Missions and Missionaries (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Missionaries and their missions provided American Indians with their first concentrated contact with white culture. Missionaries helped implement the policies of assimilation, agrarianism, and cultural extermination
From the 1500’s, when Spanish and French explorers brought Roman Catholic priests to North America, until the 1950’s, missionaries influenced both American Indians and U.S. policy toward Indians. Missionaries taught English, built schools and churches, and created pantribal connections. They also, however, spread disease and forced assimilation and Christianization on Indians. Most missionaries were well-meaning, but their efforts were often misguided. Some were so convinced of the correctness and superiority of their own culture and belief system that they tried to suppress and destroy those of the Indians. Missionary work supported by various denominations continues today, but since the 1950’s, missionaries have been more sensitive than their predecessors to Indian culture. Missionaries and their missions remain controversial in most American Indian communities today.
Sixteenth Century Through Eighteenth Century
Missionaries first entered North America through the...
(The entire section is 1138 words.)
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