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Tears of Repentance

Christian Indian Identity and Community in Colonial Southern New England

Julius H. Rubin

Publication Year: 2013

Tears of Repentance revisits and reexamines the familiar stories of intercultural encounters between Protestant missionaries and Native peoples in southern New England from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on Protestant missionaries’ accounts of their ideals, purposes, and goals among the Native communities they served and of the religion as lived, experienced, and practiced among Christianized Indians, Julius H. Rubin offers a new way of understanding the motives and motivations of those who lived in New England’s early Christianized Indian village communities.

Rubin explores how Christian Indians recast Protestant theology into an Indianized quest for salvation from their worldly troubles and toward the promise of an otherworldly paradise. The Great Awakening of the eighteenth century reveals how evangelical pietism transformed religious identities and communities and gave rise to the sublime hope that New Born Indians were children of God who might effectively contest colonialism. With this dream unfulfilled, the exodus from New England to Brothertown envisioned a separatist Christian Indian commonwealth on the borderlands of America after the Revolution.

Tears of Repentance is an important contribution to American colonial and Native American history, offering new ways of examining how Native groups and individuals recast Protestant theology to restore their Native communities and cultures.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Henry Oliver Walker (1843–1929) painted an evocative mural, John Eliot Preaching to the Indians, commissioned in 1903 for the rotunda of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Walker received his training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Consistent with this academic tradition, he adopted a muted palette of red, orange, and yellow ...

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pp. 1-18

In this study I retell the now-familiar stories of the intercultural encounters between Protestant missionaries and Native peoples in southern New England from the seventeenth century through the early national period. These encounters include John Eliot, Thomas Mayhew Jr., and others who established the first “praying towns” ...

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1. Praying Towns and Praying-to-God Indians

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pp. 19-38

A portion of the surviving Native groups in southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard—Wampanoags, Massachusetts, Pokanokets, and others—demonstrated remarkable resiliency and perseverance when confronted with the tragic consequences of epidemics and depopulation, colonization and dispossession. ...

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2. The Penitential Sense of Life

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pp. 39-76

John Eliot preached to the Wampanoag village of Nonantum in September 1647 and offered pastoral care and admonishment to the Indian congregation. The adolescent son of the sachem Cutshamekin stood charged with drunkenness and disobedience toward his father and mother in violation of the fifth commandment. ...

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3. The Pattern of Religious Paternalism in Eighteenth-Century Christian Indian Communities

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pp. 77-113

The seventeenth-century idea of the praying town as a rational religious utopia and semiautonomous political enclave was a casualty of King Philip’s War and gave way to a new expression of religious paternalism—the mission and missionary as an instrument of the colonial administration of Native peoples, who were perceived to be a declining or vanishing race. ...

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4. Samson Occom and Evangelical Christian Indian Identity

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pp. 114-159

For Native American communities in southern New England, situated within long-settled English colonies behind the frontier, the era known as the Great Awakening (1740–1760) was an epitomizing event—a religious and social movement that championed, through conversion and church building, new models of Christian Indian identity for individuals and communities.1 ...

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5. The Stockbridge and New Jersey Brotherton Tribes

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pp. 160-196

In the eighteenth century, two forms of religious paternalism championed by missionary and colonial authorities resonated with the interests of two Native groups. The first emerged from the remnants of the Mahican confederation in western Massachusetts, and the second from the Leni Lenapes and Munsees (the Delaware confederation) in New Jersey. ...

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6. The Moravian Missions to Shekomeko and Pachgatgoch

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pp. 197-237

The United Brethren, or Unitas Fratrum, who were known colloquially as the Moravians from their country of origin, received the sponsorship of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in 1722 and established the community of Herrnhutt in Saxony. From this base Moravians aggressively proselytized through foreign missions, ...

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7. Errand into the Borderlands

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pp. 238-268

The Brothertown tribe represents the next development of Christian Indian identity and another iteration in the ethnogenesis of an amalgamated, refugee village—a new tribe comprised of the “Christianized remnants of ‘broken tribes’ of New England.”1 Evangelical Christian Indians, who were newly born in revival, were guided by visionaries like Samson Occom, ...

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8. Frontier Rendezvous

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pp. 269-302

The Mahicans and the multitribal groups who had formed the Stockbridge tribe underwent the next iteration of ethnogenesis to form the New Stockbridge tribe. Approximately 420 Indians settled the abandoned village of Tuscarora in 1785 and 1788, adjacent to Brothertown.1 ...

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pp. 303-308

Elias Boudinot (1740–1821) penned these maudlin verses in 1818 to eulogize Sarah, an impoverished elderly Indian woman from an unnamed tribe and an unidentified community. According to the sublime evangelical imagination that whites employed when they imagined Christian Indians, she could be any Indian woman, from any tribe, anywhere in America. ...

Appendix A: Religion and Red Power

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pp. 309-312

Appendix B: A Note on Indiantowns

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pp. 313-314


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pp. 315-356


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pp. 357-382


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pp. 383-405

E-ISBN-13: 9780803245679
E-ISBN-10: 080324567X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803243552

Page Count: 472
Illustrations: 10 tables, 2 appendixes
Publication Year: 2013