Linford explains the critical role that the economic realities

Linford D. Fisher in the book, The Indian great awakening: Religion and the shaping of native cultures in early America, undertakes to rebuild a controversial past of what has been conventionally known as “the Indian Great Awakening” and which infers to that period in time when the native Indians in the New England converted to Christianity en masse in the 18th century. In his account, he challenges the notion that the native Indians wholeheartedly took to not only welcoming the white colonialists but also embraced their religion, Christianity. Instead, he argues that the socio-political situation that the native Indians found themselves in pushing them to take extreme measures so as to survive, including the strategic decision to embrace Christianity. All through the book he posits that the conversion to Christianity by the natives was more practical and provisional given the underlying circumstances at that given time. In an effort to clarify that the decision was not made out of goodwill, he undertakes to record in detail the various responses made by the native Indians to the religion, such as; the transition from rejection to adoption, and thus helping demonstrate the incidence of multiplicity and diversity within the native community.

He further explains the critical role that the economic realities of the Indians played in shaping their cultural engagements with the newly formed England colonies. For example, he notes that one of the most interesting tactics that was adopted by the whites to successfully manipulate the native Indians was “indebtedness.” All through the book he elucidates how the Europeans would undertake to set up a battering market where their main trading item would be liquor. Once the Indians became accustomed to the European commodity on offer, their indebtedness would grow enormously, and which would involve them giving up their land to get the said commodity (Fisher, 2012). The continued loss of land through the manipulative trade practices of the settlers weakened the status of the Indians economically since they would no longer fend for their families. This prompted a large percentage of them to consider adopting the proposed ways of the evangelical colonies in order to survive.

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Education remains one of the most notable tools that the missionaries used in their quest to produce literate, Christianized, and culturally anglicized Indian men and women. The native Indians on the surface appeared to welcome the educational opportunities that were offered by the evangelical Christians and which culminated in them converting to Christianity (Fisher, 2012). However, Fisher argues that the unfolding reality was more complicated than the presupposed trajectory it posed at the surface. He asserts that the literacy skills that the Indians gained through the educational opportunity helped them fight for their indigenous rights. This is affirmed by the fact that the native Indians would in less than a century open their native schools and demand deployment of native teachers.

The same can be said about the native churches that were later established. Looking at the church records, Fisher concludes that the religious relationship that existed between the natives and the Europeans was more of affiliation based rather than conversion. He argues that the affiliation was based on the need to protect greater leverage and advance the social position of the natives. The Indian separatist movement emerged later as a result of the disillusioning experiences that the natives suffered in the Anglican churches such as; the expulsion of some members, and subjection to bad treatment. Fisher notes that it is ironical how the Indians used the very same institutions that were required to assist convert them to faithful English subjects, to generate semi-autonomous room through which they could be able to exercise a great deal of autonomy. In the book, Fisher postulates how the Indians never perceived Christianity as a totalizing worldview by arguing that they appended Christianity as “both provisional and incomplete.” This helps challenge the long-held historical trajectory that the Indian conversion to Christianity was mutual.

Over the course of the eight chapters of the book, Fisher argues that the native Indians repeatedly found that the missionary religion, education and even practices to be both useful and interesting, although they were filtered through the reality of colonialism and the deep abiding belief that it was meant to manipulate them to give their land and conventional practices (Fisher, 2012). Historically, religious conversions have been used to set communities on a different trajectory than what they were used to and in most cases in close alliance with the colonial masters. The native Indian communities had been going through numerous hardships when the settlers moved into the New England communities, and this circumstantially forced the Indians to adopt the new set of beliefs and practices set by the colonialists as a survival tactic.

In the book, Fisher posits that the native Indians leveraged on affiliation when faced with strategic decisions such as the conversion to Christianity and used the same to their own benefit. This notwithstanding, it is notable that ethnographic data on the practices as well as actual beliefs held by the Indians are grossly missing all through the book. According to Fisher (2012), it is important for one to evaluate their religion so as to be able to understand how it allowed for flexibility that encompassed the adoption of some Christian values. The presence and flourishing of the Indian separatist movement helps elucidate how a large percentage of the natives became accustomed to Christianity. It is, thus, probable to argue that the inculcation of Christianity ideals through education was critical to the flourishing and widespread adoption of its values within the native communities.

