Before there was an immigrant American Church, there was a Native American Church. The Native American Catholic Studies Reader offers an introduction to the story of how Native American Catholicism has developed over the centuries, beginning with the age of the missions and leading to inculturated, indigenous forms of religious expression. Though the Native-Christian relationship could be marked by tension, coercion, and even violence, the Christian faith took root among Native Americans and for those who accepted it and bequeathed it to future generations it became not an imposition, but a way of expressing Native identity.
From the perspective of historians and theologians, the Native American Catholic Studies Reader offers a curated collection of essays divided into three sections: education and evangelization; tradition and transition; and Native American lives. Contributors include scholars currently working in the field: Mark Clatterbuck, Damian Costello, Conor J. Donnan, Ross Enochs, Allan Greer, Mark G. Thiel, and Christopher Vecsey, as well as selections from a past generation: Gerald McKevitt, SJ, and Carl F. Starkloff, SJ.
These contributions explore the interaction of missionaries and tribal leaders, the relationship of traditional Native cosmology and religiosity to Christianity, and the role of geography and tribal consciousness in accepting and maintaining indigenous and religious identities. These readings highlight the state of the emergent field of Native-Catholic studies and suggest further avenues for research and publication.
For scholars, teachers, and students, the Native American Catholic Studies Reader explores how the faith of the American Church’s eldest members became a means of expressing and celebrating language, family, and tribe.