Skip to main content

During the eighteenth century, a small Protestant Christian sect known as the Moravians sent missionaries to North America in an attempt to convert American Indians to Christianity.

The Moravians:

Moravia is now a part of the Czech Republic. In 1648 the Thirty Years’ War ended and as a result a number of Protestant refugees from Moravia found refuge in Saxony in Germany. In 1722 Count van Zinzendorf invited some of these refugees to form a community on his estate. This community became the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), also known as the Moravian Brethren.

One of the key elements of Moravian worship is the Love Feast: the sharing of a communal meal. While the Moravians look to the scriptures for guidance on faith and conduct, they do not overemphasize doctrine, but prefer a religion that comes from the heart.

The Misssions:

The Moravian missions to the American Indians began in 1740. In New York, Moravian missionaries, inspired by the success of the Presbyterian mission at Stockbridge, established missions among the Mohegan at the village of Shemomeko.

The Moravian mission was financially supported by the English Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Moravian focus on religion from the heart and their Love Feast were compatible with Native American spiritual traditions. Unlike other Protestant missionaries, the Moravians lived and dressed like the Indians and it was not uncommon for European visitors to mistake the Moravians for Indians.

While the Indians apparently had little animosity toward the Moravians, the same cannot be said of the English settlers in the area. Since the local English were hostile toward the Indians, they were also hostile toward the Moravians since the two groups were friendly and integrated. The English preferred a policy of strict segregation between Indians and Europeans. Soon the English were spreading rumors that the Moravians were somehow either secret Jesuits or they were somehow allied with the Jesuits. The Protestant English viewed the Jesuits, who were Catholics, as “atheistic papists”, a group more hated than the Indians.  In addition, the Moravians sought to prevent the sale of liquor to the Indians and the liquor trade was important to the English. Because of the death threats from the English colonists, the Moravians abandoned their mission at Shemomeko in 1745.

In 1741, the Moravians established a mission community in Pennsylvania which was intended to convert the Lenni Lenape (also known as the Delaware). The community was established on Christmas Eve and was named Bethlehem after the biblical town in Judea. From here they also established a number of other missions among the Indians.

The Lenape people were not a single unified political entity, but a loose affiliation of peoples who spoke closely related Algonquian languages: Unami, Munsee, and Unalachtigo. In 1682, some Lenape leaders had signed a treaty with William Penn which allowed the establishment of the Pennsylvania colony.

Penn Treaty photo Treaty_of_Penn_with_Indians_by_Benjamin_West_zps66498235.jpg

Shown above is a painting showing the treaty council with William Penn.

Lapowinsa photo Lapowinsa01_zpsdbc547cd.jpg

Shown above is a portrait of Lenape Chief Lapowinsa.

In 1755, the Delaware raided the Christian Indian Mission at Gnadenhutten, Pennsylvania. They burned it to the ground and killed several Moravian missionaries. The Indian converts – Mohican and Delaware – escaped. The surviving Indians left the area and established a new settlement in southern Ontario, Canada. Eventually they became known as the Moravian of the Thames and currently have their own reserve.

In 1799, Little Turkey advocated to the Cherokee council in Georgia that it permit Moravian missionaries to establish a school within the nation.  In 1801, the Moravians established a mission among the Cherokee. In the 1830s, when the Cherokee were forced to move to Oklahoma, the Moravians moved with them. The Moravian mission to the Cherokee remained active until the end of the Civil War in 1865. The mission was then transferred to the Danish Lutheran Church and has continued as the Oaks Mission School.

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots


 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

                red_black_rug_design2

Originally posted to Ojibwa on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 07:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Native American Netroots, Street Prophets , and Invisible People.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site