The Native American Church Movement: Indian Accommodation and Resistance in Post-Dawes Act America

Saturday, January 4, 2014: 10:00 AM
Harding Room (Marriott Wardman Park)
Christopher Ryan Versen, Bridgewater College
One of the chief challenges in teaching American Indian history to undergraduates is overcoming the stereotypes of Indians that leave them fixed in time, disconnected from the broader movement of American history, members of a single ethnic and cultural group, and as a people unable to act on their own behalf in anything but a tragic historical drama. These problems become especially acute when the subject is Indians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and when the focus is religion. I will discuss the challenges and rewards of addressing the controversy among Indians and in the US broadly over the creation of the Native American Church in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is a topic that complicates students’ understanding of American Indian cultural and political diversity, and challenges them to think about the myriad forms of Indian accommodation with, resistance to, and adaptation of native and American cultures and mores.
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