Capture These Indians for the Lord - Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939

Smith, Tash

Published by University of Arizona
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Synopsis: In 1844, on the heels of the final wave of the forced removal of thousands of Indians from the southern United States to what is now Oklahoma, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among the Native communities of Indian Territory. Initially, the Church conducted missions as part of the era’s push toward assimilation. But what the primarily white missionaries quickly encountered was a population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of which frustrated those eager to bring Indian Territory into what they felt was mainstream American society.

In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push toward western expansion. Although many Native people accepted the missionaries’ religious practices, Smith shows how individuals found ways to reconcile the Methodist force with their traditional cultural practices. When the white population of Indian Territory increased and Native sovereignty came under siege during the allotment era of the 1890s, white communities marginalized Indians within the Church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit.

Later, with white indifference toward Indian missions peaking in the early twentieth century, Smith explains that as the remnants of the Methodist power weakened, Indian membership regained control and used the Church to regenerate their culture. Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century.

Book Description: "Exploring larger issues associated with western expansion, [this manuscript] details the history of the Southern
Methodist Church in Indian Territory/Oklahoma and the complex relationship between its white and Indian
membership. In 1844, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission
Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among native communities of Indian Territory and, initially, the church
conducted missions as part of the era's larger trend toward Indian assimilation. What whites quickly encountered was a
population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of
which frustrated those people eager to bring Indian Territory into mainstream American society. Once the region's
white population increased in the 1890s and native sovereignty came under siege, white communities marginalized
Indians within the church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit. With white indifference toward
Indian missions peaking in the early-twentieth century, Southern Methodist Indians used what remnants of mission
work remained to create a unique space for their culture even as white-dominated society surrounded them." - Smith

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Title: Capture These Indians for the Lord - Indians...
Publisher: University of Arizona
Book Condition: BRAND NEW

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