Lee was the first Native American to become a general authority of the Mormon (Latter-day Saints) church. He was born to a traditional (non-Christian) Navajo family, one of 17 children. He became a nominal Mormon when he was sent to a US Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, registered there as a Mormon simply because the white trader who "recruited" him was one.
At age 12 he was fostered by a Mormon family in Utah, where he stayed for several years, seeing his birth family in the summers. He was an excellent student and a devout Mormon, graduated from Brigham Young University and got a Ph.D. from Utah State University.
He became a teacher and later president of a college, and has held many honors and scholarships. In 1975 he was appointed to the First Quorum of the Seventy and a general authority (roughly equivalent to an archbishop in the Catholic church), but in 1989 he was removed from office and excommunicated for apostasy and unbecoming conduct, including alleged child sexual abuse - but possibly really for questioning the leadership's position on the rôle of Native Americans in the church.
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