The Indian Great Awakening
Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America
University Press 2012
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Biblical StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network January 10, 2013 Andrew Epstein
Just east of the Norwich-New London Turnpike in Uncasville, Connecticut, stands the Mohegan Congregational Church. By most accounts, it’s little different than the thousands of white-steepled structures dotting the New England landscape: the same high-backed wooden chairs, high ceilings, images of lordly white men. To the careful observer, there is one notable distinction. Just above a traditional cross near the front entrance hangs a single, perfect eagle feather.
The juxtaposition might be startling for some. But as Brown historian Linford D. Fisher beautifully illuminates in The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America(Oxford University Press, 2012), Native cultures in New England – and, indeed, most everywhere – are highly incorporative, blending elements of Christian religious practice with their own.
This was never more the case than during the eighteenth century evangelical revival known to scholars as the First Great Awakening. A significant turning point in American spiritual life, Native peoples of New England are often left out of the narrative. When they’re included, it’s as passive targets of conversion. Fisher tells a dramatically different story.