Home Special Groups • We have a religion: the 1920s Pueblo Indian dance by Tisa Wenger

We have a religion: the 1920s Pueblo Indian dance by Tisa Wenger

By Tisa Wenger

For local americans, non secular freedom has been an elusive aim. From nineteenth-century bans on indigenous ceremonial practices to twenty-first-century felony battles over sacred lands, peyote use, and searching practices, the U.S. govt has frequently acted as though Indian traditions have been by some means no longer really non secular and accordingly no longer eligible for the constitutional protections of the 1st modification. during this booklet, Tisa Wenger exhibits that cultural notions approximately what constitutes "religion" are the most important to public debates over non secular freedom.In the Twenties, Pueblo Indian leaders in New Mexico and a sympathetic coalition of non-Indian reformers effectively challenged executive and missionary makes an attempt to suppress Indian dances by means of convincing a skeptical public that those ceremonies counted as faith. This fight for spiritual freedom pressured the Pueblos to hire Euro-American notions of faith, a conceptual shift with advanced outcomes inside of Pueblo lifestyles. lengthy after the dance controversy, Wenger demonstrates, dominant options of faith and non secular freedom have persevered to marginalize indigenous traditions in the usa.

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Extra info for We have a religion: the 1920s Pueblo Indian dance controversy and American religious freedom

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It was to refute these critics and defend the assimilationist program that Protestant and Catholic missionary leaders diagnosed a resurgence of ‘‘paganism’’ among power-hungry tribal leaders, encouraged by deluded ‘‘sentimentalists,’’ who prevented educated young Indians from sticking with ‘‘civilized’’ ways. Their primary opponents in the dance controversy were neither radical assimilationists nor scientific racists but a new group of reformers who were just emerging as an identifiable voice within the politics of Indian a√airs.

This was true for any race and doubly so for the ‘‘savage’’ Indians. In his 1882 report to the secretary of the interior, Commissioner Hiram Price called for increased government support for mission schools as the best way to civilize the Indians. ’’≤∏ If American civilization relied on Christianity, then Christian missions were an essential ingredient in the government’s e√orts to Americanize the Indians. The federal government, however, did not grant equal status to all Christian missions. In theory, under Grant’s Peace Policy reservations were allocated to the church with the longest-established active mission.

There they put on their costumes— ten-foot white frame structures adorned with colorful blankets and a spread of eagle feathers above a blue face mask—and then process into town to begin the public festival. Their walk symbolically retraces the path of the ancestors as they journeyed from their place of emergence into this world, all the way to the Zunis’ home at the center of the earth. Eight houses are newly built or renovated each year for the festival. One is dedicated to each of the six Shalako, one to the koyemshi, and one to the ‘‘Council of the Gods,’’ an honored group of the ancestral deities known to the Zuni as koko, who return each year with gifts of rain and other blessings.

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