Native Americans, Christianity, and the Reshaping of the American Religious Landscape

Paul Harvey

Here's a review from Choice of a new anthology/essay collection of tremendous value to those interested in the relationship of Native Americans and Christianity. Below the review I'm pasting in a table of contents, as well; as you will see, a number of the top scholars in this field -- Joanna Brooks, Hilary Wyss, Emma Anderson, Rachel Wheeler, Michael McNally, Steven Hackel, and others -- are represented here. So, first the brief review, and then more detail below that; the link below in the title takes you to the book's website at UNC Press. For those not as familiar with this topic, this is a great way to introduce yourself, in bite-sized portions, to some of the best recent scholarship.

Native Americans, Christianity, and the reshaping of the American religious landscape, ed. by Joel W. Martin and Mark A. Nicholas. North Carolina, 2010. 325p index afp; ISBN 9780807834060, $75.00; ISBN 9780807871454 pbk, $27.95. Reviewed in 2011mar CHOICE.

Martin and Nicholas's valuable essay collection addressing Native American interactions with European/European-American Christianity during the Colonial period and into the 19th century incorporates multiple disciplines, including history, religious studies, Native American studies, anthropology, and literary studies. Collectively, the authors illustrate Native agency in interactions with non-Native Christians. Rather than presenting Native experiences from a Eurocentric perspective, the authors show how Natives embraced Christian symbols and ideas, using them in ways that benefitted themselves and their fellow Natives and showing that, for those who chose to embrace Christian faiths, it was possible to be both Native and Christian. The essays also show that even when interaction with non-Natives brought Native communities hardship, Native peoples shaped Christianity in such a way as to benefit themselves and their communities. Each essay is well researched, eloquently written, and significant to the understanding of Native experiences in and with Christianity. An important contribution to a variety of disciplines, most importantly US Christianity, Native peoples, and US history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above

Table of Contents:

Hard feelings : Samson Occom contemplates his Christian mentors / Joanna Brooks -- Eager partners in reform : Indians and Frederick Baylies in Southern New England, 1780-1840 / Daniel Mandell -- Crisscrossing Projects of Sovereignty and conversion : Cherokee Christians and New England missionaries during the 1820s / Joel W. Martin -- Native American popular religion in New England's Old Colony, 1670-1770 / Douglas L. Winiarski -- Blood, fire, and "baptism" : three perspectives on the death of Jean de Brébeuf, seventeenth-century Jesuit "martyr" / Emma Anderson -- The Catholic rosary, gendered practice, and female power in French-Indian spiritual encounters / Tracy Neal Leavelle -- The souls of Highlanders, the salvation of Indians : Scottish mission and eighteenth-century British empire / Laura M. Stevens -- Print culture and the power of native literacy in California and New England Missions / Steven W. Hackel and Hilary E. Wyss -- Hendrick Aupaumut : Christian-Mahican prophet / Rachel Wheeler -- To become a chosen people : the missionary work and missionary spirit of the Brotherton and Stockbridge Indians, 1775-1835 / David J. Silverman -- Conclusion : turns and common grounds / Mark A. Nicholas -- Coda : naming the legacy of native Christian missionary encounters / Michael D. McNally


John Fea said…
I was surprised that Rick Pointer was not included in this collection. I thought his book *Encounters in the Spirit: Native Americans and European Colonial Religion* was outstanding.
Christopher said…
Excelent. A lot of good stuff in this volume. I'll add it to my list of post-comps books to read.