The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church (Hardcover)

A Chain Linking Two Traditions

By L. Gordon McLester III (Editor), Laurence Hauptman (Editor), Judy Cornelius-Hawk (Editor)

Indiana University Press, 9780253041371, 248pp.

Publication Date: May 2, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (5/2/2019)

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This unique collaboration by academic historians, Oneida elders, and Episcopal clergy tells the fascinating story of how the oldest Protestant mission and house of worship in the upper Midwest took root in the Oneida community. Personal bonds that developed between the Episcopal clergy and the Wisconsin Oneidas proved more important than theology in allowing the community to accept the Christian message brought by outsiders. Episcopal bishops and missionaries in Wisconsin were at times defenders of the Oneidas against outside whites attempting to get at their lands and resources. At other times, these clergy initiated projects that the Oneidas saw as beneficial--a school, a hospital, or a lace-making program for Oneida women that provided a source of income and national recognition for their artistry. The clergy incorporated the Episcopal faith into an Iroquoian cultural and religious framework--the Condolence Council ritual--that had a longstanding history among the Six Nations. In turn, the Oneidas modified the very form of the Episcopal faith by using their own language in the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum as well as by employing Oneida in their singing of Christian hymns.

Christianity continues to have real meaning for many American Indians. The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church testifies to the power and legacy of that relationship.

About the Author

L. Gordon McLester III is the former Secretary of the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin and Director of the Oneida Indian Historical Society. Since 1986, he has coordinated approximately fifteen conferences on Oneida history and has interviewed more than 500 elders; all of these conversations have been digitized for their use in schools and by the community at large. He is co-author of Chief Daniel Bread and the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin (2002) and co-editor of three previous books on the history of the Oneidas. McLester has also authored (with Elisabeth G. Torres) the children's book The Oneida. Laurence M. Hauptman is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History. He is author of numerous articles and books over the past forty years. His newest book is An Oneida Indian in Foreign Waters: The Life of Chief Chapman Scanandoah. Dr. Hauptman has testified as an expert witness before committees of both houses of Congress and in the federal courts and has served as a historical consultant for the Wisconsin Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Mashantucket Pequots, and the Senecas. Judy Cornelius-Hawk is former Treasurer, Tribal Librarian, and member of the Land Claims Committee of the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin. She is also co-founder of the Oneida Arts program. Cornelius-Hawk is a past recipient of the Clarion Award for Women in Communication and held a D'Arcy McNickle Fellowship from the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian in Chicago. She has authored articles on missionaries among the Oneidas and co-authored an article on Susan Fenimore Cooper. For more than twenty years, she served as a teacher at the Episcopal Church school and as a member of the church's Altar Guild. Kenneth Hoyan House is Chaplain of the Wisconsin Oneida Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was born on the Wisconsin Oneida Reservation. When his uncle Robert L. Bennett served as United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the mid 1960s, House worked with him in Washington, DC. He later joined the United States Navy, where he served for twenty-eight years before his retirement and return to Wisconsin.