“The Pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven”

The Indigenization of Russian Orthodox Tradition in Alaska

in Mission Studies
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The Russian Orthodox mission to Alaska can be understood in terms of liberative mission. The article shows how the missionaries succeeded in allowing Christianity to become indigenized in native Alaskan cultures, rather than attempting to make the indigenous peoples Russian. It did this through an attention to the narratives, religious and otherwise, of the Alaskan peoples and by allowing these narratives to address and be addressed by the Christian narrative. Current anthropological research points to the depth of the roots of this indigenization, and how it helped in the identity formation of the native peoples especially after the sale of Alaska to the United States when their identity was under severe external threat. The Russian Orthodox mission to Alaska provides a good historical case study of how the gospel can be indigenized in a way that empowers people and suggests a tradition available to Orthodox churches today as they seek to become more mission-minded.

“The Pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven”

The Indigenization of Russian Orthodox Tradition in Alaska

in Mission Studies

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References

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3

Mousalimas (1989) contrasts the attitude in this document with that of the American Calvinists who came to Alaska after 1867 whom Mousalimas claims had a much more negative view of Kodiak culture.

6

Mousalimas 1993:xxxi raises the possibility that Innocent “may have been partly Native Siberian himself (while the details of his parentage are unknown an indication exists: he was born in a village from local parentage).”

7

Chryssavgis 1999:585 refers to its publication date as 1841. However the Unangan version came out much earlier the first printed text in the language for which Innocent devised a script. The translation is in Oleksa 2010:80–119. See also Mousalimas 1993:173–174 entries for March 1833.

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