Copyright © 2014 The Tzó-Nah Fund
As I sit with the people, many of them native Christians with all the verve and zeal, or "fervor," it is called of the Lord Christ and God, whose presence is in our ceremonies as representatives "salesman and marketers" of the Christian Faith in native country, I am "urged to present an overview of American Indians and Christianity.
From "first contact" the American Indian has a long history with Christianity. We "Indians," most commonly referred to as "The People" in indigenous languages, have our prophets, our own oral narratives and history of our journeys, and we have our wisdom (wisdom is not learned knowledge but the potential that exists within) keepers in our oral traditions (myths and legends), we have our own epic heroes. Red Jacket addressed this idea in his famous speech on the white man's God. See Red Jacket defends Native American "Religion," 1805 (History Matters!) Red Jacket's village was destroyed two weeks after attempting to shake the hand of the missionary and U.S. Representative who refused saying "no fellowship could exist between the religion of God and the works of the Devil." http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5790/
Herein begins the problem, the American Indians are described as the Devil in Christian faiths. Actually, anyone person is the Devil who is not "saved" by Jesus or who does not obey the Word of God according to Judeo-Christian tenants. The early white man's God to the contiguous United States came in the form of Puritans (there are no more Puritans around!) The Puritans didn't know what to think of the American Indian with long hair. Long hair to the Puritans means "pride," one of the sins, saying the indians lacked humility, sobriety, and modesty therefore, they could not be shamed and therefore lacked civility or ability to be civil. Pride was greater a sin than the Original Sin which doomed Adam when he disobeyed God (and cursed all of humanity thereafter as Adam and Eve were tossed out of the Garden of Eden). And, the American Indian children were disobeying the Christian God. The natives wore tattoos and paint on their bodies. The women were bare breasted and they ruled the communities as strong matriarchs, which is a Christian understanding of women' roles. Natives wore the skins of reptiles, birds, and beasts and they danced around fire singing songs, "whooping and calling out" using bird bones and war clubs. The natives were demonic by nature and referred to as Satan, the Devil himself. Natives could never embrace reason they said.
Biblically, God gave man "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." It was the Christian God's edict "to multiply, replenish, and make the earth fruitful." It was not God's intention to leave the land undeveloped; it was a waste land to leave it barren. American Indians had no concept of opinion over the land and its inhabitants. In any case, the land was not barren and unused or underdeveloped as the insects, rocks, plants, animals, trees, waters, fishes, and so on were at work on the land. Further, we understood the reciprocal relationships in nature; we understood everything and everyone was inter-dependent and reciprocal as we were lifetime "scientists," reaching into the depth of generational time to understand physical reality as well as the energies underpinning the apparent firmness of a rock or a tree or so on. We could communicate with this energy and did. Early people and even modern people today are dismayed that we say we communicate with the water, or the trees, or the animals. There is no such counterpart in Western societies except for the dark side of witchcraft.
The Puritans are involved in campaign of slander against the American Indian as beasts, inhuman, savage, and pagan. They send out missives and propaganda portraying the American Indian 's soul as unsalvageable, that the American Indian must be destroyed, even murdered, and taken off the face of the earth according to God's command.