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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Church and State in the History of Southern Paiutes in Cedar City, Utah


In the twentieth century, Indian communities most often live on land held in trust by the federal government, which then uses that trust obligation to justify management of tribal affairs. There are exceptions to this relationship, however, and one of the rarest is a native community residing on land privately owned by a church absent of any federal oversight. It was precisely this latter relationship that Southern Paiutes experienced throughout much of this century at Cedar City, Utah, where they lived on land owned and managed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The development of this situation in a series of federal and church actions and decisions reflected the power of the two bureaucracies as they challenged each other for control over Paiute lives. Mormon oversight has had numerous long-term impacts on the Cedar City Paiute community, as well as implications for issues of church and state in American Indian policy.

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