grade.

From the start I liked school. I was pretty good in mathematics, especially multiplication and division. Reading? I liked that too! I remember Dick and Jane—run, run, run, and that dog named spot could run also.

After finishing the sixth grade, we went up to Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fort Apache for grades seven through twelve. Every morning we went up the hill to catch the bus. I stuck with it and I graduated in 1956.
After graduation, I roamed around working with the cattle for my dad. I worked for the Tribal Forestry Department during the summer, serving as a crew boss of four men. We scouted the area fixing roads and watching for fires. Later in 1956, I started working at the lumber mill in McNary, where I was employed for 34 years. During my more than 30 years laboring in our beautiful forest our tribal management of the lands has gone through many changes for the better. We used to do a lot of cutting and selling of our timber resources. Sadly, we cut down a lot of the biggest trees in our forest. We don’t cut those heritage trees down any more!

Actually, with the change in tribal philosophy to promoting tourism visits and practicing good forest ecology, we don’t cut down our trees as much as we did before. At present, we only cut down about one-third of the timber that we did in the past, and we do a lot of re-planting of our timber. The way we manage the forest these days makes me happy.

In 1980 I was first elected to the White Mountain Apache tribal council which was a fine opportunity for me. There are only ten delegates elected to the council, two for each district. I served as a councilman for eight years, traveling all over the state and to distant Washington, D.C., California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. We didn’t get paid to be on the council. I was still working at the mill at that time. We did, however, get reimbursed for our traveling expenses and our meals. I also assisted in an assignment with the Apache Tribal Housing Authority.

The Whiteriver LDS branch was started in about 1950. Prior to its beginning, a couple of missionaries were sent to meet with our tribal council in Whiteriver and obtain the proper permission. The council sent them up to the Kettle Pasture because my dad was up there (he was one of the tribal council at that time). Those two brethren found my father and talked seriously in seeing if they could get the Church organized on the reservation. After meeting with my father, the tribal council met with one of the councilmen representing the Church. Our Chief Alchesay was there also. Representatives from the other churches opposed the motion, saying there was already a church on the reservation. But after a lot of discussion, the council finally agreed to allow the missionaries and church meetings on the reservation. So my dad helped start the missionary effort here, even though he wasn’t a member.

The early missionaries told us we had beautiful country—like paradise. They used to ride a bicycle or walk, and they went from door to door trying to teach us. Although most whites were not invited into our homes, quite a few of our people allowed them inside and there began to be quite a few members.
I got married in 1961 to Dorinda Tessay. I was 24, and she was 25. At the start of our marriage although my wife was a member of the Church, she didn’t attend until she was re-activated by her good friends. After that she went to church every Sunday and I went with her. I learned a lot of good things about the Church and got to know the people. The missionaries came by and talked to me, I liked what I heard and saw, and I finally joined the Church.

I was called to work with the young men in Mutual Improvement Association.

It was hard at first for me to really become active, but I had a lot of friends who encouraged and helped me. Our mailman who had the route between Maverick and Cibecue was our branch president, and he became a good friend of mine. Whenever we had free time, he would take me hunting and fishing. After he moved away, one of the local Apache men became branch president until he ran for politics. I became branch president around 1962, after having been a member for four years. Since that time, I have served as branch president three different times for a total of eighteen years.
I have loved being able to serve in my church and also with my tribal council. But serving in the church has been more fulfilling because I have felt the influence and the power of God and have had the influence of his hand and inspiration in my callings. Another wonderful happening for me was when I took Dorinda to the temple when I was 32.

Another high point in my life was my opportunity to serve as a counselor in the Show Low Stake Presidency for three years.

In speaking of spiritual experiences, let me tell you about a dream which had a strong impact on me.

In my dream I saw my father in the other world lying on a bed alone by himself. In my dream, I said to my dad, ‘Where’s Mother?’ With a sad forlorn look on his face, he answered, ‘I don’t know.’
In figuring out this short dream my inspiration is that it is a message about the importance of doing our family history or genealogical and temple sealing for our kindred dead.

