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White Heathens and Praying Indians
A Man Question from a Christian Warrior


Hey I have a different inquiry for you. I was recently reading some history on the Iroquois and Algonquian Indians and I found an interesting tidbit about a portion of them converting to Christianity after trading with the settlers. I know you've written in the past about white settlers converting to Indian religion have you run across any facts about them converting to Christianity and what the ratios were? Or anything regarding why they would convert to Christianity?


Excellent question, Sean.

I will answer it in broad terms and will cover this in more detail in the White Heathens and Praying Indians, which will be a section of the White Indians and Yellow Negroes book. This will also be much addressed in The 13th Tribe.

Over the centuries of European Amerindian contact countless individuals taken or fleeing from Christian slave plantations, as well as from Congregationalist communities and Christian frontier households and settlements—and even from exploratory expeditions—were adopted into various native tribes. For the most part Indians had none of the zoological race fetish with which Asians, Europeans and Africans are deeply imbued. For this reason, this racialist compass, which Natives saw as “insanity” blacks and Asians were called black/white men, etc.

There is no way of telling how many whites and negroes went native, though it was enough to essentially weight the genetics of Indians east of the Mississippi as mostly Caucasian, and. especially in Florida, Virginia and Maryland, sometimes African in biology.

A middle ground here is Indian influence on Christianity. Numerous Christian scholars believed that one or more of the lost tribes of Israel had migrated to North America in ancient times. This was partial in response to the hybrid Caucasian appearance of Eastern Woodland Indians. Many books were written on this supposition, including The Book of Mormon, whose adherents claim to be Christians.

Likewise, Catholics, who all claim to be Christians, converted entire tribes and nations—including more Central American natives than ever resided in North America, to a syncretized Catholicism. Strong matriarchal strains in many Native faiths made their elders—particularly their matriarchs—ripe for Catholic conversion via the cult of The Virgin Mary. The saintly cults also facilitated almost universal Latin American conversion.

Jesuit Catholics and later New England Congregationalists were both active among the Iroquois, who had a very Christ like prophet in Hiawatha [He-who-makes-rivers], son of Thunderer [Yahweh is anthropologically classified as a sky god] and a post European contact man who might be a Paul, Deganawida [Two-rivers-coming-together-to-become-one]. The Iroquois were also heavily influenced—and often fathered by—deistic Anglican agents of the Crown. This alone is quite a subject.

As for mainline protestant conversions, most denominations from New England down to New Orleans managed to convert at least one entire tribe. The protestant method faced reactionary problems among later anglicized Indians such as Oheyeesha [who assisted in the formation of the Boy Scouts of America], who pointed out that “Jesus must have been an Indian,” because what Jesus said was in line with most native philosophy and internal group behavior and only rarely did a white man ever act according to the word of Jesus, but rather as a slave to money and power and tended to treat cruelly with in-group members, which was taboo among most tribes. Christian spanking literally boggled the native mind.

The numerous and sometimes tribe-wide conversions of natives to Protestant Christianity usually followed on the following course:

-Introduction to good Christian missionaries

-Economic exploitation and alcohol addiction by Christian traders [admitted by the most prominent Christian chroniclers of the time as the cause for interracial hostilities]

-Failure of the old gods before the white God of epidemic disease. Remember, that from New England to Carolina, protestant evangelists praised small pox and influenza as God-sent plagues to “smite the heathen in his devilish abodes,” as old growth forest was seen as satanic, based on the grassland orientation of Middle-eastern-based Christianity. The first thing any good Christian settler did was kill—not cut down, but kill—40 acres of trees. New England Indian shaman even asked for The White God’s blessing when their rain dances did not work one year. This one point here is the focus of The 13th Tribe book.

-The many and fruitful material blessings of Christianity were extended to suffering tribes, according to a prosperity gospel similar to modern televangelist churches. Christ was promoted as the font of technologies such as iron, steel, gunpowder and steam as much as a redeemer or forgiver.

-The result was that many tribes were converted in their extremity just before being integrated into white society, or slaughtered by still-heathen [and hence still martial] Indians or vengeful whites, like the Paxton Boys.

-Reeducation in partially secularized Christian schools, like the School for Indian Children in Carlisle PA, then completed the cultural transformation from Heathen Indian to Christian Indian, ironically, just as Christianity was being negated itself by gross materialism.

In the big picture, of the roughly 40 million Amerindians from the Arctic to the Antarctic, 35 million died within the first generation of Spanish contact, about 3 million converted to various forms of Christianity [the biggest non-violent success being in Paraguay in the 1700s], and the other 2 million dwindled over the centuries, some being slain, some being converted and some maintaining their beliefs in tiny enclaves and deep wildernesses, which began to reconstitute spiritually in North America when America set its sights on world domination around 1900. The big success story, is from Mexico to Peru, where tens of millions of people with more than 70% Native DNA regard themselves as devote Christians. Few Native North Americans practicing traditional faiths are 100% genetically Amerindian. So, one might conclude, Sean, that what we have now is a human ocean of Praying Indians, mostly south of the Rio Grande, and a smattering of part-white Indians still clinging to the ancestral beliefs of their materially defeated half.

As far as settlers converting Indians, this was done on a piecemeal basis, with many settler families having what were termed “pet Indians” who were gradually taught Christianity and European economics as family wards. Meanwhile, young whites adopted such Indian customs as hunting and bathing.

I am unable to arrive at a guess as to a ratio of Praying Indians to Heathen White-Indians, but will hazard that more whites converted than Indians, but that those whites mostly dwindled or barely multiplied, often dying fighting their own kind, while the Christianized Indians and mestizos have filled half a hemisphere in very Christian fecundity.

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Add Comment
Ron WestDecember 31, 2017 4:56 AM UTC

Hi James

I'll toss two bones into the soup;

The 'Native American Church' is a form of evangelical Christianity replete with missionaries (peyote 'road men') spreading this religion. This recent (past 150 years) religion stems from the Paiute Wovoka declaring himself the American Indian Jesus Christ and promulgating Christian thought in the indigenous community, based mainly of the ideas of Jesus (not Paul.) In the western states, this had been, initially, a southern variation.

In the north, Wovoka's 'vision' was adapted into what became 'ghost dance' and was a messianic movement based on the idea of a literal rising of the dead. This variant has almost entirely died out.

Both phenomena were a cultural overlay conformed to pre-existing native ceremonial thinking. I am not really familiar with the indigenous roots of the southern but I am aware the northern was based on antecedent native ghost religion that had separately survived into modern times.
responds:December 31, 2017 1:16 PM UTC

Thanks so much, Ron.
Tony CoxDecember 30, 2017 4:04 PM UTC

As an sidenote to the mention of Mormonism, it is known that Joseph Smith spent his childhood reading books filled with stories about pirates, which were very popular at that time. Black Beard’s pirate haven was on the Islands of Comoros. The Capitol of COMOROS Islands is of course, MORONI. Many pirate stories included bits about pirates being killed where the treasure was being buried, so that their ghost would protect it.

How funny that Joseph Smith found his sacred gold plates on the Hill CUMORAH, being protected by the angel MORONI. Proof of the one true faith, says I.

I like explaining that to the nice young guys from the LDS who always come knocking on my door every summer.