Synopses & Reviews
Prophets of the Great Spirit
offers an in-depth look at the work of a diverse group of Native American visionaries who forged new, syncretic religious movements that provided their peoples with the ideological means to resist white domination. By blending ideas borrowed from Christianity with traditional beliefs, they transformed “high” gods or a distant and aloof creator into a powerful, activist deity that came to be called the Great Spirit. These revitalization leaders sought to regain the favor of the Great Spirit through reforms within their societies and the inauguration of new ritual practices.
Among the prophets included in this study are the Delaware Neolin, the Shawnee Tenkswatawa, the Creek “Red Stick” prophets, the Seneca Handsome Lake, and the Kickapoo Kenekuk. Covering more than a century, from the early 1700s through the Kickapoo Indian removal of the Jacksonian Era, the prophets of the Great Spirit sometimes preached armed resistance but more often used nonviolent strategies to resist white cultural domination. Some prophets rejected virtually all aspects of Euro-American culture. Others sought to assure the survival of their culture through selective adaptation.
Alfred A. Cave explains the conditions giving rise to the millenarian movements in detail and skillfully illuminates the key histories, personalities, and legacies of the movement. Weaving an array of sources into a compelling narrative, he captures the diversity of these prophets and their commitment to the common goal of Native American survival.
“In this excellent, enjoyable work, Cave explores how a series of connected religious movements led by dynamic prophets swept through Indian groups in eastern North America between 1744 and 1835. . . . Caves book will be useful to students of religion as well as Native American history.”—Choice
“At multiple points in Prophets
, Cave demonstrates his historiographical acumen. . . . Caves treatments, though, of Tenskwatawa and Tecumsehs efforts is perhaps the books most informative historiographical contribution. . . . Caves is an admirable text. It is well researched and finely written. To be sure, then, Prophets of the Great Spirit
is a highly serviceable and commendable introduction for any student of Native American revitalization movements, Native American history and regions, and early American history.”—Brendan Q. Swagerty, Journal of Religion
This in-depth narrative history of the interactions between English settlers and American Indians during the Virginia colonys first century explains why a harmonious coexistence proved impossible.
While the romanticized story of the Jamestown colony has been retold many times, the events following the marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe are less well known. The peace and goodwill did not last; within one hundred years of the English settlers arrival in Virginia, the Indian population had been reduced by more than 90 percent through warfare, disease, and indiscriminate extermination.
Britains first successful settlements in America occurred more than four hundred years ago. Not surprisingly, the historical accounts of these events have often contained inaccuracies. This compelling study of colonial Virginia, based on the latest research, sheds new light on the tensions between the English and the American Indians and clarifies the facts about several storied relationships.
In Lethal Encounters, Alfred A. Cave examines why the Anglo settlers were unable to establish a peaceful and productive relationship with the regions native inhabitants and explains how the deep prejudices harbored by both whites and Indians, the incompatibility of their economic and social systems, and the leadership failures of protagonists such as John Smith, Powhatan, Opechancanough, and William Berkeley contributed to this breakdown.
About the Author
Alfred A. Cave is professor emeritus of history at the University of Toledo and the author of numerous books, including The Pequot War
and Prophets of the Great Spirit: Native American Revitalization Movements in Eastern North America