I believe the meaning of my dream is that if we are faithful and are up to date in this important work then we won’t have any worries about where our parents or grandparents are in the afterlife. If we do our part they will be safe and with their spouses as they continue to progress in the next world. (emphasis added)

Bland and Janet Nachu Tessay of Cibecue, Arizona were celebrating Independence Day, 1936, in Whiteriver when a blessed but unexpected event happened—the early arrival of their daughter, Dorinda.
Unfortunately, my mother died when I was seven years old, so my younger brother and I were cared for mostly by my father. My younger sister was taken by my aunt to live in Whiteriver because she was too young for my father to raise.

Father was a Lutheran farmer, who believed in working at home and in going to church every Sunday. Father was an interpreter for the local preacher, translating from English to Apache. That’s where I became acquainted with Jesus Christ and the Bible stories.

There were no Latter-day Saint (LDS) churches until around April 1950 when the elders started showing up and holding Primary classes in Cibecue.

My friend and I were curious to know about this new religion and what they were doing in our town—it was a new thing. One week-day we went to one of their classes, and I was immediately attracted. I really enjoyed the visual aids of Jesus Christ and the Bible and Book of Mormon stories. I began to go every Wednesday.

In May of that year Elder Robert Brown asked if my friend Alta Caro and I would like to leave the reservation and live with a LDS family and go to school. (This was before the Indian Placement Program.)

Alta and I had never left our small village of Cibecue, which was quite primitive in those days, with only horses and wagons and no paved roads. After thinking hard and talking with our family and getting their okay, we decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Elder Brown made the arrangements with friends of his family, and in July, I went to live with Dr. Elmo and Rhea Eddington and their daughter, Jane, in Lehi, Utah. The Eddingtons also had two married sons. Jane was the same age as me. I stayed with the Eddingtons until the end of my eighth-grade school year, living with them each year from September until the first part of June.

It was quite a strange experience for me: the food tasted different, I had my own bed, and I had a shower just for me. It was all new to me. Yes, I enjoyed it, and I learned a lot from the Eddingtons. They really took good care of me and made a home for me, even though I wasn’t a member of the Church. Doctor Eddington had his own hospital and it seemed he wasn’t home very much.

Mrs. Eddington—I called her Grandma Eddington— took care of the family and was involved in many things in the church and community. Jane and I attended Sunday School on Sunday mornings and Sacrament Meeting on Sunday evenings, and we went to Mutual during the week. The church was in walking distance. We walked through a park to get there. During this time, I learned a lot spiritually and became acquainted with the doctrine and teachings of the Church.

In a surprise to me, the Book of Mormon was introduced to me not by my foster family, but by an Apache lady married to an Anglo who happened to be living in Lehi. I loved reading that book and I worked hard to learn its meaning. After I finished reading it I knew I wanted to become a member of the Church. I wrote home to my father asking him to give me permission to be baptized, which he granted, and I was baptized. (Emphasis Added)

A special spiritual experience happened at Christmas time in Salt Lake City before I joined the Church. I was watching the Christmas parade with my foster family. They were excited about seeing the float with President David O. McKay on it coming toward us: ‘Here it comes! Here he comes!’ I was watching with much interest.


President David O. Mckay, Former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
 When the float passed by and I saw him, I was overcome with spirit and emotion. I felt weak! And then I almost jumped out of my skin for he was looking right at me. I was so amazed at the sight of this grand prophet and the fact that he noticed me- -an Apache Indian girl from the reservation. I couldn’t get over the strong feelings I had as he passed. We went to a restaurant to eat after the parade, and I couldn’t even eat. My family said, ‘Aren’t you hungry?’ All I could say was, ‘President McKay—President McKay!’ (emphasis added)

After that year, I went home and attended a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding high school in Phoenix. (We had no high school on the Apache reservation at that time, just a school that only went up to eighth grade.

There was an Indian school, Theodore Roosevelt School, which went to twelfth grade, but I had never had a desire to go there.) After several years at the BIA school, I lived in other places close to the reservation in order to get my high school diploma. I went to school in McNary, Az., and was able to attend church every Sunday in Whiteriver.
One of the missionaries asked me where I was going to live because I didn’t really have a home. (My father was elderly and lived by himself.) An LDS missionary got interested in me and my situation and invited me to live with his family in Great Falls, Montana.

