Friday, January 22, 2010

Experience Mayhew's Indian Converts

Up until this point I have had little to say about the Wampanoag Indians, but they bear more than just a mention in Algonkian Church History. The Wampanoags were a community of Christian Algonkians that was established long before King Philip's War and lasted long after the Stockbridge Indians left Massachusetts.

In 1727, Experience Mayhew's collection of Native biographies came out under the title Indian Converts, or Some account of the lives and dying speeches of a considerable number of the Christianized Indians of Martha's Vineyard, in New-England.

A new scholarly edition of Mayhew's book came out recently with an introduction by Laura Leibman, a professor of English and Humanities at Reed College.

Thanks to somebody at Reed College (probably the librarians), many digital images, several study guides, and more are available online as the Indian Converts Collection.

Here's a few links to images and other resources in the Reed College Indian Converts Collection:

Chapel at Gay Head
Sampson's Hill Meeting House
South Mashapee School

A small number of grammar school students had the opportunity to pursue further education at the Harvard Indian College.

Is it possible that some Indians who claimed to be Christians were just "playing along" in order to get something from the whites? Many certainly did. It is easier to understand those kinds of issues in light of the Reed College Indian Converts Collection's study guide on magistrates and guardians.

There is also an important study guide on "Island Christianity."

Monday, January 11, 2010

God Is Red: A Native View of Religion - or Should it be "One Native's View of Religion"?

Vine Deloria's God is Red: A Native View of Religion is essentially an opposing viewpoint to Algonkian Church History. Nevertheless, both can still be (and in my opinion are) "good reads."

In God is Red and his other books, I have to wonder if Deloria is attacking Christianity per se or is he only attacking the beliefs and practices of certain white American Christians. Deloria paints with broad strokes, which also raises the question of whether he actually thinks that he can speak for all Native Americans. Perhaps he made a conscious decision to employ a more powerful all-emcompassing rhetoric, and realized there might be exceptions to the rules he was laying out.

But are the Stockbridge Mohicans and their missionaries, the Brothertown Indians, the praying Indians of the 1600's, and many other Christian Indians merely exceptions to Vine Deloria's rules? Academics should consider that question when they read Deloria.