Black Robes and the Book of Heaven

When Christianity Went West

In: Church History and Religious Culture
Thomas S. Bremer Rhodes College USA Memphis, TN

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Protestant and Catholic sources tell different stories about four Nez Perce emissaries from beyond the Rocky Mountains who arrived in St. Louis in the fall of 1831. Although their respective historical accounts reveal little about why native peoples would find it advantageous to send a delegation to an American frontier town asking for help, they reveal much about the contrasts between these rival groups of American Christians in the nineteenth century as well as their common objectives in Christianizing the American west. A third version of Christian missionaries arriving in the intermountain west from an indigenous oral tradition offers a different interpretation of Christianity’s consequences for the native peoples of the region.

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