The missionary paid my way, and I lived with his family for my senior year and graduated from high school in Great Falls. Going into high school as a church member and getting involved in the Church helped me get ahead in my life. The Lord was always there for me in my journey through high school. I believe Father in Heaven was the one that made sure that somebody was there to help me get my education.

After I graduated from high school, I went to Salt Lake City because the trip home was long and my foster family could only pay my way that far.

Another Whiteriver missionary made arrangements for his parents to pick me up in Salt Lake City, and I stayed with them for about two months in the summer of 1957 until I was able to return home.

During the time I was there, the mother of one of the missionaries asked me if I wanted to have a patriarchal blessing. She explained the purpose of a patriarchal blessing and she made arrangements for me to get my blessing from Patriarch Eldred G. Smith: (The main Church Patriarch!) I was thrilled at the opportunity.

My patriarchal blessing has given me direction and spiritual understandings that have been a big blessing in my life. It was overwhelming to me to have a spiritual picture of my future because I was feeling all by myself, with hardly anyone to support me except the Church.

While I was in Salt Lake the Lord was still looking out for me in other ways. During my visit there, President Golden Buchanan, the mission president of the Southwest Indian Mission located in Gallup, New Mexico, was notified of my whereabouts by his missionaries. President Buchanan made arrangements for me to meet with Apostle Spencer W. Kimball.
During our interview, Elder Kimball encouraged me to apply to Brigham Young University under the Indian Education program, a new scholarship program. I told him that I’d never thought much about the privilege of preparing for higher education and I hadn’t been much of a scholar in high school. He again urged me to apply. (emphasis added)

Elder Kimball was so nice to me and so concerned about me getting more education that I didn’t want to say no to him. So I applied, and I got accepted right away. I stayed at BYU for two years (1957-1959) studying general education.

The opportunity to go to college was a beautiful blessing, and I learned a lot. I learned how to take care of myself and manage money. I paid my own room and board by working in the BYU laundry and visual-aid department, and by babysitting. When the money ran low, my roommate and I lived with foster families who accepted us temporarily while we went to school.

These families were a blessing for us because there were times when too many of us Indian students crowded together in an small apartment. At one time, eight of us were in an apartment which was supposed to hold three or four.

There were forty-eight Indian students at BYU at that time. I was the only Apache student, but we had representatives from many different tribes all over the United States. We took care of each other, making sure we got to class and attended our activities. My schooling ended after those two years at BYU.

My education has helped me all these many years in my church callings and in my employment at the Trading Post and the and at the Navajo-Apache Electric Company. I also got involved in education parent committees and as a teacher’s aid where I was able to tutor students. In these jobs I earned the needed money to help support my family.

After school, I was on my own, and sadly, for a time, I strayed from the Church. I returned home and through family connections I met my
future husband, Ernie Crocker. We met and liked each other from the start.
Many of my Provo Church friends didn’t want me to get married. They suggested three things to me: ‘Dorinda, continue your schooling, don’t get married until you finish your education, and finally, "do not live on the reservation.” I understood their feelings, but I felt I had obtained enough schooling for what I wanted in life: I wanted to get married, raise a family, and live in Whiteriver.

When I started going with Ernie, some of my friends worried and expressed, "What is she doing?" Why isn’t she marrying an LDS man? But I have never regretted my marriage to Ernie. I knew from the first that he was a good man with a spiritual background, and I had faith that he would be a good husband and father. Yes, living on the reservation, we have had a lot of hardships, but they have made us who we are today.

Ernie was baptized into the Lutheran church and then never went back. He states his family didn’t attend church, but his father taught him about spiritual things. Ernie knows a lot about the Bible. Let me tell you about a meaningful experience of my life which happened soon after Ernie and I were married.

