I am currently a Primary teacher, and was marveling at the talent of the music leader a few weeks ago as she engaged the attention of kids age 3 to 11 with a variety of games, songs, and physical activity. Particularly when the singing was coupled with physical activity, the kids were fully interested and getting out their “wiggles.” There was a game looking for clues, and then punctuated with lively songs.

One of those songs was familiar to me from my own childhood Primary days:

Book of Mormon stories that my teacher tells to me
Are about the Lamanites in ancient history.
Long ago their fathers came from far across the sea,
Giv’n the land if they lived righteously.
Lamanites met others who were seeking liberty,
And the land soon welcomed all who wanted to be free.
Book of Mormon stories say that we must brothers be,
Giv’n the land if we live righteously.


This was sung with gusto by the room full of white children and teachers, including accompanying gestures designed to mimic generic Native American cultures: two fingers behind the head as if they were feathers, crossing the arms in front and nodding, and so forth. I’m not sure if my memory is accurate, but as I recall from my own days in Primary, the gestures were even worse with fake tomohawk chopping motions, war whoops, and perhaps raising one hand as if to say “How!” I’m shaking my head just thinking about those days, back in the 1970s. But this particular sharing time was in 2021, over 40 years later. I haven’t been in Primary in decades, probably since the 90s, so this came as a particular shock to me.

  • Is Book of Mormon stories racist? Does your answer depend on the hand motions?
  • Are there other problematic Primary songs?