Dale T. Tingey

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Dale T. Tingey is a religious educator, former Air Force pilot, psychologist, and humanitarian. He was a teacher and administrator with the Church Educational System teaching and supervising in Seminary and Institute when he accepted a call to preside over the Southwest Indian Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During his three years of service (from 1968 to 1971), he got to know Native Americans in Utah, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Upon his return, he was asked to take over as director of the Institute of American Indian Studies and Research at Brigham Young University. In 1989, BYU decided to retire its Indian Institute so Tingey stepped in to direct the program voluntarily and independently. The name was changed to American Indian Services and began operating as a nonprofit charity.

Tingey built the organization in an “understated, tireless way”[1] and through the years raised millions of dollars for scholarships for Native American youth. He also fostered programs and found funds for agricultural needs for the reservations throughout North America.

To stay in contact with missionaries scattered across the remote Four Corners area, Dale would pilot his Cessna 172 and buzz their trailers and hogans each day. If they needed help, the missionaries would raise their arms and he would land; if all

was well, they would stand still and Dale would open the window on his aircraft and drop messages to them in pop cans.[2]

As AIS director, Tingey kept organizing fundraisers and flying to reservations to meet with tribal leaders, deliver supplies and host seminars. He developed a reputation as a great pilot who could fly and land about any place – and often did. Once, with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young aboard, Tingey’s plane ran out of gas and they were forced to land in a farmer’s field. On another occasion his plane blew a rod over Zion National Park and he somehow piloted it another 15 minutes to make an emergency landing in Hurricane.[3]
“Angels flew with him wherever he went,” AIS board member Glen Overton says.[4]

Tingey headed the organization until 2012, when he retired from that position at the age of eighty-eight and became director emeritus. In an interview with the Deseret News, Tingey said,

I want to support the new leadership team to ensure a seamless transition. And I want to spend more time with the Indian people. I'm looking forward to that.
I just want to perpetuate what we've got going. I once asked (LDS Church) President Kimball how long I should stay with AIS. He said I should stay with it till I die … and I will.[5]

Tingey began teaching early morning Seminary in 1950. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and education from the University of Utah. He later trained Seminary teachers while working to obtain his master’s degree in philosophy from BYU. He worked in the Institute program adjacent to Washington State University while he completed his PhD in educational psychology.

In 2003, John P. Livingstone published a biography Same Drum, Different Beat: The Story of Dale T. Tingey and American Indian Services. In 2011 the Anasazi Foundation honored him with its Turn for Peace Award.