Shortly after my marriage, my friends Nancy Quay and Lynn Cody were called on missions. Nancy was my closest friend at the time, and she asked me to write a talk for her to give at her missionary farewell meeting. I hadn’t been to church for two years, so I was hesitant. She begged me to do it, and I reluctantly agreed. But I never did—I forgot. I was working at the trading post and didn’t think about it again until the Sunday she reminded me that it was her farewell and asked me to come. Ernie and I had never been to church together.

We didn’t have transportation, so we had to get a ride. That Sunday we were walking up the hill to the church, and I had the urge to not go. I kept pulling Ernie back and saying, ‘Let’s not go!’ But Ernie kept walking, and then some members picked us up and brought us to the church. When we walked into the chapel, I felt so strange because I hadn’t been there for two years.

Nancy came running up to me and said, ‘Dorinda, Dorinda, do you have my talk?’ I confessed, ‘Oh, I forgot.’ She then added, ‘Your name is on the list to give a talk.’ I was frightened and nervous. I had never met the branch president or anyone there, but I got up and the Lord through the Holy Ghost gave me the words to say in a little talk.

That’s the day I got back into the church, and it was a most wonderful experience. Since then, I’ve been a member for 54 years. I give credit to the faith and prayers of those church members to get me back into activity.

Ernie joined the Church shortly thereafter, and ever since then we have been climbing in the gospel. Our third child, Leon, was the first of our children that Ernie was able to give a priesthood blessing and an earthly name. When Leon was almost two years old, we were able to be sealed in the Mesa Temple.

Our marriage has brought us a lot of blessings. We’ve been able to help others. When Ernie’s sister passed away, we accepted his nephews, Keith and Lambert Crocker, into our home. They lived with us for a short time, and we got them baptized and involved in the Church. And when the Church made a movie about the Placement program named Day of Promise.

Lambert was one of the main characters in that production. These boys soared in the gospel and in the Placement program. Lambert, the older of the two, has been in the service and is now in the police department. He went on a mission and was married in the temple. He has three boys.

Keith lives in Kearns, Utah. He has five boys; two of them have graduated from high school. One of his boys was named the outstanding student at Kearns High School and was also the student body president. He is now attending BYU, where he plans to go one semester and then go on a mission. They’re all very active church members and I’m really proud of those two. They give me credit for getting them involved in the church. They love us like we’re their mom and dad.

I have tried to stay close to the Church all these many years. Our family has been blessed by our friendly association with other Church members, and we have so much connection and things in common with them. It is like we are a big family.
Many of the youngsters in the branch call us grandparents and we think of them as grandchildren. They never pass us up without a greeting or a goodbye. They let us know when they leave home to go to school, when they get married, and when they have special occasions. We have reaped the blessings of living the gospel, and we have grown a lot with our Lamanite brothers and sisters in the Church.

Dorinda Crocker Writes:Children of Ernie Crocker and Dorinda Tessay Crocker

Anthony Crocker, age 46: Participated in the placement program; graduated from the Intermountain Indian School at Brigham City, Utah, as a machinist; is a machinist for a sawmill; Married with five children.

Vicki Crocker Suttle, age 43: Graduated from Brigham City, Utah; has five children; is a matron in maintenance department at Hon-dah Casino.

Leon Crocker, age 39: Cashier at Hon-dah Casino; has four children.

Janet Crocker, age 38: Graduated from Alchesay High School; is a homemaker and mother of two teenage daughters.

Eileen Crocker Pike, age 35: Some college education; just returned from Georgia, where husband was stationed (he also served in Iraq); has two children.

Ernie and Dorinda cherish their children and family relationships. They have tried to cultivate a love of the gospel in their children by sharing their own experiences.

We wanted all of our kids to go on Placement one or two years just to get the experience. Some people asked why we would send our children on Placement when we were already such a good Mormon family, but we thought it would be a wonderful experience.

All of them had this experience in California, except the youngest, who went to Richfield, Utah.
Dorinda concludes, Of our children, only Anthony and Eileen are currently active in Church, but they are working on their sisters and brother. We also have 19 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Our greatest joy is seeing our family living good lives. We meet often and have dinner together in our yard beside the river under the trees.

Ernie and Dorinda Crocker


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