Navajo Tradition, Mormon Life shows how Jim Dandy—a Mormon Navajo who participated in the Indian Student Placement Program, attended Brigham Young University, and taught school in San Juan County, Utah—combines his Navajo and Mormon lifestyles. He asked his Anglo neighbor Robert S. McPherson, a professor at Utah State University Eastern–San Juan Center, to help him record his history. McPherson has written many books on Navajo culture and history, including Navajo Land, Navajo Culture: The Utah Experience in the Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001) and A Navajo Legacy: The Life and Teachings of John Holiday (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005). His research is well respected by the academic community and Native American tribes. Sarah E. Burak was an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Utah and helped McPherson with the Dandy interviews.
Before I read the book, I was acquainted with Jim Dandy's story because I had interviewed him in October 1990 for the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies' LDS Native American Oral History Project. The interview took place shortly after George P. Lee of the Seventy was excommunicated from the LDS Church. After discussing his experiences as a Latter-day Saint and as the son of a medicine man, Dandy, who had served as a mission companion with Lee, expressed his feeling that Lee had moved away from Church teachings even though he was a General Authority. At the end of the interview, Dandy graciously thanked me for the opportunity to share his experiences, leaving me with the impression that he was a well-spoken, forthright, kind, and courteous man who focused on his convictions as a Latter-day Saint.