 

Reference

Fisher, L. D. (2012). The Indian great awakening: Religion and the shaping of native cultures in early America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

 Linford D. Fisher in the book, The Indian great awakening: Religion and the shaping of native cultures in early America, undertakes to rebuild a controversial past of what has been conventionally known as “the Indian Great Awakening” and which infers to that period in time when the native Indians in the New England converted to Christianity en masse in the 18th century. In his account, he challenges the notion that the native Indians wholeheartedly took to not only welcoming the white colonialists but also embraced their religion, Christianity. Instead, he argues that the socio-political situation that the native Indians found themselves in pushing them to take extreme measures so as to survive, including the strategic decision to embrace Christianity. All through the book he posits that the conversion to Christianity by the natives was more practical and provisional given the underlying circumstances at that given time. In an effort to clarify that the decision was not made out of goodwill, he undertakes to record in detail the various responses made by the native Indians to the religion, such as; the transition from rejection to adoption, and thus helping demonstrate the incidence of multiplicity and diversity within the native community.

He further explains the critical role that the economic realities of the Indians played in shaping their cultural engagements with the newly formed England colonies. For example, he notes that one of the most interesting tactics that was adopted by the whites to successfully manipulate the native Indians was “indebtedness.” All through the book he elucidates how the Europeans would undertake to set up a battering market where their main trading item would be liquor. Once the Indians became accustomed to the European commodity on offer, their indebtedness would grow enormously, and which would involve them giving up their land to get the said commodity (Fisher, 2012). The continued loss of land through the manipulative trade practices of the settlers weakened the status of the Indians economically since they would no longer fend for their families. This prompted a large percentage of them to consider adopting the proposed ways of the evangelical colonies in order to survive.

Education remains one of the most notable tools that the missionaries used in their quest to produce literate, Christianized, and culturally anglicized Indian men and women. The native Indians on the surface appeared to welcome the educational opportunities that were offered by the evangelical Christians and which culminated in them converting to Christianity (Fisher, 2012). However, Fisher argues that the unfolding reality was more complicated than the presupposed trajectory it posed at the surface. He asserts that the literacy skills that the Indians gained through the educational opportunity helped them fight for their indigenous rights. This is affirmed by the fact that the native Indians would in less than a century open their native schools and demand deployment of native teachers.

The same can be said about the native churches that were later established. Looking at the church records, Fisher concludes that the religious relationship that existed between the natives and the Europeans was more of affiliation based rather than conversion. He argues that the affiliation was based on the need to protect greater leverage and advance the social position of the natives. The Indian separatist movement emerged later as a result of the disillusioning experiences that the natives suffered in the Anglican churches such as; the expulsion of some members, and subjection to bad treatment. Fisher notes that it is ironical how the Indians used the very same institutions that were required to assist convert them to faithful English subjects, to generate semi-autonomous room through which they could be able to exercise a great deal of autonomy. In the book, Fisher postulates how the Indians never perceived Christianity as a totalizing worldview by arguing that they appended Christianity as “both provisional and incomplete.” This helps challenge the long-held historical trajectory that the Indian conversion to Christianity was mutual.

Over the course of the eight chapters of the book, Fisher argues that the native Indians repeatedly found that the missionary religion, education and even practices to be both useful and interesting, although they were filtered through the reality of colonialism and the deep abiding belief that it was meant to manipulate them to give their land and conventional practices (Fisher, 2012). Historically, religious conversions have been used to set communities on a different trajectory than what they were used to and in most cases in close alliance with the colonial masters. The native Indian communities had been going through numerous hardships when the settlers moved into the New England communities, and this circumstantially forced the Indians to adopt the new set of beliefs and practices set by the colonialists as a survival tactic.

In the book, Fisher posits that the native Indians leveraged on affiliation when faced with strategic decisions such as the conversion to Christianity and used the same to their own benefit. This notwithstanding, it is notable that ethnographic data on the practices as well as actual beliefs held by the Indians are grossly missing all through the book. According to Fisher (2012), it is important for one to evaluate their religion so as to be able to understand how it allowed for flexibility that encompassed the adoption of some Christian values. The presence and flourishing of the Indian separatist movement helps elucidate how a large percentage of the natives became accustomed to Christianity. It is, thus, probable to argue that the inculcation of Christianity ideals through education was critical to the flourishing and widespread adoption of its values within the native communities.

 

Reference

Fisher, L. D. (2012). The Indian great awakening: Religion and the shaping of native cultures in early America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.