"For the Good of Their Souls"
Performing Christianity in Eighteenth-Century Mohawk Country
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Using the lens of performance theory to explain the ways in which the Mohawks considered converting and participating in Christian rituals, historian William B. Hart contends that Mohawks who prayed, sang hymns, submitted to baptism, took communion, and acquired literacy did so to protect their nation's sovereignty, fulfill their responsibility of reciprocity, serve their communities, and reinvent themselves. Performing Christianity was a means of "survivance," a strategy for sustaining Mohawk life and culture on their terms in a changing world.
"[A] welcome addition to North American ethnohistorical scholarship. The book offers fresh insight . . . into Mohawk culture during a crucial era of their history.”—Ethnohistory
"This historiographic contribution is valuable because it reveals that the presence and role of Christianity in Native communities was more nuanced than Christian missionaries and other sources often acknowledged . . . Highly recommended."—CHOICE
"Hart has given us a useful, readable, well-researched history of Protestant efforts to convert Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) people to Christian religion and European culture in the eighteenth century. The account skillfully navigates the shifting sets of interests among individual and collective actors in this drama."—Native American and Indigenous Studies
"This book is thoroughly researched and thoughtfully argued. It makes a significant contribution as a case study in the development of indigenous Christianity, as a history of the Mohawk people during tumultuous times through the lens of their adoption of Christianity, and as an exploration of the multiple meanings of conversion."—Colin G. Calloway, author of The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
"Not only is 'For the Good of Their Souls' easily the best treatment of Mohawk Christianity, and the Mohawks in general, during the eighteenth century, but it advances our understanding of Indian Christianity considerably. Additionally, it is at once theoretically sophisticated, clearly written, and accessible."—David J. Silverman, author of Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America