This week on Fieldstone Common, Marian Pierre-Louis interviews Dr. Linford Fisher, author of The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Culture in Early America.
The First Great Awakening was a time of heightened religious activity in the colonial New England. Among those whom the English settlers tried to convert to Christianity were the region’s native peoples. In this book, Linford Fisher tells the gripping story of American Indians’ attempts to wrestle with the ongoing realities of colonialism between the 1670s and 1820.
In particular, he looks at how some members of previously unevangelized Indian communities in Connecticut, Rhode Island, western Massachusetts, and Long Island adopted Christian practices, often joining local Congregational churches and receiving baptism. Far from passively sliding into the cultural and physical landscape after King Philip’s War, he argues, Native individuals and communities actively tapped into transatlantic structures of power to protect their land rights, welcomed educational opportunities for their children, and joined local white churches.
Charting this untold story of the Great Awakening and the resultant rise of an Indian Separatism and its effects on Indian cultures as a whole, this gracefully written book challenges long-held notions about religion and Native-Anglo-American interaction
Linford Fisher is an assistant professor of history at Brown University. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2008 and taught for a year in the Indiana University system before coming to Brown in 2009. His research field is early American history, including the history of religion in America and Native American history.